FuelsEurope supports the IED as the policy tool that regulate emissions from industrial sites to the air and water in particular and contribute to deliver continuing improvements in environmental performance. However, the new standards set by the Refining BREF will be extremely challenging and costly for the sector. Therefore, implementation must be carried out in a manner that does not unnecessarily impair the competitiveness of the EU refining sector.
The IED Directive regulates emissions of about 50,000 industrial installations across the EU through the establishment of sector-specific BREF (BAT REFerence document) containing information about the sector and the latest emission control techniques used. The key chapter of the BREF, the BAT Conclusions, is then passed as secondary legislation. BATs cover both the technology used and the way in which the installation is designed, built, maintained, operated and decommissioned. It aims at achieving a high level of environmental protection under economically and technically viable conditions.
The European Commission adopted an implementing decision on 9 October 2014 establishing best available techniques (BAT) conclusions for refining mineral oil and gas, under the IED – Directive 2010/75/EU, the so-called REF BREF.
The binding BAT Conclusions include BAT Associated Emission Levels (BAT-AELs) which shall be the reference for authorities in Member States to set permit conditions for operators through Emission Limit Values (ELVs).
The BAT conclusions for refineries include emission levels of various individual metal compounds or total suspended solids emissions to water; they set emissions levels of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide to air, depending on the combustion mode of the fluid catalytic cracking process; and they set emission standards for non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and benzene for storage and handling processes. The BAT conclusions also include the integrated emission management technique for NOX and SO2 from several process and combustion units within a site, as an alternative to the unit-by-unit BAT-AELs approach. This allows for refineries to achieve cost-effective overall reductions, based on the specific characteristics of that site.
In spring 2022, the European Commission published its proposal for a revision of the IED, with the objective that updated rules will help guide industrial investments necessary for Europe's transformation towards a zero-pollution, competitive, climate-neutral economy by 2050. The revision further aims to spur innovation, reward frontrunners, and help level the playing field on the EU market. The revision will help provide long-term investment certainty, with first new obligations on industry expected in the second half of the decade. Since the publication, FuelsEurope has published its position paper on the revision of the IED which has been used for stakeholder engagement throughout the legislative process. In this position paper, we emphasise our support for the European Green Deal objectives to review EU measures to address pollution from large agro-industrial installations whilst also ensuring consistency with other related policies. As such, we continue to support the three underlying principles of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) that should prevail throughout the revision process:
- A permitting process which is based on BAT conclusions, resulting from thorough data collection practices, which enables the derivation of meaningful BAT-associated emissions levels;
- An integrated approach aiming to protect the environment as a whole (e.g. addressing cross-media effects);
- Consideration of the local environmental conditions and the technical characteristics of the installation(s) concerned.
The interinstitutional negotiations are foreseen to conclude by end of 2023.