Improving wind turbine technologies are fuelling the wind energy market and encouraging new installations, according to new research from Frost & Sullivan. As such, the demand for high-performance and lightweight materials will follow suit.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the composite market is expected to reach nearly $3.8 billion by 2021, from $1.94 billion in 2014.
‘While governments worldwide have designed support mechanisms and funding programs to promote renewable energy, such as wind, uncertain aid and financing often delay projects,’ says Ankit Mittal, chemicals, materials and food research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. ‘As a result, demand for blade materials has been cyclic in nature. Additionally, emphasis on the optimum strength-to-weight ratio of blades restricts the use of certain materials, like balsa.’
Nevertheless, volatile oil prices and the rising profile of environmental issues will push forward alternate energy forms – wind being one of the most viable. It has no fuel cost, allows energy independence from traditional fossil fuels, is permanently available almost anywhere in the world and is technologically advanced. Wind energy is also much quicker to install; large onshore and offshore wind farms can be installed within a time frame of two years. Taller, lighter and more reliable turbines significantly extend production capacity.
These factors will see turbine blade manufacturers strengthen their portfolio to provide a consistent supply of high-performance materials in line with market needs. Manufacturers will look to enhance the performance of materials within existing chemistries and commoditize them, rather than develop new chemistries.
‘The winds of change will continue to sweep through the market as manufacturers establish a strong product pipeline aligned with regulatory standards and customer specifications,’ explains Mittal. ‘Offering differentiated products along with customer support mechanisms will ensure steady global expansion.’
The report notes that the trend will also see the composite market race toward consolidation, especially in the core materials sector. Larger entities will acquire regional or segment-specific manufacturers to diversify product portfolios and widen their share in the highly competitive landscape.