Europe’s most polluting power plants

Agios Dimitrios Power Plant in Greece is one out of two plants that is present on all three lists. Photo: g7ahn / Creative Commons

Eight of the twelve largest single sources of carbon dioxide in Europe are found in Germany.

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) has been updated with information on releases and transfers from industrial installations in 2010.

For carbon dioxide the list is more or less identical to the one for 2009, with only some minor changes in rank order and emission levels. Germany continues to dominate the emission league with eight lignite-fuelled plants on the top twelve list. But the individual plant that emits the most carbon dioxide in the whole of Europe is still Belchatów in Poland.

The greatest changes are seen for sulphur emissions, where total emissions from the ten most polluting plants in 2010 were 30 per cent less than the twelve most polluting plants in 2009. Almost all of the top polluters are to be found in the southeastern part of Europe. Maritsa 2 in Bulgaria is still the biggest sulphur polluter, but its 2010 emissions are now only a third of the level in 2007.

Power plants with high emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) are more scattered across the continent, although with Poland and the UK each having three facilities on the list. In comparison with the twelve most  polluting plants in 2009, NOx emissions have dropped by almost 20 per cent in 2010.

These reductions in sulphur and NOx are primarily a result of the large combustion plants (LCP) directive from 2001, forcing more and more power plants to install emission abatement technology.

The E-PRTR is a service managed by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The online register contains information on emissions of pollutants released into the air, water and land by industrial facilities throughout Europe (32 countries: EU27, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia) and includes annual data for 91 substances released from nearly 30, 000 facilities. The first data set is from 2007 and it has now been updated for the fourth time.

Kajsa Lindqvist

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register is found at

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