The ongoing green technologies revolution, driven by the exponential growth of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and continued investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) energy, should boost global industrial demand for silver over the next decade, says nonprofit industry organisation Silver Institute in a new report.
‘The Role of Silver in the Green Revolution’ report notes that the cost of manufacturing and installing PV systems has and will continue to fall rapidly relative to other electrical energy sources. This has led to PV gaining an ever-increasing share in renewable energy generation and investment, 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 of silver will be consumed by global solar energy applications through 2030,” the Silver Institute states.
The report notes that governments worldwide have implemented financial incentives, as well as new regulations, that favour the development of NEVs into their broader strategies to tackle climate change. “China, the largest car market in the world, is gradually moving from incentivising consumers to buy electric vehicles to penalising manufacturers who fail to offer NEV models.”
Other nations have also made longer-term commitments to EVs, including Norway, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the UK, France, as well as seven US states.
Consequently, NEVs 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,” the report outlines.
It states that these efforts are projected to account for about 725-million ounces of total silver demand through 2030.
Silver is also used in combination with other metals to produce nuclear 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, have a high mechanical strength, and be resistant to corrosion. One of the most common materials used is an alloy that is 80% silver, 15% indium and 5% cadmium,” the institute explains.
The report notes that although the expected nuclear-based offtake of 19-million ounces through 2030 is small, demand for silver in this area could rise with future growth of nuclear reactors globally.