EUETS review eases rules for low emitters

The European Commission has updated the monitoring and reporting guidance for installations covered by the EU emissions trading scheme.

Installations emitting less than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year will face less demanding emission measurement and verification requirements under the EU emissions trading scheme (EUETS) from 2008 as a result of new monitoring and reporting guidelines published in September.1The guidelines set out how installations must measure and report CO2 emissions. The new rules are the result of a wide-ranging, two-year review that aimed to minimise regulatory and financial burdens while ensuring data accuracy and reliability.

The European Commission says the new guidelines will cut firms’ costs and make it easier to meet EUETS reporting requirements.

The lighter touch for small emitters was widely expected as these installations have frequently complained of high monitoring and verification costs. From 1 January 2008, small installations will be allowed simpler monitoring plans and face less stringent requirements on the accuracy of their emissions monitoring.

However, the guidelines for larger emitters have been beefed up. They now include stricter rules on the preparation of monitoring plans and all installations will be expected to meet the highest accuracy “tier” unless this is “not technically feasible or would lead to unreasonable costs”.

To head off disputes between installations and regulators, the guidance includes new definitions for technical feasibility and unreasonable costs. But it also clarifies that cost alone will not justify relaxing the standards for major source streams.

The Commission has also eased the rules in other areas. The thresholds for minor and de minimis source streams have been increased. Minor streams will be defined as those jointly emitting less than 5,000 tonnes of fossil CO2 per year, or less than 10% of the installation’s total annual emissions, although this threshold will be capped at 100,000tCO2.

Similarly, the threshold for de minimis emission streams that would not be required to meet even the lowest standard of monitoring has been doubled from 500tCO2, or less than 1% of an installation’s emissions, to 1,000tCO2 or 2% of total emissions.

Another change is that the most rigorous requirements now only apply to fossil fuels. Less demanding “non-tier” approaches like mass balance calculations can be used for pure biomass streams.

Operators will also be able to use laboratories that are not certified to EN ISO 17025:2005 as long as they can demonstrate labs are “technically competent and able to generate technically valid results using the relevant analytical procedures”.

Other changes include updated emissions factors for different fuels and industrial processes in light of the latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ENDS Reports 385, p 7   and 387, pp 29-31  ). There are also new rules on the use of continuous emissions monitoring systems.

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