How to develop the heating sector to ensure better air quality?
The European Environment Agency estimates that long-term exposure to poor air quality is responsible for over 400,000 premature deaths in Europe every year. The worst air quality read-outs are reported during winter, when temperatures are very low and there is high demand for heat. In some countries, one of the causes of poor air quality is the employment of old and inefficient coal or wood-burning stoves used in households.
Very often, fuels of the poorest quality are used in old stoves. This results in the emission of significant amounts of dangerous substances such as PM2.5, PM10 and various chemical compounds. Moreover, the emissions are released from chimneys that are not very tall and located close to other residential buildings. The volume of these so-called “low-level emissions'' mean that they have a considerable impact on air quality.
A practical way to resolve the problem could be replacing old, inefficient household heat sources and encouraging the usage of good-quality fuels. Another solution, which might be even more effective in urbanised areas, is a district heating system that provides clean heat to numerous end users.
In its proposal for recasting the EU Directive on Energy Efficiency, the European Commission has put a particular emphasis on district heating and cooling, where the definition of “efficient” systems will gradually be tightened to move away from fossil fuel-based systems. In cogeneration, the aim is to introduce additional criteria for specific emissions in high-efficiency cogeneration (270 gCO2/kWh). District heating will be also influenced by the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
Some industry stakeholders have expressed concerns about the new definition of efficiency and they urge the Commission to keep current criteria for the share of high-efficiency cogeneration heat until 2030.
Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the link between pollution and district heating systems, and the impact that the proposal for the recast Energy Efficiency Directive plays in this regard.
Patryk Demski, Vice-President of the Management Board for Strategy and Development, TAURON Group
Piotr Sprzaczak, Director of the District Heating Department, Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment
Claudia Canevari, Head of Unit, Energy efficiency, DG ENER, European Commission
Ciarán Cuffe MEP, Member ITRE Committee, Rapporteur “Energy performance of buildings”, European Parliament
Margherita Tolotto, Senior Policy Officer for Air Quality and Noise, EEB
Frédéric Simon, Journalist, EURACTIV
09:30 – 09:35 Welcome
09:35 – 09:45 Opening remarks
09:45 – 09:55 Panellist statements
09:55 – 10:40 Discussion and Q&A
10:40 – 10:45 Closing statements
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As fossil fuels continue to be burned to produce heat, Europe’s air quality suffers. With many of these fossil fuels coming from Russia, EU policymakers are seeing an opportunity to speed up their phase-out.