The future is bright for this market, in part, because the United States will need to invest significantly in the repair and maintenance of its old infrastructure. For example, there are 147,870 deficient bridges requiring repair. According to Federal Highway Administration estimates, the U.S. needs to invest $20.5 billion annually to eliminate deficient bridges, whereas only $12.8 billion is currently being spent by the federal government. A partnering of raw material suppliers and parts fabricators to educate state departments of transportation and other stakeholders would likely create significant demand for composites.
Pipe & Tank
The pipe and tank market promises solid growth opportunities, considering significant demand from various end application industries, such as oil and gas, retail fuel, water/waste water and sewage. Increasing shale gas exploration activities and the expanding offshore oil and gas industry contribute to the rise of composites usage in the pipe and tank market.
The demand for composite materials within this market grew 5.2 percent in 2014. Low-cost natural gas gives pace to the development of new chemical facilities along with the expansion of older ones for chemical processing. That, in turn, creates demand for FRP pipes. Some chemical companies are shifting their production bases to areas where there is a huge reserve of shale gas, which also increases demand for FRP pipes.
The U.S. government and private players are expected to invest more to set up new pipelines to transport crude oil and gas. Plastic and polymer resin manufacturers also are setting up manufacturing plants in new shale gas areas for the development of low-cost feedstock, such as propane and ethane. There are many applications in the oil and gas industry, including grating, risers, tethers, drill pipes, glass-reinforced epoxy pipes and frac balls and plugs.
Wind energy is another segment where composites are a great fit. With ever-increasing blade lengths and boosts in the megawatt capacity of turbines, the use of lightweight materials has subsequently increased. Composite materials offer significant weight reduction and increased blade stiffness, which in turn raises the level of energy output. In addition, the burgeoning offshore wind market compels blade manufacturers to use advanced materials that can reduce system weight without compromising mechanical properties.
The government’s renewable energy incentives, such as Production Tax Credit (PTC) policy, impact the development of wind energy in the United States. The PTC expired in 2013, but U.S. legislation extended the term for availing PTC benefit until 2015. Wind farms will be eligible to derive optimum benefits of the extended PTC on the projects which begun in 2013 and whose construction will take subsequent years to complete.