Coal-fired Generators Will Complete 340 Projects in 2011

McIlvaine estimates the investment in clean air technology will be more than $21 billion.

There are 340 large air pollution upgrade projects due to be completed in 2011. The utility investment in these projects will exceed $21 billion. These projects are each listed in a pair of McIlvaine databases, according to a company press release. "Utility Environmental Upgrade Tracking System" covers the entire world except China. Because China is such a booming market, it is treated separately in "Chinese Utility Plans." The latter is published in both English and Chinese.

These are only projects to retrofit air pollution control equipment at existing plants. There is an equally active market for air pollution control equipment for new plants. In general, the retrofit activity for flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and particulate is in the United States and Europe. Most of the investment in China is for new plants, but for densely populated areas, there is a program to utilize selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce nitrogen oxides.

In the United States, the retrofits will be modest this year. However, the next few years will be very active with hundreds of projects slated. A new utility air toxic rule is about to be promulgated. The uncertainty slowed investment in 2011 but still does not change the 2014 need to install the equipment. So, in the 2012-14 period, the United States will be the leading purchaser of air pollution control equipment.

There are few retrofit projects in India but there are many projects associated with new coal-fired boilers. Most of the activity in Europe is in the east.

The predominant technology for FGD is wet scrubbing using ground limestone. This will require big investments in rotating items such as ball mills, pumps, and fans. There are few suppliers of this large equipment. In the past, when orders have surged, it is these items that have led to delays. The amount of readily available high-quality limestone is diminishing as existing users have contracted for the supplies available. This is leading to concepts involving regional grinding and transport.

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Source: McIlvaine Company