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Solar Market Trends

PV demand continues to rise amid surge in silver prices

August 7, 2020 PV Infolink


Silver futures had climbed as much as 8% in July, the biggest gain since March. While industrial demand remains stable, investors have flocked to the metals for safe haven amid COVID-19 resurgence and a tumbling dollars. As investors worry the surge in coronavirus cases will threaten the dollar’s place as the world’s reserve currency, silver, a hard asset that cannot be printed, becomes attractive.

Unlike gold, silver is a precious metal for industrial usage and also considered as an investment. In the solar industry alone, global PV projects account for about 15% of silver demand, according to economist Jeffrey Currie at Goldman Sachs. With the solar sector rising rapidly as part of the renewable energy revolution, investing in silver also means investing in renewable energy.

According to PV InfoLink, silver paste, which is a critical application in solar cells and modules, accounts for about 40% of the non-silicon cost of p-type cells. N-type products, such as heterojunction (HJT) cells, require even larger amount of silver paste usage. As HJT is a low-temperature process, it requires a particular silver paste that is significantly more expensive. Although silver paste usage has dropped by one-third comparing with the early stage of development, the silver price hikes may hamper the status of n-type products in the PV market.

Demand for silver from the PV sector have peaked in 2019. The average silver content per cell in 2019 was 111 mg, and the amount of silver loading is forecast to drop to 80 mg in 2024, according to a research report jointly released by the Silver Institute and the consulting firm CRU in June this year.

However, the report also pointed out that the rate of silver thrifting has decelerated since 2016. Meanwhile, demand for PV modules is still on the rise and will reach 186 GW in 2025, projected PV InfoLink. Overall, silver demand from the PV sector will maintain steady growth in the years to come.


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