Annual Report 2023

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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, automotive and photovoltaic sectors.

Challenging Environment for Chemical Industry

In 2023, the chemical industry faced significant challenges around the world. High energy and raw-material prices and diminishing orders burdened the sector, keeping production low in many countries. According to the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), global chemical production (excluding pharmaceuticals) grew by only 1 percent in the first three quarters of 2023. Growth slowed in Europe, the Americas and many Asian economies. Only China and Russia reported positive growth trends.

Germany’s chemical-pharmaceutical industry was dampened by the weak economic trend and structural problems in 2023, with production decreasing in every sector. According to the VCI, German chemical production fell by 8 percent. Without pharmaceuticals, the decline was as much as 11 percent. At many companies, capacity utilization was well below normal levels, reflecting domestic and foreign customers’ caution in placing orders. Producer prices and chemical-industry sales were lower year over year. In a VCI survey of member companies in November 2023, more than 40 percent of those surveyed complained about weaker profits and even losses. The VCI reported that sales in the sector fell by 12 percent to €230 billion in 2023.

Construction Industry in Downward Trend

According to an analysis by the market research institute B+L Marktdaten GmbH, the global construction industry trended downward in 2023. This was due to a significant rise both in key interest rates and real-estate rates, which held back new construction activity in numerous markets. In addition, rises in the cost of living and economic uncertainty impeded construction work on existing buildings, too. A regional comparison showed that the construction slowdown affecting residential buildings was strongest in western Europe. However, other regions recorded negative figures as well. Preliminary figures show that total global construction volumes fell by 2.4 percent to some US$9.23 trillion (2022: US$9.46 trillion).

Growth Rate in Construction Activities for (New and Existing) Residential Buildings by Region in 2023
















Western Europe



North America



Middle East/Africa



Eastern Europe



South America



Source: B+L Marktdaten GmbH, Global Building Monitor, as of 02/2024

International Automotive Markets Report Rise in New Registrations

According to the Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA), global car markets grew markedly in 2023 versus 2022, primarily due to better vehicle availability. Europe, the USA and China – the three key regions accounting for over two thirds of new car registrations worldwide – recorded growth, albeit at different rates. While the European and US markets struggled to reach pre-pandemic levels, the Chinese car market had already returned to those levels back in 2022. With record sales in 2023, China’s car market was an important pillar of the country’s economy. In a comparison of Europe’s five largest individual markets, the German market performed much more weakly in late 2023, as a non-recurring effect (changes to electric-car subsidies) implemented in the German electric-car segment at the end of 2022 no longer applied in December 2023, which meant that the total number of new vehicles registered in Germany during that month was particularly low.

Photovoltaics Pivotal to Global Energy Supply

The global solar industry continued to expand in 2023. Various market studies and our own market surveys show that new capacity of some 410 gigawatts (GW) was installed globally (2022: about 250 GW). That was around 64 percent more year over year. The amount of installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity worldwide reached around 1.6 terawatts (1,600 GW) at year-end 2023. As a result, the sustained and rapid growth of global PV markets continued in 2023. Alongside incentives, key factors spurring global PV expansion included low system costs. Today, photovoltaics is already competitive compared with electricity generated from conventional energy sources. In several solar auctions in sun-rich regions, the trading price for solar power was even less than US$ 15 per megawatt-hour. Despite the global rise in new installations, conditions in the PV industry remained challenging. In the USA and India, tariffs on imported solar cells and modules are increasing prices and impeding growth. And, in China, the PV industry has built up vast excess capacity. Strong competitive pressures continue throughout the supply chain.

Installation of New PV Capacity in 2023 and 2022




Installation of new PV capacity (MW)


Growth in 2022





























Rest of Europe



































Other regions














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

(Table unaudited)

Raw-Material Prices Mainly Still at a High Level

In 2023, most raw-material prices dropped relative to a year earlier. Two main factors spurred this trend. First, demand slumped sharply in some cases versus 2022, whereas supply was unlimited for most products. Second, the cost of key raw materials such as crude oil, coal and natural gas also decreased, pushing down the prices of derivatives. On balance, lower raw-material and energy prices generated year-over-year savings for WACKER of some €450 million in 2023.

Market prices for metallurgical-grade silicon, one of WACKER’s key raw materials, eased in 2022 and continued to do so in 2023, after shortages had caused sharp price rises in 2021. In 2023, WACKER’s main petrochemical raw materials (vinyl acetate, acetic acid, ethylene and methanol) largely mirrored the cost trends of the basic materials used in their production, such as natural gas, crude oil/naphtha and coal. Prices fell in the first half of 2023 and climbed again in the third quarter. An additional factor for acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), both key acetyl products for WACKER, was that 2021/22 prices had been very high amid shortages and that the normalization process was not yet complete at the start of 2023. On balance raw-material prices, driven by higher energy prices, were still largely above 2018/19 levels in late 2023 despite weak demand.

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

Silicon metal (€/t)

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe – Silicon metal (graphic)

Ethylene (€/t)

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe – Ethylene (graphic)

Methanol (€/t)

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe – Methanol (graphic)

Vinyl acetate monomer (€/t)

Market-Price Trends for WACKER’s Key Raw Materials in Europe – Vinyl acetate monomer (graphic)

Energy Prices Still at a High Level

Prices for coal and natural gas fell significantly in 2023 after peaking the year before. Following an easing of the natural-gas supply due to a globally mild winter in 2022/2023, naturalgas prices stabilized in Europe at around double their pre-pandemic level. As a result, wholesale electricity prices fell to a level that is about twice as high as in 2019/2020. Price-reducing factors included more energy being generated by wind and photovoltaic systems, plus the higher availability of French nuclear power plants.

In non-liberalized markets, such as in Asia, the higher coal and natural-gas costs in some cases were not felt until 2023 in the form of increased prices, including for electricity.

The price of coal decreased as the result of slowing demand, which was impacted by improved natural-gas supply and by the weakening economy. Crude-oil prices largely moved sideways during the year, with OPEC’s production cuts in the summer only briefly offsetting the decline in demand. At year-end, the average monthly price for crude oil of the Brent kind was US$80 per barrel. The price of CO2 rose considerably early in the year, but then fell once more during the year. This stemmed not only from falling demand amid lower emissions from coal and oil-based products, but also from bleaker economic expectations in the second half of the year. A foreseeable marked shortage of certificates in the medium term merely dampened the cyclical fall in prices. 

At the end of 2023, however, electricity and gas prices were still double their level at the start of the Ukraine war. Existing supply contracts and price hedges in some cases increased costs in 2023 (relative to a pure spot-purchasing strategy). This was because prices fell much faster than previously expected despite the ongoing war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East.

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER

Traded electricity price in Germany (EEX, front year) (€/MWh)

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER – Traded electricity price in Germany (graphic)

CO2 (€/t) (EEX Spot)

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER – CO2 (graphic)

Brent crude (€/bbl) (ICE front month)

Market-Price Trends for Energy Sources Relevant to WACKER – Brent crude (graphic)