World Power Plant SO2 Removal Market to Double by 2006

March 2, 2001

Orders for flue gas desulfurization systems which capture SO2 from power plant stacks will increase from $3 billion in 2001 to over $6 billion in 2006. The U.S. market share will rise from 18 percent to 50 percent over the same period. These are the findings in a new continually updated on line report World FGD Markets published by the McIlvaine Company.

This expansion will be driven by two forces. Environmental regulations will force retrofit investments. Simultaneously, a substantial expansion of coal-fired generating capacity will expand the new generator market.

While there is a modest retrofit program in the U.K. and in Eastern Europe, it is the U.S. that is providing the bulk of the retrofit opportunities. The new administration is emphasizing the reliance on existing coal-fired power plants to provide short-term solutions to the electricity short falls. At the same time there is near universal agreement that SO2 removal systems must be installed on all existing coal-fired capacity. The differences in recommendations only involve timing. Since the installation of SO2 removal systems on all coal-fired power plants in the U.S. will involve an investment of $36 billion and since the timing is in flux, it will be necessary to adjust forecasts continually to even obtain accuracies of plus or minus $l billion in a given year.

The market for SO2 removal for new coal-fired generators is substantial because in most countries any new coal-fired plant will be equipped with highly efficient SO2 removal systems. China and Vietnam as well as the wealthier Asian countries are abiding by this policy. Asia has substantial electricity needs and coal will be the main fuel utilized to meet these needs.

The U.S. is now planning to utilize clean coal technologies and expand coal-fired generating capacity. The fact that coal is presently less than 25 percent of the cost of natural gas provides big incentives to select coal as the fuel of choice. Annual orders for new coal-fired generators will rise to over 10,000 MW per year by 2005. This is 1.4 percent of the installed generation base and only 40 percent of the total new capacity which will be ordered in each year. This means the other 60 percent must come from natural gas. If gas prices do not fall below $4/mm btu then coal will capture an even larger percentage of the total.

Limestone wet scrubbing with a gypsum by-product will continue to be the leading technology on all continents. However other technologies will garner significant shares. Lime based systems offer high efficiency and low capital costs. Ammonia scrubbers are attractive in selected locations because of the sales value of the by-product ammonium sulfate. Where sulfuric acid demand is high locally, catalytic systems also will be attractive.

Source: McIlvaine Company

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