Legislation is creating excellent growth opportunities for the air pollution control equipment market in Western Europe. While the future of coal in power generation remains a challenge in some markets, the high price of gas and the emergence of advanced clean coal technologies – coupled with enhanced operational efficiencies promises to help coal-fired generation – retain its relevance and boost the market for air pollution control equipment.
Frost & Sullivan (http://www.power.frost.com) finds that the Western European air pollution control equipment market earned revenues of €970 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach €1.165 billion in 2012. "Legislation is undoubtedly the most important driver of growth for sales of air pollution control technologies," notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Jonathan Robinson. "The Large Combustion Plant Directive is the most important among a spate of recent legislation".
Environmental technologies do not improve performance and, therefore, constitute a capital cost that yields no economic benefit. As such, there is no incentive for power plants/utilities to install such technologies unless compelled to by a national or, as in the case of Europe, supranational governing authorities such as the European Union. The Large Combustion Plant Directive obligates plants to either implement the necessary technology or face the ultimate sanction – permanent closure.
Coal, of course, releases high levels of dust, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. However, technologies such as fabric filters, electrostatic precipitators, flue gas desulphurisation and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) all act to reduce these emissions.
"The monetary value of the air pollution market for power plants in Europe is very closely linked to the debate between gas, coal, nuclear and renewables," explains Mr. Robinson. "If large-scale gas or nuclear construction takes place, then it severely restricts the market for environmental technologies, as neither of these fuels gives off the range and level of emissions as that of coal".
To promote market development, air pollution control equipment manufacturers have to support the case for coal-fired generation as much as possible.
"The more they can help influence governments away from gas-fired or nuclear-powered plants, the better," advises Robinson. "Coal does have its merits and the emissions that it gives off can be dealt with using technology; manufacturers need to ensure that decision makers and the wider population are aware of this."
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