Demand for fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composites in the manufacture of wind turbine components is forecast to expand 5.9 percent per year through 2020 to 152 million pounds. This will be a moderation from the explosive growth registered between 2005 and 2015, as the country’s installed base of wind energy capacity grows more slowly. Wind energy will continue to account for an increasingly large share of electricity generation as public utilities seek to meet state-mandated renewable energy standards. Additionally, a more stable tax credit regime will help bring multiyear reliability to a market perpetually faced with unpredictable levels of funding. These and other trends are presented in Fiber-Reinforced Plastic Composites Market in the US, 13th Edition, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.
Fiber-reinforced plastic composites demand in the wind energy market rose tremendously during the last decade, from just 25 million pounds in 2005 to 114 million pounds in 2015. However, this belies the tumultuous nature of the market during this decade, as wind energy installations waxed and waned from year to year depending mostly on the level of federal subsidies available. Because subsidy funds were not always renewed before the expiration of the previous subsidy, there were often large gaps in funding. As a result, wind energy installations rose sixfold in 2005, more than doubled in 2007, decreased by over 40 percent in 2010, and declined by over 90 percent in 2013, before bouncing back fourfold in 2014 and nearly doubling in 2015.
The extension of the federal Production Tax Credit at the end of 2015 is seen as a major industry event that will reduce demand volatility through 2020. State renewable energy standards — some of which are met through wind capacity — should also provide some degree of insulation to the market, though wind installation capacity growth rates have outpaced program requirements in recent years.
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