Industrial Boilers and Air Emission Licenses (AEL)

You may believe that your company’s manufacturing processes do not result in any harmful emissions. However, if you are running an industrial boiler on your premises, you may well need to apply for an Atmospheric Emission License (AEL).

In 2013, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) declared that a small boiler is a controlled emitter in terms of section 23(1) of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act, 2004, and thereby established emissions standards for the small boiler in terms of section 24 of the National Environment Management Air Quality Act.

A ‘small boiler’ is defined as ‘a boiler with a design capacity equal to 10MW but less than 50MW net heat input per unit’ (Small Boiler Declaration, DEA, 2013).

How do boilers work?

A boiler works by burning fuel to heat water and to generate steam, which can then be used for the following purposes:

  • Heating,

  • Hot water supply, and

  • Generating electricity.

However, the by-product of running a boiler is not just steam. The fuel that is burned also generates emissions. This is a fact that may be overlooked by many companies.

Boilers are typically fuelled by gas, oil or coal. Boiler emissions from burning these substances can be very harmful. Toxins include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and various other volatile compounds – greenhouse gasses may even be involved. Fine particles of dust could also be released into the air.

If you are running a boiler, it is essential that determine if it is a small boiler (with annual reporting requirements), or a bigger boiler, in which case you may have to submit an AEL application.

Air Quality Parameters Assessed by a Specialist in the field

In South Africa, air pollution is controlled by the Air Quality Act, 39 of 2004 (AQA), which provides guidelines for minimum emissions. To ensure that you are in line with the SA air quality regulations and that you reduce the impact of your boiler emissions, you need to have your air quality assessed by an environmental management service provider such as Fox Civil & Environmental Engineers Pty Ltd. We are able to determine the type of emissions if any, that are being released and will devise an air quality management plan.

Emissions from your boiler should be measured (or calculated). We can then suggest an air quality management plan to minimise these emissions and provide ongoing air quality monitoring. We are also able to assist with the application process for the Atmospheric Emission License.

Fox Civil & Environmental Engineers Pty Ltd can assist organizations with the following areas of specialization:

  • Atmospheric Emission Licensing (AEL)

  • Atmospheric Emission Licence Annual Reporting

  • Air Quality Impact Assessments

Should you require a proposal for professionally registered scientists to conduct the entire Atmospheric Emission Licensing (AEL) and Environmental Authorisation (EA) process for a proposed development from start to finish, including specialist studies, please do not hesitate to contact Fox Civi & Environmental Engineers (Pty) Ltd at

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