Big cuts seen for industrial NOx emissions

Major European conference reveals consensus on availability of cost-effective reduction techniques

Europe's first major conference on industrial emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) ended on an optimistic note on Thursday. The Paris meeting revealed a widespread consensus that cost-effective techniques now available can in some cases deliver reductions far greater than will be required under the EU's 1996 directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC).

Dissenting voices were heard from some industry representatives, however. Several urged regulators to understand that progress would cost money and take time. Some sectors or installations would have a harder time implementing cost-effective techniques than others, they said.

The conference was organised to encourage information exchange on costs and environmental effectiveness of specific process and end-of-pipe measures to cut industrial NOx emissions. Mobile sources, and especially cars, are the largest single source, but industrial combustion accounts for one-third, in particular oil refineries, chemical plants, waste incinerators, power stations and cement and glass making plants.

In EU countries, industrial NOx emissions are likely to be regulated primarily through the IPPC directive. Nevertheless, any emissions cuts will also help towards achievement of agreed UN and proposed EU national emission ceilings for NOx.

NoxConf 2001 was also concerned with industrial emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O), though discussion was limited to Dutch plans to cut releases from nitric acid plants and results of reduction efforts at a German nitric acid plant. Nitric acid production is the single largest source of industrial N2O emissions.

The meeting was organised by France's environment and energy agency (Ademe) and the Netherlands' information centre for environmental licensing (InfoMil).

Follow Up:
Ademe, tel: +33 1 47 65 20 00; InfoMil, tel: +31 70 361 0575, and information on NoXConf 2001.

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