NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    JUNE 2015

Keep Adapting to Offset Shrinking Coal Market in the U.S.

The coal-fired power plant activity is booming in Asia and Africa but slow in the U.S. How do companies which have relied on the U.S. coal-fired market adjust?

  1. Pursue the coal-fired O&M market in the U.S:   There are 220,000 MW of existing U.S. coal-fired power plants which will be making disproportionately large investments just to keep these 50 year old facilities running for the next 20 or 30 years.  There are four drivers:
  1. It costs more to keep a very old power plant in operation
  2. Solid waste, wastewater effluent and air pollution regulations will continue to impact spending
  3. Power plants are losing their experienced personnel and are receptive to outsourcing
  4. There are innovative ways to improve operations by:
    1. Improving efficiency
      1. Extract more heat from the flue gas
      2. Automate operations
      3. Use treated municipal wastewater
      4. Burn sewage sludge
      5. Burn cheaper coals
    2. Creating salable byproducts
      1. Steam for ethanol and other cogeneration recipients
      2. Hydrochloric acid
      3. Rare earths (one step process for making acid and then using it to leach the valuable metals)
      4. Gasify municipal waste and receive tipping fees
  1. Pursue the booming industrial market in the U.S.: There are new chemical, petrochemical and steel plants in planning and construction.  Industrial boilers at existing power plants still need to meet the MACT rules.
  2. Develop products for gas turbine combined cycle power plants.
  3. Pursue the oil and gas markets in the U.S.
  4. Pursue offshore markets
    1. China is more receptive to some new technologies than ever before due to the very stringent regulations and pressures from the citizens and government due to smog
    2. Coal gasification for the purpose of making chemicals and synthetic natural gas requires much of the same equipment needed by coal-fired boilers
      1. Big market is China
      2. Korea, Ukraine and India are all moving forward with coal conversion projects

There are ways for small companies without the international reach to be successful. However, they need to have products which are superior to those offered locally in other countries.  Alternatively, they need to have the application and process expertise to provide a better solution. 

This expertise is instantly transferable around the globe.  For example, a company can concentrate just on emission problems of the bauxite industry.   The market is not large enough to warrant the investment in expertise and technology by the large companies. However, it is sufficient to sustain a small company.  There are similar examples in many other industries which have the following characteristics:

  • Complex and difficult solutions required
  • Market is distributed around the globe
  • Market is large enough but not so large as to attract the big international companies

The following McIlvaine services can help companies adapt:

42EI Utility Tracking System

42EIC Chinese Utility Plans

Industrial Air Plants and Projects

N021 World Fabric Filter and Element Market

N008 Scrubber/Adsorber/Biofilter World Markets

N049 Oil, Gas, Shale and Refining Markets and Projects