Croatia: Environmental Permits for power utility HEP power generation facilities

17. March 2015. / SEE Energy News

The integrated environmental protection requirements – environmental permits, are the documents which all power utility company HEP’s existing thermal power plants, with the rated heating capacity higher than 50 MW must obtain so as to continue operation, i.e. electricity and heat generation, in accordance with the regulations of the Law on Environmental Protection and the Law on Nature Protection.

During the five-year period – the period for which the environmental permit is obtained, all prescribed measures must be complied with and implemented, and after the expiration of the five-year period, the permits must be renewed.

The transition deadline, 1st January 2018, for harmonizing the operation of thermal power plants of HEP Generation with the stricter limit values of emissions was confirmed by the Treaty of Accession of Croatia to the EU. By the proposed harmonization measures, using the best available techniques, efforts are made to extend to the maximum the investment cycle of investing in the existing plants, as well as to direct the investments to the construction of new, replacement, more efficient and environmentally more acceptable production units.

The requests for determining the integrated environmental protection requirements have been made according to the requirements that will be valid during the period 2014-2018. The conclusion of this period will also overlap with the end of implementation of the existing IPPC Directive from 2008. Namely, in the EU, it has been determined that it will be abolished on 1st January 2016 and that the implementation of the provisions of the Directive 2010/77/EU on industrial emissions will begin unconditionally, this Directive having already been completely implemented into the Croatian Regulation on Limit Values for Pollutant Emissions from Stationary Sources into the Air.

According to the procedure for issuing decisions on environmental permit, the TPP-HP Osijek, the TPP Sisak and the CCTPP Jertovec are the plants that have carried out all steps and the decision on environmental permit has been issued to them. The plant of Osijek HEP District Heating has also obtained the decision.

The TPP Rijeka, the Block C of the TPP Sisak and the TPP Plomin are the plants that have conducted public debates, responded to all questions and objections, and accordingly, drawn up the final book of integrated environmental protection requirements, so they are expecting their decisions on permit to be issued soon.

The authoritative bodies have not approved of certain requests of the plants TPP-HP Zagreb and PP-HP Zagreb: the TPP-HP Zagreb is still waiting for the decisions of the Croatian Waters, whereas in the PP-HP Zagreb, the public debate procedure has not even been initiated yet because of the lacking opinion of the Sector for Air, Soil and Atmosphere, and in relation to the emissions into the air for the gas turbines PTA 1 and 2 (blocks H and J).

The majority of objections from the public debate about the TPP Plomin referred to the new Block C, but as it was not the subject of the debate, such objections were not responded to.

General Harmonization Measures from the Procedure for Obtaining Environmental Permits

-As of 1st January 2016 – the exclusive use of natural gas as the primary fuel

-By 31st December 2015 – the consumption of fuel oil with the share of sulphur higher than 1 percent

-From 1st January 2016 to 31st December 2017 – the use of fuel oil as reserve fuel with less than 1 percent of sulphur

-As of 1st January 2018 – the use of fuel oil as reserve fuel and this oil having such characteristics that satisfy the limit values of emissions of individual plants: less than 0.12/0.23 percent of sulphur, less than 0.03/0.1 percent of nitrogen, less than 1.17 percent of asphaltenes and less than 0.01 percent of ash.

The plants that will not be able to satisfy the limit values of emissions only by applying the basic measure – the use of natural gas, will have to be revitalized and to carry out individual measures, such as the replacement of burner and the control system. The installation of expensive equipment for reducing emissions into the air, such as DeNOx and DeSOx ( for now, it is certain that these devices will be installed into the TPP Plomin 2) is yet to be considered. However, it is believed that the installation of expensive equipment for complying with the strict requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive is not cost-effective, considering the age of the HEP’s thermal power plants. Should the plants not be able to satisfy the requirements by any measure, the generation will have to be stopped or high fines will be paid to the EU due to the emissions that are higher than the prescribed. These fines can amount even up to two million euros per month, depending on the amount estimated and prescribed by the European Commission. The conclusion ensues that HEP has to build replacement plants.

It is Possible to Claim Exemption and to Produce until the Beginning of 2023, but under Certain Conditions

In accordance with the Regulation on Limit Values of Pollutant Emissions into the Air, by the request for heating plants, the PP-PP Zagreb, for the gas turbines PTA 1 and 2, and the TPP-HP Osijek, for the block 45 MW and the gas turbines PTA 1 and 2, may claim exemption from the obligation to comply with the strict limit values of emissions prescribed by the Industrial Directive.

The Directive provisions will enable such plants to operate until 1st January 2023, provided that they have satisfied the following conditions:

-the heating capacity of fuel does not exceed 200MW/tf

-they were commissioned before 27st November 2003

-they deliver at least 50 percent of the usefully generated heat in the form of steam or hot water into the central heating system.

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