Materials Needs For Growing Energy Markets

In the United States, we often lose sight of how privileged we are to have access to electricity in even our most remote areas. While there may not be lines to your front door in some places, there are ways to get them run there.

Other countries aren’t nearly that fully electrified, and it may surprise you to find out who some of the are. We hear a lot in the news about the economic engine of China and how it’s such a growth market, yet it still has large areas with no availability for electricity. The same is true of India.

The two nations are home to billions of people, and while the statistics on how many lack electricity are incomplete, it’s easily well tens of millions. Both of those governments are making it a high priority to provide electricity to rural areas, and getting those communities connected to the power grid will make them more able to work and buy, powering the financial growth of the entire countries.

And while this development is clearly a growth engine for the countries where it’s taking place, it also has implications for industry in other parts of the world. Power generation and transmission require massive amounts of materials, many of which cannot be entirely produced in the areas where they’ll be used. In order to meet those demands, then, these developing nations will likely look at first-world suppliers.

A.J. Weller is one firm that can provide the specialized steel required for these rapid and massive build-ups. Their wear plate technology will ensure that the heaviest-used areas of generation and transmission equipment will be as durable as possible, with a much longer life than local steel that is less expensive but also far less durable.

Of course, it isn’t just steel in the equation. The massive towers for transmission lines, the hardest-working areas of generators, and much of the heavy equipment used for construction will require quality steel, but that is not the end of it. Strung from tower to tower will be hundreds of miles of copper line, all of which must be high-quality for maximum conductivity.

Once power arrives at distribution points, the use of copper will continue. Indeed, it will be present in ever-smaller diameters but ever-longer lengths right up to the appliances plugged in by the end user, and even in the appliances themselves.

Still other materials will be utilized in this ongoing process. The cable hangs from the towers, but the towers stand on concrete. With such expensive, important, and dangerous equipment involved, the towers must be absolutely secure in their construction. There is no margin for error.

Quality concrete, likely to include a lot of imported material, will be essential to keeping towers stable. Countless yards will also be utilized in the generation and distribution facilities along the way, with particular demand associated with any hydroelectric facilities or nuclear sources that are developed.

The focus of news reports is often on the trade deficit that the United States maintains with China and India. It is true that more consumer goods built there are sold here than vice versa, and that does have a problematic economic effect in America.

But when it comes to specialized materials for massive projects like the expansion of rural electricity availability in China, India, and other developing economies, there remains no substitute for American products, whether it’s steel, copper, or concrete. The push by those governments to power up the countryside holds real promise for American materials providers, and it could help them lead the way in an improved trade balance.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.