Population increase expected to fuel cement consumption increases

Population increase expected to fuel cement consumption increases
Published: 23 January 2008

By 2030 the U.S. population is expected to reach 363.5 million persons. Supplying the needed housing, buildings and roads will lead to a 43 per cent growth in US cement consumption by that year.

According to Edward J. Sullivan, PCA chief economist, annual cement consumption will hit 183Mt, reflecting a 55Mt increase compared to the past cyclical peak level in 2005.

"Sixty-three million more people will be living in the United States in 2030 and they will need homes, schools, hospitals, and roads. This construction will boost demand for cement to record levels."

While 50 per cent of the rise in cement consumption is due to population growth, the remaining half will be driven by per capita cement consumption.

One sector that Sullivan predicts will incur large growth is highway construction. Today, this segment accounts for 30 per cent of total annual cement consumption. To meet the demand of the expected additional 49 million drivers, at least 400,000 additional lane miles of highway must be added by 2030. Efforts to reduce congestion and "wasted" fuel and its associated emissions could further increase the number of miles.

Additionally, energy and environmental concerns are predicted to boost cement intensities, the tons of cement per dollar of construction activity. For example, houses built with insulating concrete form walls (ICFs) can require up to 44 percent less energy to heat and 32 percent less energy to cool than comparable frame homes. As more homeowners and builders seek energy efficient houses, the insulated concrete wall market share is expected to increase to 30 percent all new homes, compared to its seven percent share today.

"If these ’green’ conditions materialize residential concrete construction will add roughly 8Mt  to the cement intensities in 2030," Sullivan said.