In the downstream activities, the elements in Galp Energia’s chain of operations which are most relevant in terms of direct emissions into the atmosphere are the industrial facilities – and in particular the refineries.
Indeed, intensive energy consumption underpins the refining activity. The refineries have been favouring the consumption of cleaner fuels, which has led to a marked reduction in the emissions into the atmosphere and preservation of the air quality.
The consumption of fuels for internal burning with a lower sulphur content, both due to the reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel, and to the burning of natural gas and fuel gas as opposed to liquid fuels, has led to a reduction in the emissions of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere in recent years. In addition to this, the refineries have sulphur recovery units, thus preventing the sulphur from being emitted into the atmosphere when the fuels are being burned.
The investments made at the refineries, in particular the implementation of low NOx burners, which are the best available techniques, has minimized emissions and, consequently, the impact on air quality. However, NOx emissions are inherent to the consumption of cleaner fuels, which explains the increase in emissions. Likewise, positive results have been recorded for particle emissions.
The installation of electrostatic precipitators (best available technique), which required large-scale investment, and the use of cleaner fuels have also made important contributions to reducing particle emissions and Galp Energia’s impact on air quality.
Regarding mitigation of the greenhouse effect, the strategy for reducing CO2 emissions should be highlighted. This is by means of the focus on energy efficiency and the consumption of fuels with lower carbon content, as set out in Galp Energia’s strategy on combating climate change.
The increase in emissions from 2009 to 2010 is explained by the change in the refineries’ level of activity. In fact, the change in the level of raw material processing, the start of full operations of the cogeneration plant at the Sines refinery, the scheduled stoppages for maintenance purposes and the unscheduled stoppages resulted in changes in emissions although the increase in absolute terms does not reflect poorer performance.
It can be noted that in recent years there has been a consolidated reduction in specific CO2 emissions, i.e. not counting the effects of greater intensity of activity. In fact, the efforts undertaken have led to important progress in recent years regarding CO2 emissions, demonstrating, in an integrated manner with the European industrial sectors, the cost effectiveness of the current European carbon trading scheme as an incentive to reduce emissions.
The conversion project for the refineries also enables a reduction in polluting emissions entering the atmosphere, since it will allow for the additional production of hydrocracker fuel. In comparison with traditional diesel, the use of this fuel will lead to a reduction in polluting emissions entering the atmosphere from road transport, which is:
- the cause of a large proportion of the national greenhouse gas emissions;
- directly related with air quality in the urban areas.
It is also worth noting that, in terms of the production of electrical energy at the national level, Galp Energia has also made a positive contribution to air quality. In fact, the operation of the Carriço and Powercer cogenerators has allowed for a reduction in CO2 emissions, in comparison with the average of the national sector of electricity producers.
Also regarding downstream activities, the energy efficiency project for service areas should also be mentioned. A range of initiatives has been developed with a view to reducing the energy consumption, integrating energy management and decentralizing production of electricity using renewable energies. Naturally, these concerns result in a reduction in emissions into the atmosphere and improved air quality.
Lastly, it should be stated that Galp Energia monitors air quality and checks emissions into the atmosphere (both on an occasional and a continuous basis), in compliance with the legal requirements or according to voluntary best practice.
In the case of the refineries, Galp Energia publishes the Data Books on Safety, Health and the Environment annually. These contain detailed information on the results of the continuous monitoring.