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Polluting emissions from large combustion plants

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Polluting emissions from large combustion plants

The European Union sets limits for emissions of pollutants from large combustion plants.


Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control).


Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) came into force in 2011 and replaces seven previous pieces of legislation, including Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants.

Its main purpose is to reduce harmful industrial emissions, in particular through better application of best available techniques (BAT), thereby benefiting both citizens’ health and the environment.

Chapter III of Directive 2010/75/EU contains special provisions for combustion plants. It applies to combustion plants, the total rated thermal input of which is equal to or greater than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used.

Certain types of combustion plants are excluded from its scope. Examples include:

  • those whose products of combustion are used for heating, drying, etc.;
  • post-combustion plants designed to purify the waste gases by combustion which are not operated as independent combustion plants;
  • facilities for the regeneration of catalytic cracking catalysts;
  • facilities for the conversion of hydrogen sulphide into sulphur;
  • reactors used in the chemical industry;
  • coke battery furnaces.

Aggregation rules

The law lays down rules on aggregation. For example, where the waste gases of two or more separate plants are discharged through a common stack, the combination formed by such plants is considered as a single combustion plant and their capacities are added for the purpose of calculating the total rated thermal input.

Emission limit values

The emission limit values for large combustion plants laid down in Annex V to the directive are generally more stringent than those in the previous Directive 2001/80/EC. There is a degree of flexibility (transitional national plan, limited life time derogation) for existing installations. Annex V (Parts 1 and 2) lays down the emission limit values for combustion plants.

District heating plants

Until 31 December 2022, certain district heating plants may be exempted from compliance with the emission limit values (e.g. if the total rated thermal input of the combustion plant does not exceed 200 MW or the plant was granted a first permit before 27 November 2002).

Monitoring of emissions into air

EU countries must ensure that emissions into air are monitored in accordance with Part 3 of Annex V and that the conditions laid down in the installation’s permit to operate are fully met. The installation and functioning of the automated monitoring equipment are subject to control and to annual surveillance tests.

Geological storage of carbon dioxide

In this regard, operators of all combustion plants with a rated electrical output of 300 MW or more should ensure that: (i) suitable storage sites are available; (ii) transport facilities are technically and economically feasible; and (iii) it is technically and economically feasible to retrofit for carbon dioxide capture.

Malfunction/breakdown of abatement equipment

EU countries must ensure that the permits issued by their competent authorities contain provisions relating to malfunction or breakdown of abatement equipment. In the case of a breakdown, the operator must reduce or close down operations if a return to normal operation is not achieved within 24 hours, or operate the plant using low-polluting fuels.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2010/75/EU



OJ L 334 of 17.12.2010, p. 17-119


Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone (Official Journal L 179 of 17 July 2003).

This 1979 protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.

Commission Recommendation of 15 January 2003 on the guidelines to assist a Member State in the preparation of a national emission reduction plan further to the provisions of Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants (notified under document number C(2003) 9) (2003/47/EC) (Official Journal L 16 of 22 January 2003).

Last updated: 11.08.2014