NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                                JUNE 2013

$532 Billon Coal-fired Retrofit and Upgrade Market in the U.S. and Europe

Improving efficiency, reducing operating costs and meeting environmental regulations will result in a huge retrofit and upgrade investment at coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and Europe. This is the conclusion reached by the McIlvaine Company in it Utility Tracking System.


2013 Installed MW X 1000

2020 Installed MW X 1000

$   Billions





U. S.








Despite the low cost of natural gas at present, DOE predicts the U.S. will burn more coal in 2035 than at present. Coal consumption at European utilities is up substantially this year. Coal is proving much more economical than alternatives in Europe. Therefore, there is a great incentive to burn coal cleanly and economically.

The fact that France has just contracted to upgrade three 600 MW coal-fired boilers and to extend the life for another twenty-five years is testimony to the new European commitment to coal. Eastern Europe depends on coal. There is an ongoing program to reduce environmental emissions.

In both the U.S. and Europe, the largest expenditures will be to improve combustion efficiency. The average U.S. plant emits more than 30 percent for CO2 and uses 30 percent more coal than a new ultra-supercritical plant. Upgrades will not be able to fully duplicate a new ultra-supercritical plant, but they can improve efficiency by 10 percent or more.

Already many European plants have switched from volumetric to gravimetric feeders. Controlling the variation in fuel flow by itself can improve efficiency by several percent. The smart valves and pumps available today increase performance and reduce maintenance costs.

The biggest expenditures will be in monitoring and automation. Monitoring the conditions at a number of specific points in the boiler and then varying fuel, the air flow through individual burners will be one upgrade. The automation of the operation is necessary because of the complex trade-offs between efficiency and NOx emissions.

Neural networks which use empirical knowledge to optimize operations will be another important addition to the upgrades. These, in turn, will operate better by replacing today’s sensors with smart sensors which digitally convey the intelligence to the transmitter rather than just send an analog signal.

For more information on Utility Tracking System, click on: