Air emission control equipment market soaring high with demand
With government tightening emission norms, the demand for air pollution control equipment is all set to rise. Companies providing right technology at right price are expected to reap the benefit. Air pollution is emerging as a key concern in a developing economy like India; more than 80% of Indian cities violate the prescribed standards of air quality.
With government tightening emission norms, the demand for air pollution control equipment is all set to rise. Companies providing right technology at right price are expected to reap the benefit.
Air pollution is emerging as a key concern in a developing economy like India; more than 80% of Indian cities violate the prescribed standards of air quality. “Air pollution control is one of the major areas of pollution control, along with solid waste, wastewater and hazardous waste. Air is said to be polluted when it contains harmful substances in high concentration and causes undesirable effects on health and the planet, impacting economy adversely,” says Dr Shrikar Dole, Founder & CEO, SDG Foundation.
Air pollution is a change in the physical, chemical and biological characteristic of air that causes adverse effects on humans and other organisms. Air pollution is caused by the release of pollutants through natural processes as well as human activities. Aerosol refers to particles and the gas together
Dr Dole informs, “Natural sources of air pollution include forest fires, volcanoes and emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vegetation etc. Human sources of air pollution include activities that rely on carbon-based fuels eg, transportation, electric power plants and industrial processes such as oil and gas production, cement manufacturing, paints and solvents etc. Most air pollution comes from energy use by burning of fossil fuels which releases gases and chemicals into the air.”
Pollutant concentrations is influenced by many factors such as the quantity of pollutants released by sources, the distance from the sources, and meteorological conditions such as air temperature, the stability of the air, wind speed and direction.
Pollutants are in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. The major gaseous pollutants include sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), Carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) VOCs and as well as ozone. Other pollutants are fine particles also known as particulate matter (PM), which are tiny particles of solid or liquid including toxic pollutants such as lead, mercury, cadmium, dioxins, and benzene.
According to a recent study by the Indian branch of Greenpeace, smog is assuming serious proportions on the subcontinent. It is not just the capital New Delhi that is affected by massive air pollution. The study has shown that fine particulate pollution in the 168 cities studied exceeds the limit defined as harmless.
Looking at the average annual concentration of fine particulate matter of under 10 micrometers in size, no single city in India complies with the international standard of 20 µg/m³ considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be harmless. Alongside its effects on health, polluted air also results in economic costs totaling three percent of gross domestic product – according to an estimate by the World Bank.
“Pollutants are dangerous because they can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and worsen bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer,” observes Dr Dole.
Air pollution control technologies
The adverse impact of air pollution on the human health and vegetation as well as contribution to climate change is leading to rapid adoption of air pollution control technologies. Increasing magnitude of air pollution across the globe is encouraging countries to deploy equipment to control the levels of air pollution. “The selection of the appropriate control technology - such as bag filter, cyclone, electrostatic precipitator, flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) and scrubber - is determined by the pollutant and process adopted – for example collection, conversion to less harmful forms, or destruction,” explains Dr Dole.
The air pollution control equipment market can also be segmented based on different end-users and applications. The different end-users in this marker include government, utility, industrial sector, commercial sector and residential sector Dr Dole says, “Trapping of heat in the atmosphere due to greenhouse gases leads to warmer temperatures and contributes to climate change issues like rising sea levels, extreme weather, heat-related deaths, and increasing transmission of infectious diseases. Climate change will make it harder in the future to meet pollution standards, which are designed to protect health.”
Energy sector: Big source of emission
India is the world’s fifth largest electricity generator with total installed capacity of 302.09 GW. Coal remains the mainstay of the power generation system in India. As a result, energy sector is the single largest source of air pollution in India. Moreover, as power plants are often located near cities, towns and villages, the potential impact on health is significant as around a quarter of the population lives in close proximity to a coal plant. Activities related to production of coal such as drilling, blasting, extraction, transportation, and crushing results in rise of dust particles in air causing pollution.
In order to mitigate the problem of air pollution, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) in December 2015 notified new environmental norms for thermal power plants (TPPs) for suspended particulate matter (SPM), SO2, NOx and Hg. The EPAR also put new limits on SO2 and NOX emissions from coal-fired power plants, which are comparable in to those in place in the Europe Union and the US.
“About 60 per cent of India’s installed power capacity is coal-based. This is set to increase to 70 per cent in 2026, according to BMI Research. And now, for the first time, all of this capacity - new and existing assets – has to meet emissions standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and mercury. In addition, there are significantly tighter standards for pollutants such as particulate emissions. The cost of compliance, according to the Association of Power Producers, could be as much as Rs 2.5 trillion,” observes Sachin Deole, Director - Business Development, Power, India, Black & Veatch (BV), the US-based company that offers air quality control (AQC) services. In India, BV’s current AQC roles include feasibility study, owners engineering and other consulting services for utilities and IPPs - on plants from 210 MW to 660 MW.
The new emission norms are likely to propel the demand for air pollution control technology in this sector. But high upfront cost seems to be a big hurdle. “These emission norms were long awaited and will definitely open up the market for DeSOx and DeNOX systems in the medium to long term. However, implementation will be quite a complex and difficult task since the required invesment is huge. Professionally run power producers such as NTPC will not face any problem. But many independent power producers, state electricity boards and captive power plant owners will find it difficult to raise finance to meet the investment,” informs G Chandrasekhar, VP (Marketing & Operations), Ducon Technologies India Pvt Ltd - an EPC & LSTK organisation that offers air pollution control system packages and material handling system packages for core industries like power, steel, cement, glass, aluminium, copper, oil & petrochemical, pulp & paper, etc. The company caters to DeSOx and DeNOx for large, medium and small power boilers and process furnaces, besides bag filters and high efficiency cyclones.
Flue-gas desulfurisation (FGD) is a set of technologies used to remove sulfur dioxide from exhaust flue gases of fossil-fuel power plants, and from the emissions of other sulfur oxide emitting processes. The demand for FGD, which involves a wide variety of systems, is expected to witness rapid rise, provided the government stringently implements emission norms. “Apart from the stringent emission norm from Government, I do not see any other aspect driving this market. In fact, many of the power generating stations have not kick started the process even after government notification,” says Chandrasekhar of Ducon, which incidentally is the only global brand having its own operating FGD systems in India. There are 14 such systems in the country spread over power, copper, glass etc.
Promulgation of new emission norms have attracted lot of overseas companies in this field to India, wanting to set up their own base or in association with local companies in the hope that the market would mature soon. “In a similar manner, many Indian engineering companies have been scouting for technology partners around the globe. Being a technological package, the cost of association as well as cost of bidding is becoming high. In terms of client's expectations, we feel the compliance cost is little mind boggling to them,” says Chandrasekhar.
Get it right, the firs time
India currently has only limited operating FGD installations and the country is at a nascent stage for successful implementation and commissioning of AQC equipment. “To ensure compliance with new emissions norms, all coal power plant producers quickly need to understand the most techno-economic feasible technology for the project specific site conditions and availability of raw materials during plant operations. In a sign of the task's complexity, the Department of Science and Technology recently called for proposals for clean coal research and development. The project, however, will not report for three years,” informs Deole of Black & Veatch.
Ensuring the technology is right for a client's specific needs is central to long-term success of all AQC projects. According to Deole, there are five things to consider when planning a solution:
>> Choose a technology agnostic advisor rather than OEM. This gives the freedom to procure the technology or technologies best suited to your specific project.
>> Select a partner with experience in the entire lifecycle of coal and AQC assets. Applying this level of combined knowledge to an AQC project is the surest way of identifying where all of the pitfalls and opportunities lie.
>> Be sure your partner has worked with the full range of AQC systems. There are, for instance, many technologies to manage NOx emissions. The best partner will be familiar with the benefits and disadvantages of them all.
>> Appoint an advisor with demonstrable new-build and retrofit experience. The demands of new-build and retrofit AQC projects differ fundamentally, on space constraints for example. Experience in one is no guarantee of success in the other.
>> Insist on a partner capable of advising on buildability, performance and OPEX. The measures of a successful AQC project go beyond compliance. The most successful projects are those which can be built efficiently - without disruption to plant operation for instance - and deliver low, predictable OPEX.
The compulsion to balance economic growth with emission reduction effort will see huge investment in air pollution control equipment. According to InfraInsights report, multi-billion dollar opportunity is emerging in advanced air pollution control technology (FGD, ESP),
stack air quality monitoring equipment, clean coal technologies and mercury control.
Deole says, “At Black & Veatch, our objective is to contribute meaningfully to the process of successful implementation of the new and retrofit AQC installation projects for our clients. Ensuring the technology is right for the project specific needs is essential for long-term success of all AQC projects. Black & Veatch is already supporting Indian utilities (Genco/IPPs) on various coal plants (varying from 40 MW to 660 MW range) for deciding right technology of AQC design and owner’s engineer services. We will draw upon our extensive global experience to identify and deliver the solutions best suited to the needs of Indian clients.”
Tighter implementation of stringent ecological regulations is expected to drive demand and boost revenue growth of companies providing air pollution control solutions. Companies can also explore new opportunities by offering technologies in other pollution control systems like de-nitrification, better rapping systems and retrofitting of existing equipment.
Speaking about Ducon growth plans, Chandrasekhar says, “We have completed 12 eventful years in India and have established a few milestones in air pollution control packages. Have all FGD technologies under one roof with a full fledged EPC organisation for FGD systems from concept to commissioning. Besides this, we are exploring opportunities in related business areas like - feasibility study, upgradations, revamps, erection and commissioning services for other brands of imported FGD systems, residual life improvement etc. Just awaiting the market to mature.”
As per latest Government data, the total power generation in India till April 2015 stood at 272,687 MW, out of which 165,236 MW came from coal-based thermal power plants. Under the new emission norms, the existing power plants would have to improve their pollution control technologies and all the new plants installed after January 2017 would have to meet the global standards. This will create a burgeoning demand for new environmental control systems for power plants. The companies providing apt technologies at right price will be in position to maximise their businesses from the emerging scenario.
Five major sources of air pollution
According to TechSci Research, major sources leading to high levels of air pollution in India are:
>> Burning of Fossil Fuels: Sulphur dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and other factory combustibles
>> Agricultural Activities: Ammonia released from agriculture related activities acts as a pollutant to the atmosphere.
>> Exhaust from Factories and Industries: Manufacturing industries releasing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, organic compounds, and chemicals into the air thereby depleting the quality of air.
>> Mining Operations: Dust and chemicals are released in the air causing air pollution.
>> Indoor Air Pollution: Household cleaning products, painting supplies emit toxic chemicals in the air and cause air pollution.
"These emission norms were long awaited and will definitely open up the market for DeSOx and DeNOX systems in the medium to long term. However, implementation will be quite a complex and difficult task since the required invesment is huge."
G Chandrasekhar, VP (Marketing & Operations), Ducon Technologies India Pvt Ltd
To ensure compliance with new emissions norms, all coal power plant producers quickly need to understand the most techno-economic feasible technology for the project specific site conditions and availability of raw materials during plant operations.
Sachin Deole, Director - Business Development, Power, India, Black & Veatch
The selection of the appropriate control technology - such as bag filter, cyclone, electrostatic precipitator, FGD and scrubber - is determined by the pollutant and process adopted – for example collection, conversion to less harmful forms, or destruction.
Dr Shrikar Dole, Founder & CEO, SDG Foundation