The Smart Glass Market Trend – Raising Comfort, Cutting Costs, Saving Environment
The intrinsic capabilities of smart glasses to provide acoustic and thermal insulations, facilitate energy conservation and add aesthetics, effectively validating the evolving architectural philosophy are one part of the factor that is expected to drive the growth of the smart glass market. Additionally, the regulatory measures and policy-driven incentives by various national governments are expected to catalyze various strategic decisions pertaining to the smart glass market. The automotive sector along with public transportations such as trains and aviation-related applications are also expected to drive the market of smart glass. Further, robust demand from the commercial sector that stems from their strategic imperative of reducing their carbon footprint is also expected to be a noteworthy driver facilitating the growth of the market. Nevertheless, the demand from the residential sector for smart glasses will take some time to gain momentum which will be majorly supported by curiosity and initial interest. On the contrary, integrating smart glass solutions are expected to incur high initial expenditure which comprises procurement and installation expenditure. Further, even though smart glass solutions are dirt proof which necessitates occasional cleaning, maintaining them at regular intervals is required to prevent any possible malfunctioning, thereby incurring further expenses on maintenance. These factors are expected to deter market growth to a certain extent.
During the past few years, urban areas have experienced substantial growth with rapid changes experienced by nations around the world driven by their respective urbanized population. This has increasingly posed the challenge of meeting energy demands through sustainable means concomitantly reducing the cost of utilities. Thus, the initial endeavor of reducing the installation of light fixtures to increase daylight entering buildings and consequently reduce the cost of electricity manifested into the law of unintended consequences of increased glare and heat inside buildings which resulted in higher HVAC expenditures, which in turn stemmed from heat gains in warm months and heat loss in cold months. This realization has led to decisions about smart glass integration as exemplified by the reported announcement of California, USA, based Kinestral Technologies, Inc. in September 2018 that smart homes and buildings by Menlo Park, California based tech and construction company Katerra, will be having Halio Smart-Tinting Glass integrated into them, which is covered under a partnership between the two organizations. Further, the partnership also facilitates integrating Halio’s cloud-based automation system into Katerra’s systems, enabling an intuitive and seamless user experience for Karterra’s customers. Thus, such comprehensive partnerships are expected to contribute to the smart glass market growth, in the coming few years. This also effectively addresses the 2019 update to California’s Energy Code which necessitates greater than 50 % improvement in residential housing energy efficiency, which made it the most stringent building energy code in the USA.
The recognition of environment-friendly building codes are not just restricted to state energy policies but also has been acknowledged by supranational agencies like United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which recognizes that buildings are central to meeting the sustainability challenge since buildings are responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions, 70% of the consumption of electric power generated requiring efficacious energy performance management of buildings. With respect to EU 28, it can be stated with certitude that the energy and power industry has benefited from the institutionalization of public financial and fiscal instruments supporting energy renovations in buildings. Many countries within the EU have opted for deploying a combination of different instruments, each of them tailored to address different barriers, specific segments, and recipient groups within the building sector. Financial support is predominantly offered in the form of grants and /or subsidies, which is a particularly popular instrument in Austria, Croatia, Ireland, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Greece, and Poland. Whereas in countries like the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Portugal, Malta, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy, Hungary, Germany, France, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, and Austria, loans and soft loans are made available.
Further schemes like the SALIX scheme in the UK, the National Revolving Fund for Energy Savings in the Netherlands, the Kredex Fund in Estonia and Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Sources Fund in Bulgaria, are designed in the form of revolving funds, ultimately facilitating the scaling up of energy efficiency investments using a revolving mechanism. In other words, a portion of the savings generated by supported investments is used to replenish in part the fund (i.e. revolved) facilitating the possibilities of reinvestment in future projects of equivalent value. Further, surmising the aforementioned, there are reportedly about 129 instruments which support energy renovations in buildings across the EU, out of which 10% constitutes tax incentives, 19% constitutes loans/soft loans, 61% constitutes grants/subsidies, and the remainder 10% comprises a combination of the above. As of 2019, 15 billion Euros have been spent approximately by public resources on an annual basis across the EU. The largest schemes in terms of public resources expenditure are the German KfW Energy Efficient Refurbishment Programme, the French Energy Transition Tax Credit scheme, the Austrian Regional subsidies for energy efficiency in residential buildings, Italian Eco-bonus tax rebate scheme. Thus, delineating the fact that the investment environment is conducive for further development of the smart glass market in the next few years.
Besides buildings, smart glasses have received worldwide cognizance in other applications such as automotive and public transport to name a few, which is also expected to fuel the growth of the market. For instance, marking the worlds’ first adoption to be used as a sunroof in a mass-production vehicle, WONDERLITE™ Dx by AGC Inc. has been reportedly integrated by Toyota's new Harrier that was commercially made available in June 2020. The rationale for the integration is its rapid response time, which is the fastest in the world to date, enabling instantaneous control of the light transmission. Earlier in September 2018, a collaboration was announced between Heliotrope Technologies Inc. and Oran Safety Glass (OSG) to introduce NanoEC™ smart glass technology thereby endeavoring the commercialization of the technology in the transportation industry. Further enabling transport operators to sustainably respond to the need for real-time passenger comfort. In this manner, the need for curtains has been eliminated which not only results in saving water as the need for laundering them is also eliminated at the same time but also provides the passengers with a technologically-driven-innovative means to control the degree of shade without comprising the experience of the view.
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