In 2016, the world hit a tipping point. For the first time, electricity from solar energy (and wind energy) was cheaper than electricity produced by burning fossil fuels.
Silver plays a vital role in the production of solar cells that produce electricity.
In 2016, Photovoltaic (PV) demand for silver was up 43% over the previous year, the strongest growth since 2010. It was driven by a 49% increase in global solar panel installations, fueled largely by a doubling of annual solar panel installations in China and the United States, according to the World Silver Survey 2017. Worldwide consumption of silver for photovoltaic reached a record 76.6 million ounces.
How is silver used in solar cells? Silver powder is turned into a paste which is then loaded onto a silicon wafer. When light strikes the silicon, electrons are set free and the silver – the world’s best conductor – carries the electricity for immediate use or stores it in batteries for later consumption.