World demand for flat glass is forecast to rise 7.1% per year until 2016 to 9.2 billion m2.

Demand will easily outpace real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) gains in the global economy in a continuation of the trend seen in the last few decades.

Gains in the dominant building construction market will be driven by acceleration in building construction activity. The global market value of fabricated flat glass is forecast to reach $90 billion in 2016.

These and other trends are presented in World Flat Glass, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc, a Cleveland, USA-based industry market research firm.

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 until 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, based on recovering domestic building construction and motor vehicle markets.

The US market for flat glass will 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, US building construction witnessed further declines in both those years.

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 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 that demand for flat glass used in solar energy applications totalled just around 120 million m2 in 2011, so this is a niche market.

World Flat Glass is available for $6400 from The Freedonia Group, Inc, e-mail or website