Chinese pollution will ensure maximum U.S. air pollution expenditures
Recent publicity on Chinese power plant smog and soot deposition in California is making voters aware pollution control needs to be addressed globally. This means the U.S., given current rules, could find itself in the embarrassing situation of emitting six times as much SO2 as China. The McIlvaine Company, in its report "World FGD Market," predicts new rules will ensure nearly all U.S. coal-fired power plants will be equipped with scrubbers to remove SO2 by 2020...
NORTHFIELD, IL, June 16, 2006 -- Recent publicity relative to the contribution of Chinese power plants to smog and soot deposition in California is making the voters aware that pollution control needs to be addressed on a global basis. This will mean that the U.S. must set an example. But given the present regulations the U.S. could find itself in the embarrassing situation of emitting six times as much SO2 as China.
The McIlvaine Company, in its report "World FGD Market," predicts that this won't happen. New regulations will ensure virtually all coal-fired power plants in the U.S. will be equipped with scrubbers to remove SO2 by 2020.
The Sunday, June 11, New York Times article "Pollution from Chinese Coal Casts Shadow around the Globe" leads the reader to believe that China will continue to be a polluter on a scale dwarfing countries such as the United States.
The article references the 22 million tons of SO2 released in China and 10 million tons in the U.S. But nearly half the emissions in China are from small furnaces in industry and even commercial and residential buildings. The construction of new coal-fired electricity generators will eliminate all these small polluting sources.
Furthermore, contrary to the article, all the FGD systems being installed by necessity have to capture the SO2 fumes. Operation without injecting the limestone would quickly result in destruction of the plant through corrosion. McIlvaine is reporting on every project. Most new units are guaranteed for 95% efficiency. Virtually all systems are of European, U.S. and Japanese design.
The article quotes officials as targeting installation of scrubbers on all plants by 2010. (This won't happen, but it is possible that by 2015 this huge program could be completed.) But if it did, here are the results. You eliminate small sources with ten million tons of SO2 emission leaving 16 million raw tons. With 95% efficient scrubbers, the emissions would be only 800,000 tons.
The U.S. is only targeting a reduction to 4.8 million tons in 2010. Therefore, our emissions would be six times that of China. By 2020 present regulations would result in more than two million tons of SO2 emissions in the U.S. So even if the Chinese program is not completed until 2020, their emissions at some point fall below those of the U.S.
Relative to mercury, the Chinese scrubbers will remove most of the mercury along with the SO2. By addition of bromine or chlorine they can remove as much as 90%. The U.S. in 2010 is only targeting 34% mercury reduction.
McIlvaine predicts that the U.S. will pass new legislation that will insure that U.S. emissions are comparable (on a per MW basis) to those in Japan, Western Europe, and (with its new program) China.
Even without new federal legislation it is likely that all U.S. power plants will have to install scrubbers before 2020. The driver will be reduction in fine particulate. SO2 reacts in the atmosphere to form fine particulate sulfates. Fine particulate has been identified as causing more than 40,000 deaths per year in the U.S. The national law requires states to meet tough very low ambient fine particulate levels well before 2020. The installation of scrubbers will be the most cost effective way for states to make these reductions. Therefore, the PM2.5 law alone is going to insure that most plants will be scrubbed.
The McIlvaine Company (www.mcilvainecompany.com) is based in Northfield, IL, with a staff of 35 people that includes engineers, scientists and market researchers.