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Södra to invest in new CLT facility at Värö

Swedish forest owners association Södra has announced that it is investing in a small facility for cross-laminated timber (CLT) adjacent to its Värö sawmill in southwest Sweden. The plans include a future investment in a larger facility.
"Södra is focused on increasing the use of sustainable timber construction and wants to take part and to stake out a position, in this growing market," said Jörgen Lindquist, President of the Södra Wood business area.

Södra is investing in a small facility for cross-laminated timber (CLT) adjacent to its Värö sawmill in southwest Sweden. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a solid-wood construction panel made from at least three layers of lamella glued crosswise. CLT is a flexible material and, compared with other materials, is transport-efficient, light and maintains high environmental integrity (photo courtesy Södra).

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a flexible material and particularly competitive in major cities, where the aim is to densify and construct high-rise buildings. Compared with other materials, CLT is transport-efficient, light and maintains high environmental integrity. These benefits are reflected not only in housing production but also in the construction of sports facilities, warehouses, offices, and schools.

Södra is focused on increasing the use of sustainable timber construction and wants to take part and to stake out a position, in this growing market. Production is scheduled to commence in early 2019. The facility will have an annual capacity of about 5,000 m³ per shift, said Jörgen Lindquist, President of the Södra Wood business area.

The investment, the amount of which has not been disclosed, is an important part of Södra’s strategic process of building long-term relationships across the value chain.

CLT will help us develop a new way of working, where we will be offering the most cost-effective material on the market for the construction of high-rise buildings. We are putting a complete customer offering together for CLT and will expand profitability as the market grows, said Jörgen Lindquist.

A growing market for CLT

According to Södra, high-rise construction with timber is a growing market and demand is driven by both economics and sustainability. Demand is strong across all of northern Europe – in countries where Södra already holds a leading market position.

An extensive project has been ongoing for 12 months to improve and develop the profitability of Södra’s existing sawmills. At the same time, the best type of timber engineering for Södra’s structure, position, and various markets has been under assessment.

Södra’s main mission is to strengthen family forestry by offering new and innovative products. We have identified CLT as an interesting product and want to take part, and to stake out a position, in a growing market. But we are also aware that this will require heavy investment, take time to position ourselves in the market and are associated with business risks. That is why we are starting out small, said Lars Idermark, CEO of Södra.

The location at Värö has been strategically chosen for its proximity to several Nordic high-growth regions, and the ease of shipping to both the UK and other international destinations. The facility will be co-located with Södra’s pulp mills and sawmills for access to green electricity and completed infrastructure. The investment is expected to generate several new jobs.

About CLT

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a solid-wood construction panel made from at least three layers of lamella (pine or spruce) glued crosswise. The normal size is 3 x 16 metres, but panels are also available in a range of dimensions and grades. The CLT panels have pre-cut openings for doors and windows, according to customer requirements. CLT is suitable for both interior and exterior walls, as well as ceilings and flooring.

Most production currently takes place in Austria and Germany. There is some capacity in the Nordic region, but none at all in southern Sweden. The product has attracted a great deal of interest and in the markets where CLT is growing, demand is greater than supply. Major CLT-based building projects have both been completed and are ongoing all over the world with the aim of developing the market and demonstrating the competitiveness of the technique compared with concrete.  As a product, CLT has experienced double-digit growth since it was introduced in early 2000 and this trend is expected to continue in the years to come.

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