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The Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Directive

Summary

Directive (EU) 2015/2193 of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 November 2015 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants (Medium Combustion Plant (MCP) Directive) regulates pollutant emissions from the combustion of fuels in plants with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 megawatt (MWth) and less than 50 MWth.

Medium combustion plants are used for a wide variety of applications (electricity generation, domestic/residential heating and cooling, providing heat/steam for industrial processes, etc.) and are an important source of emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust. The estimated number of MCPs in the EU is around 143 000.

The MCP Directive is based on a Commission proposal, which was part of the Clean Air Policy Package adopted on 18 December 2013. The work done for assessing the impacts of the Clean Air Policy Package identified measures allowing cost-effective emission reductions from MCPs thus demonstrating a potential for EU source legislation in this area. The MCP Directive also ensures implementation of the obligations arising from the Gothenburg Protocol under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

The MCP Directive entered into force on 18 December 2015 and will have to be transposed by Member States by 19 December 2017.

It regulates emissions of SO2, NOx and dust into the air with the aim of reducing those emissions and the risks to human health and the environment they may cause. It also lays down rules to monitor emissions of carbon monoxide (CO).

It fills the regulatory gap at EU level between large combustion plants (> 50 MWth), covered under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and smaller appliances (heaters and boilers <1 MWth) covered by the Ecodesign Directive. It will also contribute to levelling the EU playing field.

The emission limit values set in the MCP Directive will have to be applied from 20 December 2018 for new plants and by 2025 or 2030 for existing plants, depending on their size. The flexibility provisions for district heating plants and biomass firing will ensure that climate and air quality policies are consistent and their synergies are maximised.

The MCP Directive addresses the potential need for Member States to apply stricter emission limit values in areas where this can improve local air quality in a cost-effective way. The Commission will help Member States dealing with such hotspots by providing information on the lowest emissions achievable with the most advanced techniques.

The Commission will regularly report on the implementation of the MCP Directive, and will address further issues, such as energy efficiency and carbon monoxide emissions, as foreseen under its review clauses.

The MCP Directive is a good example of Better Regulation. It has been designed to be affordable for SMEs, and provides long-term certainty for all economic operators concerned whilst minimising the administrative burden for both industry and Member States. In addition, beyond being environmentally efficient, the MCP Directive will encourage continued innovation and help EU industry gaining shares of the rapidly growing global market of pollution control technology.