Carbon Fiber Market trends over 2022-2028 will be largely driven by the increasing popularity and growing application of the material in automotive, aerospace, wind energy, sports equipment, and other end-use industries. There is robust demand for lightweight and high-performance composite materials with properties such as high strength, excellent stiffness, superior corrosion resistance, and chemical inertness across these sectors.
In automotive and aerospace applications, the need for lightweight, durable, and environmentally friendly materials is increasing. There are strict environmental norms enforced by regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Union (EU) in an effort to cut down carbon emissions. Emissions standards in emerging Asia Pacific countries such as China and India are also improving, indicating a positive growth trend for the carbon fiber market with the need to develop lighter components.
Speaking about the use of carbon fiber in the aerospace sector, in December 2020, Joby Aviation handed Toray Advanced Composites a long-term supply deal from for composite materials to be used for its aircraft. As per the deal, Toray will supply its carbon fiber composite materials to Joby, allowing the company to bring fast, affordable, and zero emission aerial ridesharing to communities globally.
In terms of the regional landscape, the wind energy sector is emerging as a major consumer of carbon fiber in North America due to increasing focus on the deployment of cleaner technologies. High tensile strength and stiffness of the composite material enables wind turbines to withstand extreme weather conditions while its light weight helps enhance the efficiency of these turbines. Growing investments in the onshore and offshore wind sector will strengthen North America carbon fiber market outlook up to 2028.
More and more wind energy projects are emerging in the region as environmental regulations become stricter and the need for green energy grows. For instance, in the U.S., the Biden administration announced final federal approval for a first-of-its-kind 800 MW offshore wind power project in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in May 2021. The nearly US$3 billion project would be capable of powering more than 400,000 homes and is part of the Biden Administration’s plan to boost renewables deployment in the country.
Toray Industries, Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd., Hexcel Corporation (merged with Woodward Inc.), Formosa Plastics Corp, SGL Carbon SE, Toho Tenax (Teijin), and Zoltek are among the major producers of carbon fiber across the world. Carbon fiber manufacturers are expected to witness many opportunities across key application areas, which is why they are adopting strategies such as mergers and acquisitions to expand their market presence. In January 2020, for example, Hexcel Corporation had announced plans to merge with Woodward Inc. to become one of the major independent aerospace & defense contractors in the U.S.
These companies are also investing research and development to develop innovative, more advanced composite materials. Citing an instance, in May 2021, Hexcel announced plans to build a flagship Center of Excellence for Research & Technology (R&T) in Utah to develop advanced composites technologies.
The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent disruptions had created significant uncertainty in the carbon fiber market during 2020 due to weakened demand in aerospace and automotive applications. With the effects of the pandemic, production in numerous industries including aerospace, automotive, and wind energy had declined significantly. Some aircraft manufacturers and automakers announced production cuts due to supply chain and logistics concerns. In April 2020, Airbus and Boeing, for instance, announced their decision to shut down manufacturing facilities temporarily due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
However, the future of carbon fiber industry looks attractive with opportunities in aerospace, automotive, and wind energy sectors as businesses gradually recover from the impacts of the pandemic and there is a consistent investment in sustainable technologies.