Over the next 12 years owners of coal-fired power plants will spend $200 billion dollars to add flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems to existing and new combustion units, according to the latest forecasts by the McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com) in its online report World FGD Markets.

McIlvaine predicts over 800,000 megawatts of coal-fired boilers will be fitted with scrubber systems, totaling over 2,000 units at an average cost of $100 million/unit. McIlvaine says China will be the largest purchaser of these systems followed by the United States.

The forecast is based primarily on known projects through 2013. Subsequent to that date the forecast is based on a combination of known projects and those that are likely due to regulatory, new construction or other initiatives. These factors have been weighed using a tool called “Important Event Odds.” For example, the odds are calculated at 10-1 in favor of natural gas prices staying above $4/MMBtu.

The forecast is relatively unaffected by the severity of greenhouse gas regulation. Europe is presently building a large number of new coal-fired plants with FGD. These units are 30 percent more efficient than the older units, which are being retired. Thus, one of the main strategies for CO2 reduction is the replacement of inefficient coal plants with new ones. This boosts the market for FGD capital equipment, but not the consumables market (e.g. lime and limestone), according to McIlvaine.

Most of the systems which will be installed will use limestone as the reagent introduced as wet slurry. There will be major investments in ball mills, pumps, wastewater treatment, and stack liners for these systems. The markets for lime and limestone will increase substantially as well.

The major FGD system suppliers are U.S., Japanese, and European companies. However, Chinese licensees are gaining extensive experience and are likely to become international suppliers of systems, according to McIlvaine. Presently they are building FGD systems in China at less than 50 percent of the cost elsewhere in the world.

McIlvaine predicts the market will be strengthened due to the need to remove mercury and HCl as well as SO2. The need for multi-pollutant control will shape the decisions as to which type of scrubber will be selected. Dry scrubbers are better at removing SO3. Wet scrubbers are cost effective in removing mercury chloride and HCl. They will also remove more selenium. On the other hand, dry scrubbers will remove more arsenic, lead, and other particulate metals.

McIlvaine says the market will also be shaped by the desire to be “carbon capture ready”. If SO2 limits as low as 10 ppm are deemed to be necessary to ensure good operation of a carbon capture scrubber, then this will be an important parameter in scrubber selection. It will be difficult for dry scrubbers to meet these limits.