Annual Report 2021

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Creating tomorrow’s solutions

Sector-Specific Conditions

We supply products to a wide range of industries. Our main customers are in the chemical, construction, electrical, electronics and photovoltaic sectors.

Chemical Industry Returns to Growth

After a negative trend in 2020, the chemical industry grew significantly in 2021. Demand for chemicals and pharmaceuticals was strong. At times, the recovery was slowed by raw-material shortages and supply-chain problems. According to the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the chemical industry’s global sales (including pharmaceuticals) totaled €5 trillion in 2020, with Asia accounting for almost 60 percent. In recent years, the centers of growth have shifted increasingly toward emerging markets. Investment activities are intensifying in countries with low energy and raw-material costs. Europe benefits from these growth markets through foreign trade. This trend continued in 2021.

In Germany, too, the chemical-pharmaceutical industry expanded in 2021. The sector recorded strong growth, particularly in the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, global material shortages, logistics problems and strong energy-price increases led to production declines in some chemical industry segments. Based on VCI figures, sales in this industry, Germany’s third largest, nevertheless expanded by a substantial 15.5 percent to €220 billion (2020: €191 billion). Overall, production grew by 4.5 percent. Prices rose by 8.5 percent year over year, the strongest growth rate in the past ten years.

Construction Industry Recovers

After a significant drop in 2020, the construction industry recovered in 2021. According to market research institute B+L Marktdaten GmbH, construction expenditure increased in nearly all markets. Growth was driven by new building projects and construction work on existing buildings – especially energy-efficient refurbishment. Construction activity in Western Europe and Asia showed particularly strong growth. Globally, construction volume increased by 2.5 percent in 2021 to around US$9.34 trillion (2020: US$9.11 trillion).

Growth Rate in Construction by Region in 2021


Growth Rate in Construction by Region in 2021 (bar chart)
Source: B+L Marktdaten GmbH, November 2021

Electrical and Electronics Industry Posts Increase

After stagnating in the previous year, the global electrical and electronics market grew by 9 percent to about €5.02 trillion in 2021 (2020: €4.60 trillion), according to estimates of Germany’s Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI). Volumes grew by around 7 percent in advanced economies, while the increase was even more pronounced in emerging economies, at 10 percent.

Photovoltaics Pivotal to Global Energy Supply

The global solar sector continued to grow in 2021, despite the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Various market studies and our own market surveys show that some 170 gigawatts (GW) were newly installed worldwide (2020: about 140 GW). That was around 21 percent more than the year before. The amount of installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity worldwide exceeded 900 GW at year-end 2021. About half of the new capacity in 2021 was added in China, Japan and the USA. Key factors in the global expansion of PV installations were incentives coupled with low system costs. Photovoltaics have become competitive compared with electricity generated from conventional energy sources. In several solar auctions in sun-rich regions, the trading price for solar power was down to below US$15 per megawatt-hour.

Installation of New PV Capacity in 2021 and 2020




Installation of New PV Capacity (MW)


Growth in 2021





























Rest of Europe



































Other regions














Sources: Germany’s Federal Network Agency, SolarPower Europe (SPE), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), China National Energy Agency, market studies, and WACKER’s own market surveys.

(Table unaudited)

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe (graphic)
Ø Annual average in each case
(Table unaudited)

Raw-Material Prices Substantially Higher Year over Year

Prices for raw materials rose significantly in 2021, with some reaching all-time highs far exceeding the usual range of fluctuation. The price trends were driven by strong demand in all segments. At the same time there were supply shortages, due to weather-related production outages, frequent technical disruptions and logistics difficulties. Cost increases for basic products such as oil, natural gas and coal were passed through the supply chain to derivatives. In addition, substantial scarcity premiums were charged for many raw materials.

Prices for ethylene and methanol, two important raw materials for WACKER, trended largely in line with prices for fossil-based raw materials. On the other hand, prices for the key raw material vinyl acetate were severely affected by major production outages in the USA in the spring due to an ice storm. At the same time, reductions in supply in northeast Asia in the second half of the year prevented a recovery of global stocks of monomer. In addition, there were extreme price increases for metallurgical silicon in the second half of the year. Strong demand collided with production that was not at full capacity in Western industrialized countries. Prices were also driven by production cutbacks in China due to electricity shortages.

Surge in Electricity, Natural Gas and CO2 Prices

Prices for all energy sources increased sharply worldwide in 2021. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, strong demand amid low supplies and unfavorable weather events pushed prices for coal and natural gas to record heights. Prices for crude oil, on the other hand, recovered to pre-crisis levels of about US$80 per barrel.

Higher demand for coal and natural gas resulted from below-average electricity generation from wind farms in Europe as well as from low output from hydroelectric power plants in South America, Scandinavia and Europe due to droughts. At the same time, there were bottlenecks in coal logistics and production due to heavy rainfall in Asia and production cutbacks in China. As a result, coal prices increased to as much as US$250 per metric ton. Even the increased supply of liquefied natural gas could hardly meet the strong increase in demand for natural gas in China and other countries, driving spot prices in Asia and Europe to over €100/MWh.

The increased use of fossil fuels in Europe and, above all, the EU’s stricter climate goals, drove the CO2 price to over €70 per metric ton in the course of the year. In the fourth quarter of 2021, average spot market prices for electricity in Germany were at €176 per megawatt hour, due to high gas and CO2 prices. Electricity prices in Germany are burdened with additional taxes and surcharges, including grid fees, electricity taxes and the German EEG surcharge for renewables. Energy prices not only reached all-time highs in 2021, but were also substantially more volatile.

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER (graphic)
Ø Annual average in each case
(Table unaudited)
A colorless, slightly sweet-smelling gas that, under normal conditions, is lighter than air. It is needed as a chemical starting product for a great many synthetic materials, including polyethylene and polystyrene. It is used to make products for the household, agricultural, automotive and construction sectors, among others.
After oxygen, silicon is the most common element in the Earth’s crust. In nature, it occurs without exception in the form of compounds, chiefly silicon dioxide and silicates. Silicon is obtained through energy-intensive reaction of quartz sand with carbon and is the most important raw material in the electronics industry.