The US is not building new coal-fired power plants and will be shutting down nearly 70 000 MW of existing capacity, while there is uncertainty regarding the remaining 190 000 MW depending on clean power regulations, says McIlvaine Company. The result of this shrinkage is a large excess of coal-fired boiler talent in the USA. Two options for beneficial use are to channel this talent into: other types of power generation activities; coal-fired boiler power generation overseas. Easier said than done, says McIlvaine. This talent needs to gain new knowledge and to be integrated into to new organisational structures. McIlvaine believes that the best way to gain this knowledge and to create a structure is through what it calls “Wise Crowd” decisions.

McIlvaine has created a system to cover all power generation knowledge within Berkshire Hathaway (BH). Its goal is to create similar systems for other large power plant operators. As an example McIlvaine points out that new NOx regulations in India will place many plants in the same position as PacifiCorp, which is currently carrying out test programmes on combustion modifications and use of neural networks and is “likely to become the world leader in achieving NOx reduction without full SCR,” McIlvaine believes. This expertise is exportable, says McIlvaine.