The Interstate Air Quality rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will ensure a big market for flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems, according to FGD: World
Markets, an online report produced by McIlvaine Company. The upshot for utilities: Serious consideration should be given to getting plans and orders in the pipeline soon in order to meet compliance deadlines at existing plants and to have new projects emissions-ready when additional base load coal capacity is needed.
The McIlvaine report predicts that orders for FGD systems will rise to $7 billion/yr in the U.S. by 2007 in addition to a big developing market in Asia. As a result, worldwide orders for FGD systems in 2007 will be $10 billion. Even though Bob McIlvaine, the report’s author, sees the annual market falling to $5 billion/yr thereafter, that is still well above the present level.
The McIlvaine report also predicts that 60% of these systems will be wet scrubbers using limestone as a reagent while 10% will be wet scrubbers using lime. Most will make wall-board quality gypsum (calcium sulfate) as a usable end product. Dry systems using lime will comprise the bulk of the remaining orders. However, systems that produce ammonium sulfate fertilizer and sulfuric acid will also make an impact.
“The Interstate Air Quality rule has been proposed and very likely will be promulgated as proposed,” says McIlvaine. “It will require major reductions in SO2 by 2010.” The rule accomplishes the same level of reduction as would have been achieved under Clear Skies. However, unlike the Clear Skies bill, congressional approval is not required. While this rule focuses on the 30 eastern states, other rules such as those addressing regional haze will force western utilities to install scrubbers as well.
McIlvaine has compiled a list of 214 scrubber projects that are in planning or design in the U.S. More than 250 units will be required in 2010 just for the interstate rule. Regional haze, state rules, and new plant construction will require scrubbers for another 50 units.
Also driving the movement toward scrubbers is the need to reduce mercury. Scrubbers not only capture the SO2, but can also capture some mercury. New mercury rules proposed by EPA anticipate that needed mercury reduction will take place as a co-benefit of FGD scrubbers.
Scrubber installations will require large numbers of boilermakers and other construction personnel. However, the 2010 date in the interstate rule allows for this work to be spread over a six-year period. Larger utilities such as TVA, Duke, and Progress Energy already have units in design and construction. Cinergy and AEP plan to quickly initiate programs to install one or more scrubbers per year over the next six years.
The expanding market will first benefit system suppliers such as Babcock & Wilcox, Marsulex, Alstom, Lurgi,
Wheelabrator, Hamon, Babcock Power, Mitsubishi, and several others. It will also provide substantial business for architect/engineers.