Tighter environmental regulations and water scarcity are pushing power plant operators to rethink how they use this resource, as water and power generation are inseparable.

Fossil fuel-fired power stations require a reliable, consistent stream of treated water to operate effectively while wastewater streams generated from the combustion of coal need adequate treatment before being discharged.

In terms of service provision, power plant owners will increasingly outsource water treatment operations so that they can focus on their core business of generating electricity, a study from GWI ‘Water for Power’ predicts.

Thus service companies can provide added value to the power industry by tailoring their expertise to chemicals, mobile water treatment solutions, and the operation of on-site water treatment systems.

The market for the speciality chemical supply contracts that include these services will be worth an estimated $1.3bn in 2013, the study says.

Overall, the supply of wastewater treatment equipment will be the most rapidly growing area of this market, with a projected 10.2% compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2018.

This market is expected to be worth $608m in 2013 with the most well developed regions in Europe and the US, where stricter environmental regulations are limiting the concentrations of pollutants that can be discharged in wastewater streams.

Power plants in water-scarce regions of India and China, meanwhile, will invest in wastewater treatment as a means of reusing effluent streams, chiefly for cooling system makeup water.

Most of the investment in wastewater treatment will go towards conventional treatment solutions, where capital expenditure is expected to be $536m in 2013.

Innovation is the best way to gain a share of this market as plant operators are particularly interested in chemical and biological processes to remove heavy metals, particularly selenium and mercury.

Water and wastewater treatment in the power industry is already big business, worth $2.1bn in 2013. The largest capital expenditure outlay is accounted for by pre-treatment systems (34%), followed by conventional wastewater treatment (26%) and condensate polishing systems (24%).

Capital expenditure is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 7.2% between now and 2018, driven by new additions to power generation capacity – largely in emerging markets – and the replacement of systems at existing generation facilities in mature markets. The total value of this market is expected to reach $2.9bn in 2018.

Maxine Perella

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