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Glass manufacturing is an industry fueled primarily by natural gas and electricity, making it extremely energy-intensive. The production of flat glass requires the melting of raw materials in furnaces that run on gas virtually non-stop while automotive glazing lines operate on electricity.
With energy prices hitting new records on a daily basis and expected to skyrocket to unprecedented levels in the near future, European glass manufacturers are under massive pressure. In March 2021 the TTF gas price was 18€ per MwH. In less than one year it has soared to 114€ (at the time of writing), dropping from a record 227€ on 7th March. Electricity is not faring better: in 2021 the day ahead average power price in Europe was 106€ per KwH, climbing to 180€ in 2022!
The production cost of a windshield today is 30 to 60% higher than it was 12 months ago. The rapid inflation of the energy sources combined with price increases for materials used for windshield components, such as wood, PVB and plastic, and the added fallout of the conflict in eastern Europe sees European glass manufacturers struggling to remain profitable.
Keeping production lines running at a profitable level while maintaining the quality level customers are used to calls for drastic price increases that keep pace with prevailing market conditions. The only other option is to shut down glazing production lines which will generate significant shortages.
The glass industry was never in such dire straits and like many other energy-intensive manufacturing businesses, it too could eventually collapse under the pressure.