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May 4, 2009: ABMA Issues Statement on Potential Re-Opening of Boiler Efficiency Standards

May 4, 2009
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VIENNA, Va. - To address the potential re-opening of boiler efficiency standards development by the Obama administration, W. Randall Rawson, president/CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association (ABMA), has issued a statement calling for “meaningful economic incentives” to help the transition from old to new technology.

Rawson said, “Increased efficiency is not a subject or an objective from which ABMA members shy away in the least. Important fact: right now, if most commercial, institutional, and industrial boiler systems were replaced with existing state-of-the-art boiler and combustion technology, efficiency - economy-wide - would be ramped up by double digits. That’s just from replacement of old technology with current technology. We call on President Obama to provide some meaningful economic incentives to help this transition from the old to the new take place across commercial, institutional, and industrial segments - practical incentives that recognize existing economic conditions, as well as need.

“Commercial, institutional, and industrial boiler systems now routinely operate in an efficiency range from 80 percent to well-in-excess of 90 percent efficiency (condensing boilers), and ABMA members are all capable of meeting high-efficiency goals through responsive and innovative design. ABMA members are also involved in ongoing, public and private R&D efforts exceeding millions of dollars in investment value to find the most efficient and lowest-emission boiler technology possible over and above that available today.

“ABMA represents combustion equipment designers and fabricators in the >400,000 Btuh range - commercial, institutional, industrial and power-generating systems. Boiler-generated steam and hot water remains the most efficient method of heat transfer for many if not most steam and comfort-heating applications. It is also highly fuel-flexible in that it can burn a full range of alternative and renewable fuels to generate steam - biogas, biomass, animal wastes, municipal solid waste, methane, and many others.

“ABMA and members of ABMA have worked closely with the United States Department of Energy in the past, and we will continue to work with the Department in the future to forge and deploy realistic, meaningful, technologically-feasible efficiency targets. In doing so, we will encourage the Department to take into consideration the different applications, differing fuels, differing operational environments, and all the other variables that are a part of any major boiler-generated steam and hot water system today. The equipment sizes with which we work are not toasters that operate in a consistent and predicable manner and that are fabricated in an off-the-shelf manner. Not all boilers are created equal. Some basic design differences can reveal variations in expected efficiency performance levels. The efficiency of any boiler relies heavily on the job it is intended to do (customer expectations), on the environment in which it is called on to operate, the ongoing attention given to its operation by the owner/operator, and on a vigorous program of maintenance - operation and maintenance parameters all in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations. Efficiency is only useful if it is repeatable and sustainable over the life of the equipment and, although it may meet efficiency standards when it leaves the manufacturer, the owner/operator’s use and treatment of the equipment can decide whether that efficiency is ongoing or only temporary.

“At present, it isn’t possible to provide comments on standards that don’t yet exist. Assuming that any future DOE standards are technically feasible - and ABMA will be working with DOE to help assure such a result - and are commercially marketable, my membership should have no problem producing the requisite equipment. This is also a particularly advantageous time for boiler and combustion equipment replacement inasmuch as raw materials costs are down and factory backlogs at present are not exerting negative pressures on lead times.

“Again, the packaged boiler, either in firetube or in its various watertube forms, has proven to be highly efficient, fuel-flexible, and cost effective in generating energy for many if not most process and heating applications. As the industry continues to ratchet-up design efficiency on its own and in response to government regulation, we expect boiler-generated steam and hot water to continue to be the technology of choice for our customers.”

Publication date: 05/04/2009

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