Silver & Solar
Industrial vs. Investor
... the key factor to silver is industrial fabrication representing around 60% of total demand. At first glance it might not make sense to many, as fabrication demand has been in decline since peaking at 676.3 million ounces in 2011.
The high prices in 2010 and 2011 were driven by fears of low supply and shortages and as a result the industry stockpiled metal to ensure they have supply. Industrial demand has been falling since that peak in 2011 even though world economic conditions have been on the mend.
The other unusual factor in this regard is the solar industry.
Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, making it an important part of solar cells. It is used in the form of silver paste, which is used to conduct electricity out of solar cells. Industry estimates are approximately 20 grams of silver are used in each crystalline silicon solar panel, which accounts for around 85% of the total market. Roughly 80 metric tons of silver or approximately 2.8 million ounces of silver are needed to generate approximately 1 gigawatt of solar power.
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