Big gains in the wind energy industry will lead to gains in the carbon fiber industry. A new report from GBI Research shows that, globally, demand for carbon fiber, a technology making gains as a lighter, stronger alternative to current wind blade materials will nearly triple in the next few years:
[Global] carbon fiber demand will hit 153,700 tons in 2020, climbing from 52,500 tons in 2012 – a massive increase of 193% in just eight years.
Wind energy – a vital segment of the rapidly expanding renewable energy market – will be the key driver of the carbon fiber industry, says GBI Research. Currently, wind turbine blades constructed from Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) dominate the industry landscape, but due to their greater rigidity, lower weight and reduced cost, producers are making the move to carbon fiber alternatives.
Considering this shift in manufacturing materials, combined with the increasing deployment of wind farms across the world, GBI Research forecasts carbon fiber demand for the wind energy industry to jump from 12,270 tons in 2011 to 67,400 tons in 2020, making it the single largest carbon fiber end user segment by some margin.
Aircraft manufacturers are also expected to help drive the uptick in carbon fiber demand, with the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner a couple of the biggest users.
Read the report here.