Power sector share of SO2 emissions "growing"

New listing of top 100 European sulphur dioxide emitters shows electricity generators falling behind

Europe's electricity generation sector is failing to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions as fast as other industries, a survey of Europe's top 100 SO2 emitters has shown. Published by the Swedish NGO Secretariat for Acid Rain, the database shows that the power sector has increased its share of all land-based point-source SO2 emissions from 39% in 1994 to 55% now.

Electricity generators are contributing an increasing proportion of SO2 compared to other major sources such as refineries and smelters, report author Mark Barrett told ENDS Daily, because of continued use of coal-fired generating stations with no emission controls. Power stations account for 81 of the top 100 largest emitters in Europe, the database shows.

The largest single SO2 point source in Europe is Maritsa power station in Bulgaria, emitting 316,000 tonnes per year. Most of the largest emitters are in central and eastern European countries that were formerly part of the Soviet bloc, but several of the very biggest are in current EU member countries. Of these, the top five are Puentes As Pontes power station in Spain, Thierbach power station in Germany, Irini power station in Greece and Drax and West Burton power stations in the UK, ranked 3,6,7, 9 and 10 in the top-100 list.

The largest non-power station SO2 emitter in Europe is the Messina oil refinery in Italy, ranked 17 in the overall list and emitting 85,000 tonnes per year. Overall, the top-100 sources account for 40% of all land-based point-source SO2 emissions, the same proportion to that reported by the same NGO in a similar survey it published in 1994.

Mr Barrett claimed that power stations would likely continue to increase their share of European SO2 emissions over the next decade because most of the main emitters are installations built before 1987. Under the EU's forthcoming large combustion plants directive, these will not be subject to stricter emissions controls until 2008 at the earliest.

Follow Up:
Swedish NGO Secretariat on Acid Rain, tel: +46 31 711 4515, the new report "Point source emissions in Europe", and the 1994 report.

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