The U.S. and China consumed similar amounts of composite materials in 2011, but per capita consumption of composites is much higher in the U.S. This indicates huge growth potential in BRIC and additional nations as the economy grows.
Demand for composite materials in the U.S. industry is forecast to reach $10.4 billion by 2018, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.2 percent. Strong recovery in the transportation, aerospace and construction sectors is expected to drive this trend through 2018 and beyond.
Wind Energy: No Life without the PTC
With enhanced focus on green and renewable energy generation and growing energy requirements globally, the wind energy industry has developed steadily over the last 20 years. Companies are now competing aggressively in energy markets across the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., total composites usage in wind energy grew at an estimated rate of 25 percent in 2012. Composites consumption in the wind energy industry has increased approximately 10-fold since 1998, and composites consumption in the U.S. wind energy market in 2007 was only half of the consumption registered in 2012. Thus, it is the fastest-growing segment in the composites industry. Composites are the materials of choice for making rotor blades for wind turbines and nacelle covers.
Approximately 8,430 MW of new wind capacity is anticipated to be installed by the end of 2012, a 25 percent increase over 2011 but still short of the record 9,922 MW installed in 2009. Even though new installations fell sharply in 2010, the industry enjoyed strong federal and state incentives to invest in new wind facilities, which kept the playing field attractive through 2012 when the current production tax credit (PTC) is due to expire.
The PTC provides a 30 percent investment credit to manufacturers that invest in capital equipment to make components for clean energy projects in the U.S. The Obama Administration extended PTCs to support clean energy generation in 2012 and believes PTC to be a critical piece in revitalizing the country’s economy and energy resources. The federal government’s energy policy is not clear going forward, which could lead to a decline of at least two-thirds of private investments in the wind market. Companies, therefore, have been trying to install as many wind turbines as possible to take advantage of the PTC before it was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.