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Wind overtakes aerospace as advanced composite user

Wind energy is set to overtake aerospace as the largest user of advanced composite materials, according to Lux Research.

By Kari Williamson

The overall market for advanced composites – based on carbon fibres, carbon nanotubes, and graphene – could more than triple to US$25.8 billion by 2020.

The use of such materials in wind turbines is expected to increase from US$2.5bn in 2011 to US$15.4b in 2020, as growth in aerospace lags, despite the introduction of new aircraft, such as Boeing’s Dreamliner, that use large quantities of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRPs).

In 2020, wind energy could account for nearly 60% of the market for composites, compared with the current 35%, the analyst says.

“Despite serving as a flagship for commercial success of CFRPs, the volumes in aerospace are relatively limited. Boeing currently has the capacity to produce only two Dreamliners per month and is striving to raise this figure to 10 by the end of 2013,” comments Ross Kozarsky, a Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report.

“In wind, 18,405 MW of capacity were added in the first six months of 2011, which translates to over 1000 turbines per month.”

Lux analysts found that the combined market for these materials would rise from US$7bn in 2011 to US$25.8bn in 2020, reflecting an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16%.

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