Vales Point power station

NOx emission reduction and licence variation from 1 January 2022

a view of Vales Point power stationIn December 2021 the EPA significantly reduced nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission limits and introduced strict new monitoring and reporting requirements for Vales Point Power Station as part of a five-year licence variation for the licensee, Delta Electricity.

The licence variation begins on 1 January 2022 and includes

  • A one hour average NOx 99 percentile limit of 850 milligrams per cubic metre - down 23% from the previous licence limit of 1100 milligrams per cubic metre.
  • A one hour average NOx 100 percentile limit of 980 milligrams per cubic metre - down 35% from the previous licence limit of 1500 milligrams per cubic metre

Over the past six months Delta Electricity has undertaken works to improve NOx emissions from the Vales Point Power Station including the installation of new burner tips in boiler six, and the upgrade of the Distributed Control System to optimise the operation of boilers five and six.

The reduced limits reflect the changes made by Delta Electricity to reduce NOx emissions and the anticipated plant performance.

Operation of the Vales Point Power Station at these reduced limits is predicted to comply with the new National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure 2021 (NEPM) standard for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the local community.

In addition, the licensee of Vales Point power station is also required to

  • install an additional air monitoring station at Wyee Point for NOx, sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5) by 1 July 2022
  • conduct a NOx emission control engineering feasibility study by 31 December 2022 and a SOx emission reduction study report by 1 July 2022, and
  • complete a Pollution Reduction Program which includes a required Trigger, Action and Response Plan to minimise the risk of any NOx concentration limit exceedances at the premises and the continual improvement of their response to abnormal conditions that may lead to exceedances, by 1 July 2022.

The licence variation followed a thorough assessment of Delta Electricity’s application and supporting information in accordance with the EPA’s statutory obligations, as well as expert modelling and technical advice, and a public consultation period where more than 1,800 submissions were received.

  • View Delta Electricity's application, supporting information and a consultation summary on Have your Say.

The full decision-making report and supporting technical documentation are available here

The EPA met with key stakeholders and called for feedback using

  • Have Your Say webpage
  • community survey
  • email submissions
  • meetings with stakeholders
  • media and social media

Feedback

The feedback from community groups, industry, health professionals, academics and the community included

  • surveys completed: 427
  • email submissions: 323
  • one group submission: 1065 signatures
  • Total responses: 1815

The majority of feedback strongly opposed approval of the licence variation application.

Some of the concerns raised were

  • The impact on health of the community residing in the vicinity of the power station, particularly that respiratory conditions could be caused or exacerbated ,
  • The availability and affordability of pollution reduction technology such as Low NOx Burners (LNB) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).
  • Concerns regarding climate change and a desire to transition to renewable energy sources.

The vast majority of submissions wanted a requirement that Delta install pollution prevention technology, reduce emission limits similar to European standards and to set mandatory targets for environment improvement.

The emission limits of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the Vales Point Power Station will be significantly reduced from 1 January 2022. The five-year licence variation issued in December 2021, and effective from 1 January 2022, also introduces strict monitoring and reporting requirements.

The licence variation requires

  • A one hour average NOx 99 percentile limit of 850 milligrams per cubic metre - down 23% from the previous licence limit of 1100 milligrams per cubic metre.
  • A one hour average NOx 100 percentile limit of 980 milligrams per cubic metre - down 35% from the previous licence limit of 1500 milligrams per cubic metre
  • Install an additional air monitoring station at Wyee Point for NOx, sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5)
  • Conduct a NOx emission control engineering feasibility study and a SOx emission reduction study report, and
  • Complete a Pollution Reduction Program which includes a required ‘Trigger, Action and Response Plan’ to minimise the risk of any NOx concentration limit exceedances at the premises and the continual improvement of their response to abnormal conditions that may lead to exceedances.

The Vales Point Power Station Environment Protection Licence prior to the licence variation included the following emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx)

  • a NOx 99 percentile limit of 1100 milligrams per cubic metre
  • a NOx 100 percentile limit of 1500 milligrams per cubic metre

The EPA granted a licence variation for the Vales Point Power Station with significantly tightened NOx emission standards than what was initially requested by Delta Electricity. This followed a thorough review by the EPA which included expert modelling and technical advice and an assessment of Delta Electricity’s NOx emission variation application in accordance with our statutory obligations.

In considering Delta’s application, the EPA also requested for DPIE Atmospheric Science to prepare a Regional Air Modelling Report and consulted with NSW Health who advised the EPA that any reductions in the concentration of air pollutants is likely to have a health benefit.

The EPA also undertook a public consultation where more than 1,800 submissions were received and considered. It is not a requirement under the POEO Act to consult publicly about this application, but the EPA invited comment because we were keen to hear what the community had to say.

The NSW Government is a signatory to the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure (NEPM). The NEPM sets the ambient air standards for six key pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, ozone and particles (particulates) – including PM 10 and PM 2.5.

As a world class regulator, the EPA has a comprehensive and robust framework for regulating power stations in NSW including legally enforceable conditions relating to noise, air, water, land contamination, waste and other operational matters designed to protect the community and the environment. 

The EPA has numerous tools to achieve environmental compliance including licence conditions, notices and directions, formal warnings, mandatory audits, enforceable undertakings, legally binding pollution reduction programs, penalty notices and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools see the EPA’s Compliance Policy.

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