Power Air Quality  Insights  
No. 1            April 21, 2011






The following insights can be sent to you every week. This alert contains the details on the upcoming hot topic hour, breaking news, and the headlines for the Utility E Alert for the previous week. This is one of a number of free services. You can sign up for any of these newsletters and of course request to be removed from the mailing list at any time. See registration following the newsletter.


·         Beneficial Byproducts of Coal Combustion and Gasification is “Hot Topic” on April 28th

·         World Will Invest $1.2 Trillion in New Coal-fired Generators but only $730 Billion in Nuclear and Gas Power in Next Decade

·         New Plants Verify Solar Energy Markets

·         Utility E Alert Headlines for April 15


“Beneficial Byproducts from Coal Combustion and Gasification” is Hot Topic on April 28, 2011


What better way is there for coal burning power plants to go green and reduce their carbon footprint than to fully utilize all of the materials in the coal and the additives used to control pollution and more of the energy in the coal. For many years, power plants have been selling flyash for use in Portland cement and concrete and concrete products as well as gypsum for making wallboard and other products. However, only about a third or less of the available flyash and a quarter of FGD waste is recycled in commercially beneficial uses leaving more than 70 million tons a year to be disposed of in impoundments and landfills.


In addition to recycling more of the solid waste products, power plants could also incorporate proven technologies into their plant operations to produce many important chemicals and materials that would displace other production and result in a significant net decrease in GHGs.  Beneficial byproducts can include hydrochloric acid, calcium sulfate, hydrogen sulfide, elemental sulfur, sulfuric acid and nitrogen compounds such as ammonium nitrate for fertilizer or other ammonia based chemicals. Rare earth metals can even be extracted from flyash or FGD waste potentially at a cost that is only 40 percent of the cost of purchasing these materials from China.


Power plants can also make better use to the waste heat by locating near another process that needs large quantities of lower temperature steam. Co-locating with an ethanol plant is one such example that has the added benefit of providing a reliable source of biomass to co-fire with coal.


Many experts believe that coal combustion byproducts represent a vastly underused resource and a key contributor to reducing GHGs. The question is why are they not exploited to a greater extent? The following speakers will address the issues related to beneficial use of coal combustion byproducts such as economics, regulatory or other impediments, potential GHG reductions, market situation and potential uses for coal-fired power plant wastes as well as describe the available technology for production of beneficial byproducts, present case histories of successful operations and discuss on-going research and development of technology to produce or market byproducts of coal combustion and gasification.


Eric Erickson of Haldor Topsoe will describe the Haldor Topsoe SNOX technology, an exothermic, catalytic process for the removal of SO2 and NOx from flue gas.  SNOX generates additional heat recovery and merchant grade sulfuric acid.  It is ideal for high sulfur coal and petcoke applications as it becomes more efficient and cost effective as the sulfur content of the fuel increases.  


Richard (Rich) Staehle, Vice-president of Business Development at Marsulex Environmental Technologies, will discuss how high efficiency FGD using ammonia instead of limestone (AS-FGD) has been commercially demonstrated in full-scale systems for well over a decade. This process uses the SO2 pollutant as a feedstock in the production of ammonium sulfate, a valuable crop fertilizer. In addition to significant revenue potential from the fertilizer sales, this technology minimizes or eliminates the solid and liquid waste costs and liabilities associated with conventional FGD systems.


Lisa JN Bradley, Ph.D., DABT, Senior Toxicologist and Vice President Environment at AECOM, will present “Perspectives on Health Risks Associated with Beneficial ReUse of Byproducts of Coal Combustion” EPA stated in their June 2010 proposed rule for the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) that their intention was to preserve the Bevill exemption for the beneficial use of CCRs.  However, the preamble to the proposal was essentially an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking for the regulation of these uses.  This contradiction was evident in testimony given by EPA at the recent hearing of the House subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on the McKinley bill (HR 1391).  EPA’s Office of the Inspector General has also recently issued a report titled “EPA Promoted the Use of Coal Ash Products with Incomplete Risk Information.”  This talk will provide a short discussion of the results for risk assessments and risk-based evaluations for the beneficial uses of CCRs, and how EPA’s own CCR risk assessment can help inform the issue.


Duane Abbott of Beltran Technologies, Inc. will discuss process gas cleanup from coal and municipal gasification. Sulfur and other contaminants in the feed to gasifiers used for power generation can lead to corrosion and high stack emissions if the contaminants are not removed. This presentation explores several options for removing sulfur dioxide mist and fine particulate from the process gas.


To register for the "Hot Topic Hour" on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago time), click on: http://www.mcilvainecompany.com/brochures/hot_topic_hour_registration.htm.



NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                     APRIL 2011     


World Will Invest $1.2 Trillion in New Coal-fired Generators But Only $730 Billion in Nuclear and Gas Power in Next Decade


There has been a sudden reversal in the trend away from coal.  The nuclear disaster in Japan coupled with new evidence that gas-fired generators will emit more greenhouse gases than new coal-fired generators are influencing the plans of electric generating companies around the world.  Of the $1.9 trillion now planned for new fossil and nuclear power in 2011-20 period, 62 percent will be coal based. This is the new forecast in Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation, a continuously updated report published by the McIlvaine Company.  www.mcilvainecompany.com.



The biggest investments in new coal-fired generation will be in Asia. However, ultra supercritical coal-fired power plants will replace aging inefficient coal-fired power plants in much of the rest of the world. There are multiple reasons for this revision in direction for the utility industry.


·         Ultra supercritical coal-fired plants are now viewed as a 25 year bridge to the future.

·         Nuclear is now viewed as riskier than before the Japan nuclear disaster.

·         The greenhouse gas impact of shale gas and even conventional gas is much greater than previously believed.

·         New coal-fired generation is a clear economic and environmental choice for the next 25 years.

Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new coal-fired power plants will have very large environmental benefits while not increasing the cost of electricity. These new plants built prior to 2020 can then be replaced in 2045 with whatever is the best choice at that time. Solar and wind are likely to be competitive by that date.  Nuclear could be viewed as safer than it is today.  Coal with CO2 sequestration may also be an option, but not in the near term.


The nuclear problems in Japan create safety and health concerns as well as financial uncertainty.  The costs of future power plants are likely to rise. New arrangements have to be made for spent fuel rods. The siting problem for any individual project will become much larger.  Some countries have already announced changes in their nuclear plans.


Recent very detailed studies have revealed that the methane emissions from conventional gas are much higher than previously believed.  Shale gas has even higher methane emissions.  Since the U.S. will be primarily relying on shale gas by 2020, this will be a high greenhouse gas option.


The perception of coal as “dirty” is based on the ancient fleet operated by the U.S.  The best way to view the alternatives from an environmental perspective is to convert all pollutants to “tons of CO2 equivalent.”  A ton of methane is equal to 29 tons of CO2 due to its more potent greenhouse effect.  Nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate, mercury and other toxics emitted to the air and water can also be expressed in tons of CO2 equivalent.


Another factor to be considered is indirect energy use and consequent CO2 implications.  The energy used to explore, extract and purify shale gas is higher than that needed for conventional gas.  In fact, most new gas will come from sources which require higher amounts of indirect energy. This indirect use can also be expressed in “tons of CO2 equivalent”.


Both old and new coal-fired power plants emit more CO2 than alternatives.




Old coal-fired power plants are also large emitters of a wide range of pollutants to air and water. But new coal-fired power plants with efficient air pollution control systems and zero liquid discharge are low emitters.  Because of the methane emissions both conventional gas and shale gas are relatively large emitters of pollutants when the common metric of “tons of CO2 equivalent” is utilized.



When the direct and indirect emissions are compared based on the common metric it is clear that new coal-fired power plants are the best fossil option.



The biggest driver for coal will be its low cost compared to alternatives. The EIA is projecting that large quantities of shale gas will be utilized in the U.S. But because of the shrinkage in conventional gas production, the U.S. will remain a net importer of gas for the next several decades. Because gas can be converted to liquids or substituted for liquid products there has been an historic ratio of oil to gas prices. Since oil is likely to remain above $100/barrel, gas prices will rise appreciably in the coming years.


The power industry is potentially a consumer of more gas than is used by all other sources combined.  The EIA forecast that gas will only be utilized for 25 percent of power generation in the coming decades is based on the reality that demand drives prices.


The world investment of $1.2 trillion for new coal-fired power plants will act as a big economic stimulus. Because these plants use 30 percent less coal than existing plants, the cost of electricity will be lower than that from existing coal-fired plants with retrofits of expensive air pollution control equipment.

For more information on: Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis & Forecast click on:  http://www.mcilvainecompany.com/brochures/energy.html#n043.




NEWS RELEASE                                                                                          APRIL 2011


New Plants Verify Solar Energy Market


The construction of many new plants to produce the silicon, solar cells and modules needed in solar energy point to the rapid acceptance of this technology. Each month in McIlvaine’s monthly Renewable Energy Update six to ten new facilities are announced. It’s hard to imagine another industry building that many new plants each month.


Along with the many familiar forms of solar energy such as rooftop PV and concentrated solar plants, new ways of harnessing solar energy are announced each month. Solar cells imbedded in pavement, solar washing machines, solar orchards, solar cell phone chargers are just a few of the innovative ideas tracked in recent Renewable Energy Updates.


As a further sign of the acceptance of this technology Del Webb is including solar and other enhanced energy-efficient features at its two new home Sun City communities in the Phoenix metro area. Del Webb already offers solar as an option on new homes to thousands of prospective homebuyers at Woodbridge by Del Webb in northern California; Sun City Shadow Hills in Southern California; and Del Webb River Pointe in New Jersey.


Developers are continually finding new places to place solar panels.  Apartment Building Rooftops are seen as the latest opportunity to generate solar power. It is easier to generate great quantities of solar power from multi-family roofs than from single family homes. Solar Panels have already been installed on many of the large commercial buildings.


To further illustrate the gains being made by this technology, solar power kits are now available from Costco.


The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) recently announced unprecedented first-quarter growth in its utility membership for 2011. So far this year, five major utility groups have joined SEPA increasing its membership by more than 100 percent. SEPA’s utility membership now represents more than 95 percent of the nation’s annual installed solar capacity and 47 percent of all U.S. electric customers. This increase in membership reflects growth in the larger solar industry.


Renewable Energy has moved into the main stream and two reports from McIlvaine provide subscribers with the information needed to stay abreast of this rapidly changing industry. Renewable Energy Update and Projects, as the name suggests, provides a monthly summary of the industry as well as detailed information on wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal and marine projects. Renewable Energy World Markets includes the above as well as market forecasts for countries around the world through the year 2014 for wind, solar, biomass, hydro and geothermal. MWs installed, capital expenditures and kWh of electricity generated are included in the forecasts.


Further details may be found at:



The McIlvaine Company has been tracking the Energy field since 1974 and has been following the renewable energy field for the last five years.


Here are the Headlines for the April 15, 2011 – Utility E Alert




















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Bob McIlvaine


847 784 0012 ext 112






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