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The power industry accounted for nearly one third of the $20 billion spent worldwide last year for water and wastewater treatment chemicals. The energy crisis in the U.S. and specifically the future swing to coal from natural gas will substantially change both the power segment and the total world market. The world market will expand at a more rapid rate and the U.S. share will be greater than previously predicted says the McIlvaine Company in its on-line report Water and Wastewater Treatment Chemicals: World Market.
Over the last decade U.S. investment in new power generation has been mostly single cycle gas turbines that require no water treatment chemicals. The sharp rise in natural gas prices is causing plant builders to switch to combined cycle plants and coal-fired generators. Annual treatment expenditures for a gas turbine combined cycle plant are significant. Coal-fired plants need nearly four times the quantity of treatment chemicals as do combined cycle plants.
The power industry pays 50 percent more for treatment chemicals than do the municipal water treatment plants of the world. The power industry buys twice as many chemicals as do the municipal wastewater treatment plants. U.S. power plants account for one-third of treatment chemicals used in the power industry and 10 percent of treatment chemicals used in all industries. Therefore a substantial expansion of the U.S. power market affects the entire world treatment market. Over the last six months developers have scrambled to initiate active planning and engineering of 68 new coal-fired power plants. These plants will be primarily built in Western and Midwest states. Wyoming alone has more than seven coal-fired projects in planning or construction. In addition, owners of existing coal-fired plants are taking steps to increase output and extend life. This resurgence of the U.S. power industry will create additional sales in the 2005-10 period. Corrosion inhibitor sales will be increased by more than $200 million annually. Scale inhibitors will increase by more than $100 million annually. More modest impact will be made on organic and inorganic flocculants, ion exchange resins, activated carbon, defoamers, chelants, oxidizers, biocides and pH inhibitors.