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Several announced large-scale projects will cause the European CLT market to grow considerably till 2020 – in 2018 already, the 1 million m³ mark will probably be cracked. © Günther Jauk
CLT MARKET 2017-2020

Triumph of CLT continues

Article by Günther Jauk, translated by Susanne Höfler | 14.11.2017 - 08:28

With a growth of 14% to 700,000 m³, CLT producers in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) will set yet another record in 2017. This rise is caused by production increases of almost all large-scale producers at existing sites as well as the launch of the second Binderholz factory in Burgbernheim.
Despite the increase in production of 150,000 m³, capacities of domestic factories are well utilized – delivery times of up to several months are not unusual, and the delivery situation of outfitters is quite similar. The order books of many machine manufacturers are filled until late next year already. Additional launches are therefore only expected for 2019.
Besides unconfirmed construction projects by KLH in Wiesenau, the Johann Pabst Holzindustrie in Zeltweg and a company in Western Austria, two 100,000 m³ projects have already been made official, namely Pfeifer Holz's first CLT factory in Schlitz and Stora Enso's third site in Gruvön/SE. Industry experts do not see this increasing concentration as a problem yet – the market is still offers enough room for some more factories. Machine producers on the other hand also reckon that several fully planned facilities will never even make it beyond the planning stage.

Future market Scandinavia

After Finland and Latvia, Maritonsons realized the first CLT line in Sweden – up next is Norway. Timber industry Splitkon has already ordered two 16 m presses which will probably go into operation in 2019. "The Scandinavian housing construction sector is responding very positively to CLT. Several further production sites will be realized there", Dr. Gerhard Schickhofer, professor at the Technical University of Graz, assesses the situation.

What are the goings-on on the island?

A little to the West, Great Britain’s first CLT production has yet to be established even though the housing market is highly receptive. It looks like the launch of a 120,000 m³/yr site in Leeds as announced by insurance group Legal & General is delayed indefinitely.

A look across the Atlantic

CLT also fell on fertile ground in North America. By now, several production sites as well as active research & development make the continent a particularly rapidly growing market. Only a few weeks ago, the multi-family house producer Katerra announced to enter the industry in 2018. SmartLam – one of America's CLT pioneers – is planning to quadruple its yearly output from 20,000 to 80,000 m³ by means of launching a new site. Moreover, International Beams, XLam USA, Columbia CLT and American Laminators are considered potential market newcomers.

Japan shows potential

In 2014 already, Japan announced plans for creating a domestic CLT industry. According to these plans, the country aims at producing 500,000 m³ of cross-laminated timber until 2024. With 60,000 m³ in the past year, the first intermediate objective was surpassed by 10,000 m³. Schickhofer even sees the possibility of a tenfold increase of the Japanese market conceding, however, that his might take some more time.

Height is not everything

Despite the currently excellent sales situation, experts point out that with regards to development, a lot still must be done. "Only when we are able to offer complete building solutions with fully developed facade and building technology, we can speak of a new timber construction system", as Schickhofer puts it; an approach that many leading producers are already working on. CLT pioneer Karl Moser advices all newcomers to think for themselves and question even seemingly trivial things like board dimensions.
Generally speaking, Schickhofer is advocating to focus less on height and rather focus on width and length: "The objective should not be to build even more stories but increasing the operating life as well as exploring a broader range of applications."