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World demand for flat glass is forecast to rise 7.1% per year through 2016 to 9.2 billion m2, according to “World Flat Glass,” a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc. In a continuation of the trend seen overall the last couple of decades, demand will easily outpace real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) gains in the global economy. Gains in the dominant building construction market are expected to be driven by a significant acceleration in building construction activity. The global market value of fabricated flat glass is forecast to reach $90 billion in 2016.
The Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 60% of global flat glass demand (on a m2 basis) in 2011, will continue to post the fastest gains through 2016. Gains in China, the region’s dominant national market, will slow in comparison to the pace of the 2006-2011 period, but remain well above the world average. Demand in Japan will improve significantly, based on recovering domestic building construction and motor vehicle markets.
The U.S. market for flat glass is predicted to recover strongly based on a healthy rebound in the country’s building construction sector. Despite positive economic growth in 2010 and 2011 after a major recession, U.S. building construction declined further during that period. However, some recovery occurred in 2012, and it appears that the worst is over. Demand for flat glass in Western Europe will experience modest gains. A slow-growing population combined with a stagnant motor vehicle industry will limit growth. A number of float glass plants in the region closed in 2012, suggesting that major glassmakers are shifting focus elsewhere.
Fabricated flat glass demand will reportedly benefit from rapid growth in sales of energy-efficient products such as solar control, insulation and low-E glass. The solar energy market, which was hurt by recent global economic weaknesses, will take off briskly once again. It should be noted, however, that demand for flat glass used in solar energy applications totaled just around 120 million m2 in 2011, so this is a niche market.
For more information, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.