Variable speed compressors are one of the technical innovations driving demand in the global air compressor market, according to a new Technavio report.

The market analyst’s latest insight into the global compressor market for 2016-2020 – due to be published on May 16th – shows steady growth throughout the forecast period.

During the remainder of the decade, worldwide revenues are expected to increase by 7% as a compound annual growth rate.

Variable speed compressors are an important part of this, following highly successful launches of variable speed air compressors in the first half of the decade.

These successes are based on multiple benefits, including improved productivity for customers, and reduced negative impacts on the environment.

Variable speed air compressors also help to reduce energy consumption – by up to an impressive 35% compared with fixed speed air compressors, Technavio notes.

Key industries for the sector include oil and gas, which dominated revenues in 2015, particularly in the ‘upstream’ part of the industry where exploration and discovery takes place.

This is worth between $10 billion and $14 billion each year, with air compressors used primarily for the control and actuation of valves in the upstream discovery and extraction part of the petroleum process.

But there are many more applications for air compressors in the oil and gas sector, as Technavio’s report also recognises.

“Compressed air finds various applications in this industry, including sweetening of gasoline, oxidation of sour water, and catalyst regeneration,” it points out.

“Wastewater treatment plants require compressors for agitation to keep solids in suspension, drive the pumps to move the material, and supply oxygen as a measure to support the processing bacteria.”

All of these applications are expected to help support the growth forecast, particularly in parts of the world where new facilities are being brought online over the coming 3-4 years.