Coal-fired power plants are one of the largest sources of health-harming air pollutants into the atmosphere. This includes the three “major” air pollutants — SO2, NOx and particulate matter — as well as mercury and other toxic heavy metals. As large, stationary point sources, they represent a low-hanging fruit in efforts to protect public health from air pollution: as emissions originate from only a few thousand sites worldwide, the sector is relatively easy to monitor and regulate.
However, emissions standards and the degree to which they are enforced varies widely among both high- and low-to-medium income countries. As a part of our research efforts, CREA maintains an up-to-date database of emissions standards that aims to cover most of the world’s largest coal users.
The tables below simplify the complexity of regulation by only showing the emission limits applying to large (varyingly, >50MW to >500MW) plants. They also do not cover all exemptions either to individual plants or specific categories of plants which exist in many countries. The values are converted to 6% reference oxygen content, the most common basis used e.g. in the EU and China.
Emission limits for existing coal-fired power plants
|EU: from 2023, hard coal||130||150||8||4|
|EU: from 2023, lignite||130||175||8||7|
|China: from 2020||35||50||10||30|
|EU: from 2015||200||200||20||–|
|China: All plants||200||100||30||30|
|India: units installed after 2003*||200||600||50||30|
|India: units installed before 2003*||200||300||100||30|
*limits are technically in force but regulator has delayed or failed to require compliance
Emission limits for new coal-fired power plants
|United States – MATS||60||99||13||0.5|
|EU, hard coal||75||85||5||2|
EU: COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions, under Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, for large combustion plants. 28 Apr 2017.
Industrial Emissions Directive.
China: 生态环境部 2015。全面实施燃煤电厂超低排放和节能改造工作方案。
火电厂大气污染物排放标准 (GB 13223-2011). Partial English translation.
U.S.: EPA 2012. 40 CFR Parts 60 and 63. National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units and Standards of Performance for Fossil-Fuel-Fired Electric Utility, Industrial-Commercial, Institutional, and Small Industrial-Commercial-Institutional Steam Generating Units; Final Rule.
South Korea: 대기환경보전법 시행규칙 [시행 2021. 7. 14.] [환경부령 제922호, 2021. 6. 30., 일부개정]
Japan: Emissions limits are set on the plant level, so limit values are based on compilation of actual emissions values – 90th percentile shown.
India: Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Gazette Notification SO 3305(E), 7th December 2015.
Turkey: Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığı 2014. Değişik: RG-20/12/2014-29211 Ek-1. İşletmeler İçin Hava Emisyonu Esas ve Sınır Değerleri.
Chile: MINISTERIO DEL MEDIO AMBIENTE 2011. DECRETO 13 ESTABLECE NORMA DE EMISIÓN PARA CENTRALES TERMOELÉCTRICAS.
South Africa: DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS No. 248 31 March 2010. NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT: AIR QUALITY ACT, 2004 (ACT NO. 39 OF 2004). LIST OF ACTIVITIES WHICH RESULT IN ATMOSPHERIC EMISSIONS WHICH HAVE OR MAY HAVE A SIGNIFICANT DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, INCLUDING HEALTH, SOCIAL CONDITIONS, ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, ECOLOGICAL CONDITIONS OR CULTURAL HERITAAGE.
Indonesia: PERMENLHK NO P.15 2019 BAKU MUTU EMISI PEMBANGKIT LISTRIK TENAGA TERMAL
Australia: National guidelines for control of emission of air pollutants from new stationary sources ; Recommended methods for monitoring air pollutants in the environment 1985 / Australian Environment Council, National Health and Medical Research Council
Philippines: DENR Administrative Order No. 2000 – 8. 1 November 07, 2000. SUBJECT : IMPLEMENTING RULES ANDREGULATIONS FOR RA 8749.
Vietnam: National Technical Regulation on Emission of Thermal Power industry QCVN 22: 2009/BTNMT.