New kid on the block breaks into the smart windows and glass industry

Franco Gonzalez
New kid on the block breaks into the smart windows and glass industry
A new kid on the block has broken into the smart windows and glass industry - and this time it's not a glass manufacturer!
IDTechEx's research report Smart Windows and Smart Glass 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts contains all the required information you will need to understand the different smart windows and glass technologies, the drivers that are behind the emergence of this new industry, their relative performance and potential market value of the different technologies involved and the strategies of the main players behind it.
Smart glass is a portfolio of new technologies that based on new achievements in material science, demands on energy efficiency and comfort and smart building automation requirements are reaching a new momentum.
New players are entering this emerging industry; such is the case of the Merck Group. Merck KGaA, is the performance materials division of Merck Group that contributes with 15% of the groups revenue, €1.65 billion. It is the world's largest maker of liquid crystals used in TVs, tablet and smartphone screens, and now will become a new player in the clean energy industry through its 100% acquisition of the Dutch smart windows company Peer+.
Peer+ features former Merck organic chemist and LCD scientist Andy Cumming as CEO. Its flagship product is called "Smart Energy Glass," which the company says can switch from "bright" to "dark" modes, as well as an opaque "privacy" mode, all using energy generated from the sunlight striking the panel. Merck in 2012 acquired 70 percent of Peer+'s capital and is now buying the remaining shares, financial terms have not been disclosed.
This is the most recent move of a large player into the smart windows and glass industry, previously in June last year View Co. secured $62 million in a Series E funding round lead by Corning, the large glass company with $8 billion revenue in 2013. Before that, Saint Gobain the major French glass manufacturer (€43 billion in 2013) bought the start-up company SAGE Glass. Saint-Gobain made an initial $80 million strategic investment in SAGE in 2010 and purchased the rest of the company in May 2012.
Just after making this move, in December 2012, SAGE filed a lawsuit claiming infringement of two US patents by View. This movement reflects the huge stakes that the two electrochromic smart glass technologies see in the potential of this emerging market.
However Peer+'s technology is different, since it harvests solar energy, a value proposition that currently neither SAGE's nor VIEW's electrochromic technology can deliver.
IDTechEx Research shows that the emerging smart windows and glass industry is not a technology hype but it reflects the matureness of new glass technologies and the emergence of new ones. These smart windows and smart glass technologies will become at least a $700 million market in 10 years.
Energy harvesting and smart glass technologies are a natural fit since they complement and supplement each other in the pursuit of clean energy and efficient use of energy in the built infrastructure. The natural formula for a sustainable energy system is first to accomplish energy efficiency (smart glass), recover energy from the environment and then satisfy the reduced energy demand with cleaner technologies (energy harvesting).
IDTechEx understands this logic therefore after the publishing of our first report on the topic, Smart Windows and Smart Glass 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts, we organised the first Smart Glass and Smart Windows Forum in our Energy Harvesting Europe 2014 conference held in April in Berlin. The second edition of this exclusive event is to be held during Energy Harvesting USA 2014 in Santa Clara, CA, on the 19-20 November. Here will be the best companies speaking and presenting their latest innovations in smart windows and smart glass technologies.
IDTechEx's report "Smart Windows and Smart Glass 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts" will provide you with the required technological and strategic knowledge that you will need to assess your company's opportunities in this exciting emerging industry.
Top image source: Roy Kaltschmidt/Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab