As the figure “Impact of PTC in the US Wind Industry” shows, when PTC benefits are extended, wind installations rise. Conversely, the removal or expiration of PTC policies have resulted in a decline in new capacity installations.
Although composite materials have successfully penetrated various market segments, continuous innovations are required to address arising needs. Industry leaders are developing new resins, fibers, compounds, nano-materials, bioplastics and so on. Technology suppliers also are developing new technologies for rapid production, low energy consumption and low wastage of raw materials.
Lightweighting and cost reduction are two trends that permeate the industry. Innovation mega trends also are affecting individual sectors of the composites industry, including fibers, resins, composites technology and end-use applications:
Fiber Innovations: Significant innovation is expected in future development of low-cost carbon fibers for automotive, wind energy and industrial applications. Low-cost alternative precursors such as textile polyacrylonitrile (PAN), lignin and polyolefin also are being considered. In addition, there is a focus on reducing energy cost.
Within the GFRP market, suppliers are developing high-performance glass fibers to meet higher mechanical and chemical requirements. Finally, a growing focus on green materials provides momentum to the development of high-strength natural fibers that could ultimately increase penetration in automotive, construction and other industries.