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Survey forecasts huge growth for thermal insulation

In an age when energy-efficiency and being green has been given a high priority, it may come as little surprise to see survey after survey predicting rapid growth in the insulation sector. 

This has proved true again with a new study by Zion Market Research. It said the current global market for thermal insulation is worth $48.3 billion (£36.8 billion), but this will increase to almost 77.8 billion by 2025. 

According to the survey, the biggest geographical area for growth is the Asia-Pacific region. That may not seem surprising; after all, it is the most populous area of the world as it includes China and India. Moreover, not only do each of those huge nations have over a billion residents, they are also enjoying rapid economic growth, easily outstripping the west, parts of which are still struggling economically. 

With much of this growth producing fast-expanding megacities with serious pollution issues, environmental concerns have risen steadily up the agenda. So too has energy-efficiency, not least as increasing demand will always place growing pressure on supply.

However, that is not the full picture. The survey as a whole does not just include the use of thermal insulation in buildings, noting its increasing prominence in the automotive industry, machinery and the rail sector. Saving energy is, it appears, a universal imperative. 

Just as importantly, where buildings are concerned, it is areas outside the Asia Pacific region where some of the greatest emphasis on insulation use is taking place. Here, it is the actions of governments and housebuilders in tightening building regulations in more temperate climates - so that heating homes becomes cheaper and produces less emissions - that is driving the expansion of the sector.

The report stated: "Environmental regulations that have been laid by several governments for energy conservation in buildings is also providing impetus to the global thermal insulation market. Governments especially in cold countries are actively promoting construction of zero energy loss buildings. 

"This is because lack of reliable insulation material leads to massive volume of heat loss from buildings in these countries that need round-the-clock heating [for the] major part of the year."

Notably, the UK was singled out as one of the countries where the greatest efforts have been made to bolster the use of insulation. The report noted that grants and loans of up to £3,500 have been made available to householders for this purpose.

The issue of incentives is a hot topic at present. Past initiatives like the Green Deal fell flat, which means the government's new Clean Growth Strategy will need to come up with more effective measures. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme before the launch of the white paper, energy minister Claire Perry said a mixture of "carrots and sticks" could encourage more insulation use. This could include variable stamp duty rates based on the energy performance of a home when it is put up for sale. 

For Britain, the key task may be to close the huge gap in energy performance between its newest homes and older properties, by fitting more insulation in the latter. 

This week, the Home Builders Federation released research finding that 84.4 per cent of new build homes in Britain now meet energy performance rating levels A or B, compared to just 2.2 per cent of older properties. 

Not all of this is down to insulation, as there are other energy-efficient devices that contribute to the better performance of modern homes. However, the study noted that contemporary homes with high-quality cavity wall insulation are six times better at retaining heat than those built in the 1960s.


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