The ongoing revolution in green technologies, driven by the exponential growth of new energy vehicles and continued investment in solar photovoltaic energy, should further boost global industrial demand for silver over the next decade and beyond. These sectors, along with silver demand in nuclear power, are explored in a new report, The Role of Silver in the Green Revolution, released today by the Silver Institute.
The cost of installing and providing solar photovoltaic systems has fallen rapidly relative to other electrical energy sources over the past two decades. This is expected to continue over the medium-term, leading to an ever-increasing share in renewable energy generation and investment for PV, led by both macroeconomic/cost considerations and public policy. Silver’s importance to solar energy is well documented and the metal will continue to play a substantial role in this technology. It is estimated that roughly 820 million ounces (Moz) of silver will be utilized by global solar energy applications through 2030.
Growth in silver demand in green technologies
The Silver Institute
Recognizing an opportunity to curb pollution in urban areas, governments across the globe have provided financial incentives, as well as new regulations, that favor the development of electric and hybrid vehicles into their broader strategies to tackle climate change. China, the largest car market in the world, is gradually moving from incentivizing consumers to buy electric vehicles to penalizing manufacturers who fail to offer NEV models. Other nations have also made longer-term commitments to EVs, including Norway, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the U.K, France, and seven U.S states.
Spurred on by this policy support, as well as falling costs, new energy vehicles such as battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will account for an ever-increasing proportion of global vehicle sales. A potential game changer for transportation is the use of inductively coupled power transfer technology to wirelessly charge vehicles using silver-plated induction coils. Though current market penetration remains low, improvements in performance and cost can open significant opportunities for wireless charger adoption in the coming years. When combined, these efforts are projected to account for approximately 725 Moz of total silver demand through 2030.
An often-overlooked application for silver is nuclear power, where silver is used in combination with other metals to produce the reactors’ control rods. The rod cluster control assemblies are inserted into the reactor to control the rate of fission, and as such must be made of a material that is capable of absorbing neutrons without undergoing nuclear fission itself, has a high mechanical strength, and is resistant to corrosion. One of the most common materials used is an alloy that is 80% silver, 15% indium and 5% cadmium. Though small in terms of expected offtake at 19 Moz of total silver demand through 2030, demand for silver in this area could rise with future growth of nuclear reactors globally.
The report was authored by CRU, a global commodities consultancy. Detailed analysis behind the projections are presented in the publication, which can be downloaded for free at this link: The Role of Silver in the Green Revolution.
The Silver Institute is a non-profit international industry association headquartered in Washington, D.C. Established in 1971, the Institute’s members include leading silver producers, prominent silver refiners, manufacturers and dealers. The Institute serves as the industry’s voice in increasing public understanding of the value and the many uses of silver.
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