IAL Consultants has published the twelfth edition of its study on the market for thermal insulation in Europe. This study updates the previous report published in 2017 and contains market data for all the main thermal insulation products, by material type and end-use application, for the base year of 2018. Data is presented in both volume (cubic metres and tonnes) and value (Euro), with five-year forecasts to 2023. The materials covered include: glass wool, stone wool, white EPS, grey EPS, XPS, PU, PIR, phenolics, ENR, PE, renewable insulation materials, and vacuum insulation panels/aerogel. The analysis covers 26 countries (including all major European thermal insulation markets) split into 14 country volumes, covering the insulation materials mentioned above. In addition, separate material volumes are provided for the four key insulation materials: mineral fibre, EPS (white and grey), XPS and PU/PIR.
Market summary and key findings
The total market for thermal insulation products in Europe stood at 270 million m3 in 2018 (10.2 million t). This equates to an approximate market value of EUR 15.1 billion. The CAGR is forecast at 2.2 % from 2018 to 2023. The 2019 market is estimated at 274.5 million m3, a 1.6 % rise over 2018. Western Europe accounted for 58 % of the European thermal insulation consumption, and the market is forecast to show growth at CAGR 2.4 % to 2023. In recent years, strong growth has been evident in Ireland, and Spain and Portugal also performed well. The Central and Eastern European market’s growth has decreased since IAL’s last report, with a CAGR of 1.9 % forecast to 2023. This could be attributed to the instability in Turkey, which has been the driving country for thermal insulation growth in the region until recently. On the other hand, the Hungarian market is performing well at present, along with Croatia and the Baltics. The building segment possesses a much higher share than industry in European thermal insulation, with the overall use in industrial applications remaining considerably smaller, at 12 % of the market. Domestic buildings – wall is the largest end-use segment in building applications and pipe lagging is the biggest in industrial applications.
Glass wool and stone wool are the most prominent materials in Europe and, combined, they represent 56 % of the thermal insulation market. They have gained market share in recent times due to the emphasis on using non-combustible insulation materials, which was further exacerbated by the Grenfell Tower incident. Furthermore, mineral wool manufacturers continue to push their enhanced fire protection characteristics in comparison to foam plastic insulation materials, such as EPS. EPS remains a very popular material, especially in external wall insulation in much of the region, with around 25 % of the whole market. However, EPS consumption in many Western European countries is suffering because of its poor fire resistance properties. This is not the case in most Eastern European countries, where the price sensitivity of the market favours EPS and other, cheaper materials. XPS growth has remained stable in Europe and the material is used for its low permeability and high compression strength. Due to its high cost, it is mostly used for applications that require its specific properties, such as refrigerated transport, perimeter insulation and cold stores.
PU and PIR foams are not as widely used as some other materials due to their relatively high cost. However, the excellent low thermal conductivity and wide operating temperature mean that they are very versatile materials. The PU/PIR industry has faced a few challenging years due to raw material shortages and resulting price increases, as well as changes in blowing agent regulations. However, these materials are some of the fastest growing in the thermal insulation market. Phenolic foams remain a niche market in thermal insulation, finding most of their use in industrial applications, such as pipe lagging. Flexible insulation is primarily used for pipe insulation, with ENR being preferred for cold pipes, HVAC and process plant applications, and PE being used in domestic lagging. ENR is a smaller market but is showing faster growth than PE due to its superior fire resistance properties.
Renewable insulations materials are a natural alternative to synthetics and have become more prominent in recent years, owing to the global emphasis on environmentally friendly products. There are many types of renewable thermal insulation, with cellulose being the most popular because of its ease of application and ability to be used in retrofitting. VIPs use the insulation of a vacuum within a gas-tight film to give outstanding thermal performance. They are mostly used in specific applications where space is an issue, due to their lower thickness when compared to other panels. Aerogels are synthetic, ultra-light materials derived from a gel (usually silica) and are mostly used for niche applications that require high thermal performance, such as pipe insulation for cryogenics in the liquefied natural gas industry.
The report The European Market for Thermal Insulation Products is now available from IAL Consultants. Prices start at EUR 1,200 for single country volumes and EUR 2,500 for market volumes. The complete report is priced at EUR 9,500 + EUR 1,500 for database access.