Smart Windows to Drive Growth for Electrochromic Glass Market
The market for electrochromic (EC) glass and film systems will approach $3.0 billion in revenue by 2020, and keep growing to nearly $4.2 billion by 2023, according to a recent report from n-tech Research. Much of the revenue generation will come from the mature sector of self-dimming auto mirrors, but the real growth opportunities will be in smart windows for buildings and vehicles, as well as potentially new applications such as lenses for mobile devices.
The smart windows sector is relatively small today, but it will see substantial growth over the next several years. Smart windows in buildings reportedly will surge from $40 million to nearly $500 million by 2019. Automotive smart windows will come along more slowly, but this sector will approach $500 million by the end of the eight-year forecast period. More novel applications are still being evaluated, such as for camera assemblies in mobile devices, where potential addressable markets could be massive with billions of annual shipments.
Customers evaluating smart windows reportedly have become more receptive over the past year or two to understanding a broader cost-comparison of not just glass but at avoided up-front costs, such as shading systems, interior lighting, and downsized HVAC investments. Compared on that level, EC firms say they are now matching or even winning the business case.
EC glass customers, especially for owner-occupied buildings, reportedly are seeing a link between daylighting, more comfortable interior working spaces, and occupant productivity. Overstock.com, which will have 40,000 ft2 of EC glass in its new headquarters in Salt Lake City, calculates every 1% more productivity for its $100 million payroll is worth $1 million.
However, costs are still far higher for EC glass than competitors (twice that of low-end static glass). Nevertheless, there are incremental improvements here as companies get more comfortable with and keep scaling up their production efforts. At the same time, newer manufacturing and technology approaches will be needed for major cost improvements, such as wet processing and printing, and more use of EC on plastic films.
Projects in the pipeline are growing in number, as well as in size and scope. Many are now in the tens of thousands of ft2, instead of measured mostly in hundreds or a thousand ft2. This not only speaks to market success, but it helps de-risk the technology and provide reference points for many new customers evaluating dynamic glass.
On the technology front, there are no updates to change previous ideas about where products stand relative to each other seeking market inroads. Reportedly, there is still strong support for existing processes (sputtering and deposition) and commitment to achieving incremental improvements in productivity and cost. Nevertheless, major improvements in both areas eventually will usher in newer and simpler lower-cost options such as plastic or film substrates, and wet coating, and even printing technologies.
For more information, visit www.ntechresearch.com.