When positioning any analysis of the European industrial gas market, one has to acknowledge this is a region that has been considered very mature and, therefore, lacking in high-growth opportunities for many years now.
In fact, we might describe the assessment in the region as ‘subdued’ over the last decade. Europe arguably cut its teeth and carved its niches many years ago and is naturally home to well-established end-user markets and – by and large – economies. This is reflected in the revenues of the respective industrial gas markets in the region over the last two decades.
And yet, this is an era of new niches that we are moving into. There are new pockets of applications growth, exciting new opportunities in energy, and a subtle repositioning of the European gases business as a whole. A confluence of factors has created an inflection point for the industry in Europe in the last 1-2 years, laying the foundations for what could be a very progressive period for the European industrial gases business for the next decade and beyond.
The Covid pandemic impacted economies across Europe, but also brought about a sense of reset and appraisal of the reshoring of supply chains; the clean energies transition accelerated during that pandemic-induced pause, heightening the sense of opportunity in a European market at that time taking a lead in the transition; and the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict itself accelerated the movements towards energy and supply chain security, as well as beginning a reprofiling of the Russian gases business. At the same time, the digitisation megatrend has continued to gather pace in the background, creating new opportunities in its own right and enabling the other megatrends of decentralisation and decarbonisation.
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