How has the demand for clean electricity generation influenced utility boilers market trends?

Electricity has become indispensable in the era of technology, which is characterized by high reliance on electrical appliances. Demand for electricity has been constantly increasing with surging  requirement  across developing economies. Industrial virility in such regions has resulted in increased electricity demand, majorly from industries, such as chemical, pulp & paper, cement, refining, food & beverage, textile etc. Flexibility and reliability offered by utility boilers make them apt for utilization in industries. They are typically used for steam generation. The boiler takes in energy in the form of fuel such as nuclear fuel, coal or natural gas to heat water into steam.

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A utility boiler generates steam for the sole purpose of powering turbines to generate electricity.  A base-loaded unit of a utility boiler operates at a steady rate close to maximum capacity because of a constant demand for steam.

Rising environmental concern about fossil fuel-based electricity generation will further favor adoption of cleaner electricity generation sources such as utility boilers. With supportive policy interventions across major economies across the world, the energy sector is likely to witness a transformational phase and will create an enormous scope for adoption of utility boilers.

Utility boilers are more controlled than industrial boilers, as they can distribute their load over the complete electric production as well as on the distribution grid. As a result, utility boilers tend to have lower operating costs and are more efficient for constant production of electricity. Increasing investment by industries towards expansion of electricity generation capacity will positively impact utility boiler market growth in the coming years.

The design of a boiler is main the deciding factor for the efficiency of the power plants. Three centuries of constant revamping has resulted in the development of steam-producing boilers of the present times, which produce thousands of tons of steam per hour. They have a fuel-to-steam efficiency of more than 90%. The advanced utility boilers offer benefits, such as lower costs, lower fuel requirement, as well as lower emission of pollutants in the atmosphere.

Advanced utility boiler range are bifurcated into supercritical and ultra-supercritical boilers, which are designed to offer high flexibility and reliability to meet the most demanding steam generation needs.

Steam turbine offers excellent improvement at supercritical pressures as compared to the typical subcritical cycle. The Ultra-supercritical steam conditions also provide greater efficiency improvements. Supercritical utility boilers are being progressively adopted since they are aligned with the benefits of cost reductions in handling, fuel usage, ash disposal, and flue gas treatment, which is facilitated by the utilization of supercritical throttle pressures with an increase in throttle temperatures in combination.

Supercritical & ultra-supercritical boilers take full advantage of variable pressure turbine operation. The load change rate capability of these systems is not restricted by the turbine. For any given output, they offer lower fuel consumption, and hence, lower carbon emissions. Over a wide load range, steam temperature at the inlet and outlet of the reheater remains nearly constant. They offer short startup times and higher plant efficiency over the entire load range.

Industry players in  utility boiler industry are making the most advanced steam cycle systems commercially available. For instance, Babcock & Wilcox Company, a global leader in advanced energy & environmental technologies and services for renewable, power and industrial markets provides more than 300,000 megawatts of generating capacity in approximately 60 countries.

Rising investments for optimizing utility boiler to get the best possible heat transfer from the fuel to water may offer lucrative scope for industry growth. The upcoming design consideration is for minimizing undesirable by-products in the form of ash and flue gas. This innovation is in line with government initiatives for the adoption of cleaner electricity generation sources.

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