Independent power providers and combustion plants are facing changes to emissions regulations, as part of the Clean Air Policy Package. The Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD) already applies to new plants, and existing plants must comply by 2025 or 2030, depending on size.
What is the Medium Combustion Plant Directive?
Essentially, the MCPD sets out rules to control emissions to reduce the background levels of harmful substances.
It applies to all operators and owners of combustion plants rated between 1 MW and 50 MW thermal input. This is an important distinction, as the electrical output is not the primary metric, instead the thermal input is assessed.
Plants will have to adhere to limits on the concentration levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates in exhaust gases – as well as close monitoring of carbon monoxide emissions.
These Emissions Limit Values (ELV’s) vary according to the type of plant and the fuel used – but in the UK it will affect all diesel generators (including those below 1 MW thermal input) because of the impact diesel has on air quality. Appliances below the 1 MW threshold that are used in tandem still have to abide by the MCPD.
For users of natural gas, achieving these regulations is generally easier, thanks to the lower emissions in the fuel. However, the increase in unburnt hydrocarbons (UHC) and high levels of methane from this fuel source – with a higher greenhouse gas potential than CO2 – are likely to be a future cause for concern.
Why is it important?
The MCPD will help tackle climate change and improve air quality. These are critically important issues facing the world, and governments are being pressed to deliver solutions.
There are approximately 34,700 medium plants in the UK (source) and 143,000 in Europe (source). This includes boilers as well as generators, most of which are expected to be affected by the directive.
Failure to comply will result in penalties.
When will it be rolled out?
The MCPD applies to all new plants put into operation on or after 20 December 2018. New plants require a permit and must comply with the ELVs set in that permit.
Existing MCPs, for which an environmental permit was granted before 19 December 2017 and were in operation prior to 20 December 2018 have more time to comply.
If a plant’s thermal input is over 5 MW, it will require a permit by 1 January 2024 and must comply with the ELVs set by 1 January 2025.
If thermal input is between 1 MW and 5 MW, the plant will require a permit by 1 January 2029 and must comply with ELVs from 1 January 2030.
What are the exemptions?
There are limited exemptions for compliance, that only apply in certain cases. These include plants that only operate for a limited number of hours and those in small isolated systems.
There is however an allowance of ten days per year to exceed ELVs, but this only applies where low sulphur fuel is temporarily unavailable.
How can Bowman Power help?
Our Electric Turbo Compounding (ETC) technology can be used to reduce fuel consumption for engine and generator sets (gensets), in turn reducing the amount of emissions created as a result of power generation.
This includes the following potential improvements:
- For gas and diesel gensets: By improving power density and fuel efficiency, less fuel is used and therefore the amount of CO2 produced per kWe is reduced. NOx emissions are also reduced by up to 8%
- For gas gensets: ETC 1000 almost entirely eliminates fuel short circuiting due to in-cylinder scavenging pressure effects and reduces the flow of UHC rich residual gases (including CH4) to the exhaust by up to 40%
Through this combination Bowman can achieve an up to 23% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions (carbon equivalent basis), enabling you to achieve your clean energy policies and emissions targets.