studies and reports

Green Market Forecasts

My crystal ball is not working properly so I am going to let these experts from various consulting firms  do the proper forecasting when it comes to biobased chemicals/materials, biofuels as well as cleantech markets.


US-based consulting firm Lux Research noted that bio-based material developers must aim for large, addressable markets such as composites and coatings, industrial manufactured intermediates, and packaging.

Industrial intermediates represent the future for bio-based material developers, the consulting firm said. This area target huge addressable markets such as electronics, building materials, automotive, aerospace, and consumer goods.

Coatings, meanwhile, offer huge opportunities for substitution with bio-based raw materials, and in many cases can also offer significant improvements such as elimination or reduction of volatile organic carbons (VOCs), according to Lux Research. In plastics, bio-based plastics are ideal disposables with volume applications such as medical, flatware, cleaning, bags, liners, bottles, etc.

Transparency Market Research, noted that that biodegradable plastics — both made from petroleum and  plant-based feedstock — is expected to reach $7.8bn worldwide in 2018. This market was estimated to be worth $2.3bn in 2011. Europe reportedly will occupy 36.8% of the global market followed by North America in 2018.

According to Transparency Market Research, demand of bio-based biodegradable plastics has increased over the last decade due to growing demand and development for eco-friendly materials. Bio-based biodegradable plastics market is segmented on the basis of its types as starch based plastics, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). The market for renewable biodegradable plastics was reportedly $1.9bn in 2011 and is expected to reach $7bn in 2018.

The report also includes polycaprolactone (PCL), polybutylene succinate (PBS), and starch-based plastics aside from PLA and PHA.

Frost & Sullivan, meanwhile, estimated a growth of over 19%/year till 2018 for biorenewable materials in Asia-Pacific. The consulting firm estimated that the Asia-Pacific biorenewables market  earned revenues of $46.8m in 2011 and is expected to reach $167m in 2018. The study covers PLA, PHA and starch-based polymers.

Asia-Pacific’s plastic packaging market, which comprises of both rigid and flexible packaging, accounts for over 1.2m tonnes of plastics/year and is expected to grow rapidly — boosting the demand for bioplastics particularly in flexible packaging. PLA is expected to experience the highest growth rate because of substantial capacity additions expected in Asia.

Still, factors such as high prices, low-scale up of manufacturing capacity, inferior performance attributes in certain applications and poor execution of eco-labeling policies as well as insufficient composting facilities in Asia-Pacific countries could restrict potential applications of bioplastics.

“Manufacturers must innovate technology, develop better products, and scale-up capacity to bring per unit costs down. To encourage companies to enter the market, local governments should introduce codification for composting and biodegradability, and implement national standard certifications. This will enable the bioplastics market in Asia-Pacific to attract investments and grow steadily.” – Frost & Sullivan

In the surfactants area, Transparency Market Research noted the global biosurfactants market is expected to reach $2.21bn in 2018, at a growth rate of 3.5%/year from 2011, which had a market worth of $1.74bn. Europe is expected to account for 53% of the global biosurfactants market revenue share in 2018 followed by North America.

Growing demand of biosurfactants from consumers’ market, offers of more environment-friendly quality surfactants, and regulatory focus on certain traditional surfactants, are driving expected growth rate although lack of cost-competitiveness of biosurfactants remains a major concern.

Among all segments, Transparency Market Research noted household detergents and personal care will be the point of focus for biosurfactant application. The consulting firm expected market volume to reach 476,512 tons by 2018. Out of this volume, 21% of consumption is expected to come from developing regions such as Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Biosurfactants included in the report are rhamnolipids, sophorolipids, methyl ester sulfonates (MES), alkyl polyglucosides (APGs), sucrose esters, fatty acid n-methylglucimides, methyl glucoside esters, anionic APG derivatives, alkyl polypentosides, etc.

Just to round-up the surfactants market, global consumption of surfactants (both petroleum-based and biobased) is said to be $27bn in 2012 and is expected to reach revenue of $38.5bn by 2017, according to a report from this website Companies & While synthetic surfactants continue to occupy the major share, biobased surfactant consumption, however is expected to show a significant growth by 2017, according to their report.


Renewable energy and clean technologies are not the blog’s forte but there had been several market reports should be interesting for several chemical companies that cover these industries.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has even released its first ever medium-term renewable energy report last year stating forecast of a strong expansion for this market over the next five years although there are definitely a lot of challenges going on in this sector. IEA noted sharp growth in emerging economies due to rapidly increasing electricity demand and energy security needs.

China is expected to account for almost 40% of the new global renewable electricity capacity expected between 2011 and 2017. Significant deployment is also expected in the US, India, Germany and Brazil, among others, according to IEA.

Hydropower will continue to account for majority of renewable generation. Onshore wind, bioenergy and solar photovoltaics will see the largest increases, respectively, after hydropower.

Speaking of solar energy, Lux Research recently predict production costs for solar modules to fall as low as 48 cents/watt by 2017 as manufacturers push to profitability with supply outstripping demand by two to one. According to the consulting firm, module prices have fallen to a low 70 cents/watt over the past four years but the cost of goods sold (COGS) for modules has not yet reached this level, resulting in massive losses for most module manufacturers.

Some of the key findings from the report:

  • CIGS has the greatest potential to cut cost. COGS will fall across the board between 2012 and 2017, but the rate of decline will be the steepest for copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) thin-film modules, which can shave $0.14/W off the cost to $0.64/W.
  • Cadmium telluride (CdTe) remains the low cost leader. Despite the travails of its main champion, First Solar, CdTe thin-film modules will remain the cheapest solar option in 2017, at $0.48/W, down from the current $0.67/W.
  • Efficiencies are the key driver. Manufacturing location has the greatest potential influence on COGS but overcapacity makes opening new facilities in low-cost countries unlikely. Consequently, increasing module efficiencies will make the most difference, up to $0.09/W for mc-Si and $0.21/W for CIGS.

For biofuels, Frost & Sullivan analyzed the Southeast Asian biofuels market, which earned revenues of more than $1.78bn in 2011 and is expected to reach $4.3bn in 2017. Following the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, several Southeast Asian governments have introduced different blending mandates for biofuels to curb emissions, boost agriculture and hedge against crude oil market fluctuations.

Current biofuel penetration rate in Southeast Asia is 1.8% of the total automotive liquid fuels market and is forecast to grow 3.3% by 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan. Thailand is said to be the hub of biofuel production and consumption.

Meanwhile, Malaysian biodiesel market is frozen as many plants stopped operations due to the government’s unfavorable pricing mechanisms.Sustainability issues and higher crude palm oil prices have also hindered Malaysian biofuel exports to the European Union last year.

Indonesia is expected to enhance production of biodiesel and the Philippines is also experiencing significant consumption of both biodiesel and ethanol, which is mostly imported. Vietnam is expected to bring in blending mandates this year and produce biodiesel from catfish oil (??) and ethanol from cassava.

For energy storage, Lux Research noted hydrogen fuel cells is expected to continue its uphill climb with a modest $3bn market in 2030 because of high capital costs and challenges in distribution and infrastructure. According to Lux Research, hydrogen generation accounts for less than 33% of the cost at the pump but robust hydrogen vehicle fueling infrastructure is still insufficient to overhaul the passenger vehicle market.

“Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for telecom power and backup will reach $1bn in 2030 while fuel cells of all types for residential, commercial and utility generation will not prove cost-effective. PEM fuel cells for mobile applications will be worth $2bn on the backs of forklifts and light-duty vehicles.” – Lux Research

Pike Research, meanwhile, forecasts the global fuel cell industry will still surpass $15bn in 2017, which will include all applications in the stationary, portable and transport sectors. 2014-2015 timeframe is said to be critical in terms of transitioning from a niche industry to moving into the mainstream.

Fuel cell producers are reportedly largely limited to subsidy-strong markets or high-value early adopters (example is business users who travel frequently and carry external battery rechargers).

Pike Research also estimated advanced batteries for energy storage will reach $30bn by 2022. Amid rising demand for electricity and increasing penetration of renewable energy resources, advanced batteries is said to offer the promise of grid flexibility and generation asset enhancement at rapid speeds and varying levels of scalability.

The market for advanced batteries is expected to double each year for the next 5 years, reaching $7.6bn in 2017, according to Pike Research. The next several years will be crucial for the sector’s development, the consulting firm said, as regulatory and market structures are rapidly evolving, which will provide advanced batteries a unique value to grid infrastructure.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


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