Impact of USA Flue Gas Desulfurization Programs on North American Gypsum Supply and Demand (2003, 2010, 2015)

Bob Bruce PhD

Introduced November 2004

The production of FGD gypsum is a byproduct of the generation of electricity and as a byproduct is not subject to the normal supply/demand market forces that would tend to influence pricing and production volumes. The FGD gypsum will be made whether it is used or not. The gypsum industry has refitted many of their manufacturing facilities to allow the replacement of gypsum rock with this coal combustion product (CCP) such that several million tons are being used. The overall scrubber capacity is also climbing such that more and more FGD gypsum is being made. The cost of disposal of this FGD gypsum is also climbing rapidly, largely due to the impact of more stringent landfill management requirements set by the regulators.

With supply, demand and costs all changing it is difficult to determine what decisions should be made by each of the major stakeholders. Gypsum consumers need to decide which facilities should be closed, upgraded or replaced; decisions that rest heavily on accessibility and price of the gypsum available. The power companies also must decide the lowest cost route to compliance with air quality requirements, with the production, sale and/or landfill being significant factors in capacity planning, load switching and human resources management. The regulators are expected to balance the environmental benefits of both air quality and solid waste regulations with the overall economic impact on the industries affected. With scrubber technology evolving, and the FGD gypsum supply/demand balance changing rapidly, it is difficult to determine how much the regulations should impact these businesses.

The volumes and costs are significant to both industries. Choices made regarding FGD gypsum have immediate impact on availability and pricing of electricity and gypsum board; but can also have a longer term impact on electricity pricing, building products pricing, conservation of natural resources, USA reliance on coal, implementation of Clean Coal Technologies and USA trade balance, to name a few. It would be useful for the three main stakeholders to come to some agreement regarding how much FGD gypsum is likely to be made/used/landfilled such that each could then make their own decisions based on the same overall expectations. This report was prepared in an effort to contribute to this shared understanding.

Table of Contents, List of Figures and Tables (.pdf format)

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Power plant emissions fgd gypsum

Power plant emissions

Dried FGD gypsum
Dried FGD gypsum

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