April 23, 2012
Though Ancient Egyptians associated gold with the sun, it seems that silver, with its heat conducting capabilities, is the sun’s closer relative. Silver is currently being employed in the construction of solar panels, thereby raising silver’s demand on the precious metals market. In this sense, it seems like the sun is shining down on silver, both literally and figuratively.
As our environmentally conscious society seeks out alternative energy solutions, there has been an increase in the demand for silver. Analysts estimate that millions of ounces of silver will be acquired for its industrial use in the photovoltaic (PV) cells required for the construction of solar panels.
Of course, this demand for silver depends on several factors, related more to the solar market than to the silver itself. The solar market could see huge expansion if the government agrees to put a stake in its support, and if technological advances cut the costs to produce it. Things are looking bright on both fronts. Government policies around the world, particularly in Europe, are encouraging renewable energy, hoping for solar energy to compensate for 20% of total energy by 2020, as opposed to the 10% in 2008. In terms of cutting costs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost for a typical solar module has already dropped 40% from 2008 to 2009, which looks good for both solar power and silver. Spain, Japan, and Germany are the current leaders in adopting PV solar power, but all eyes are on the US, because of its technological potential and solar resources.
So how will this affect the sale of silver? A typical solar panel uses approximately 20 grams of silver, about two-thirds of a troy ounce. From 2009 to 2010, the use of silver in solar panels increased from 20.9 million to 64 million. As the demand of silver for use in solar construction increases, silver’s value will increase in proportion.
Despite this common logic, some silver analysts dispute silver’s future demand in relation to the adoption of solar energy. Jeffery R. Ellis, senior technology consultant to the Silver Institute and adjunct professor of environmental science and chemistry at the Florida International University, notes that many infant electronic products rely on silver for maximum efficiency, but once the products come into finalization, can run on cheaper metals, such as silver alloys and copper. He also questions whether solar panels will actually gain popularity, claiming, “It seems like it’s the technology of the future and always will be.” But this seems like pessimistic thinking.
It is generally believed that gold is a better investment than silver, but silver’s industrial applications, especially in the future of eco-friendly energy alternatives, means its demand is on the rise. In addition to its use in solar panels, silver is implemented in the manufacture of electronics, eyeglasses, batteries, defoggers, water purification systems, photographs, cutlery, window panels, and NASA spacecrafts. Analysts have declared silver as the investment of the decade; it is currently valued at a high of $35 per ounce. In bullish times, like today, selling silver is a smart way to make quick cash, while earning the highest possible returns for your silver goods.
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