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Firm sees muted gas hike from nuclear woes

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Mar. 18
-- Global lifts to power-generation investment over 2011-15 resulting from the nuclear crisis in Japan will amount to about $100 billion each for coal-fired boilers and gas turbines, says McIlvaine Co., Northfield, Ill.

The engineering-based consultancy expects post-disaster spending during the period to total $1.015 trillion for new coal-fired power plants and $307 billion for gas turbines.

“Despite the recent advances in extracting gas from unconventional sources such as shale, there will not be a massive shift to gas-fired power,” the firm says. “Gas can be converted into liquid products. Any big disparity between the price of oil and gas will eventually be eliminated by building gas-to-liquid plants. Since the price of oil is predicted to increase, gas will follow suit and be too expensive to be the main power-plant fuel.”

McIlvaine cut its 2011-15 capital-spending forecast for new nuclear plants to $100 billion from $360 billion. It raised its forecasts for wind power to $327 billion from $287 billion and for solar power to $154 billion from $134 billion because of the Japanese disaster.

“Longer term, the biggest shift will be from nuclear to coal,” McIlvaine says. “China is both a major coal producer and the largest potential investor in nuclear power plants. It has been quite successful in building efficient new coal-fired power plants.”

The firm said India also will feel pressure to increase its emphasis on coal.

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