EXPPERTS Meeting, Warsaw, Poland, 18-19 September 2013

EXPPERTS is an annual meeting run by Arena International. Previous meetings have all been held in London, but this 8th meeting in the series moved to Warsaw, Poland, and in doing so, brought in a new perspective. I’ve attended and presented at this meeting for the past 3 years and on this occasion was asked at the last minute to cover as chair for the meeting. Around 70 delegates from 15 countries attended, with a good representation from industry, regulatory authorities and industry.

The first morning of the meeting focussed on the update given by Thierry Lecomte of the European Commission on the status of the new BREFs (best available technology, BAT, reference documents) which are issued in support of the new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). The draft document has been circulated and over 800 comments have been submitted by EURELECTRIC alone, reflecting some major concerns over the BREF requirements. There appears to be a significant amount of editing to be done before the final BREFs are published next year. There was a lot of open discussion over definitions of “economical” in terms of what BAT would be applicable in different plant situations. There were also concerns over the application of BAT and ELV (emission limit value) requirements on grandfathered plants and those run in emergency situations. But Mr Lecomte assured the meeting that these issues would all be clarified in the final document if they were not clear already.

There were numerous excellent presentations on new technologies for particulate, SO2 and NOx control and even a paper on stack-lining technologies to cope with the wetter, acidic stacks that will arise as a result of FGD retrofits. There was a paper showing the applicability of SNCR technologies to plants which cannot fit SCR due to physical and/or geographical constraints. SNCR should also be considered as a cost-effective option for plants with limited life extensions as the capex can often be lower.

General discussions during the meeting indicated some significant and interesting differences in opinion on the IED in different countries. Some are clearly finding the requirements more challenging than others and the availability of green credits in whatever form was a hot topic. For example, there was considerable concern over Germany’s feed in tariff which has proved to be very expensive for consumers. France may face similar increases in costs to the consumers as a result of the new tax on nuclear power and the reduction in nuclear contribution from 75% to 50% in the near future.

Poland seems to be in a different place – with coal providing around 90% of the country’s power and in over capacity. The recent move towards the promotion of biomass though tax credits appears to have failed as too many credits resulted in a significant drop in value and a lot of stranded assets in the form of incomplete biomass plants and import plans. One delegate suggested that Poland would follow the EC requirements to the letter but, at the moment, this would be through the cleaning up of coal-fired plants. Without stricter EC guidelines or significant national action, biomass will not have a place in Poland. This is in complete contrast to the situation in Denmark where the green subsidy system will see the conversion of coal to biomass reach 50% by 2020, and a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions from the country within the same period. Slovenia has also just successfully converted one large CHP to cofiring biomass as a result of national “CO2 coupons”. There is also a healthy source of local biomass in the area. In the Czech Republic the focus is on extending the life of existing plants. Biomass is being considered but there is a balance to be reached between the value of the “green bonuses” and the limited availability of biomass. In Italy, ENEL is investing significantly in plant upgrades such as replacing ESPs with baghouses and improvements in plant efficiencies, not only in plants in Italy, but also in ENEL plants in Chile, Russia and Mongolia.

The proceedings of the meeting are not openly available but can be purchased through the conference website in a week or so: