Increased coal combustion electricity generation enhances emissions of important air pollutant


03 Feb 2006, Hebei Province, China --- Coal Power Plant in Hebei Province --- Image by © Liu Liqun/Corbis

The Environmental Protection Agency has published figures for emissions of four significant air pollutants. These pollutants can produce respiratory complications, contribute to the rise of acid-levels in soil and surface water, and damage plant life.

This latest information from the EPA shows that, in 2012, Ireland continued to breach its nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission ceiling and, in fact, moved further from the ceiling, which was set under the EU’s National Emissions Ceiling Directive. This Directive requires that emission ceilings are to be met by 2010 and must not be exceeded in any following year.

The road transport sector has been one of the main contributing factors behind the high NOx levels, responsible for over 47% of total national emissions in 2012. The industrial and power generation sectors are also key sources of NOx emissions. The figures published today show that NOx emissions increased between 2011 and 2012 due to an increase in emissions from coal fired electricity generation – which reflects low coal and carbon prices – and an increase in cement production. The increase in NOx emissions mirrors the increase also reported for greenhouse gas emissions in 2012.

Dr Eimear Cotter, Senior Manager, EPA said,

“An increase in NOx emissions and greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 underlines the need to decouple emissions from economic activity through, for example, promoting energy efficiency, alternative fuels and energy. Travelling less by car as well as influencing consumer choice in terms of buying cleaner vehicles with improved emission control technologies will also help to reduce NOx and greenhouse gas emissions”.



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