The world’s appetite for solar panels is squeezing silver supply (Bloomberg News – July 2, 2023)

Changes to solar panel technology are accelerating demand for silver, a phenomenon that’s widening a supply deficit for the metal with little additional mine production on the horizon.

Silver, in paste form, provides a conductive layer on the front and the back of silicon solar cells. But the industry is now beginning to make more efficient versions of cells that use a lot more of the metal, which is set to boost already-increasing consumption.

Solar is still a fairly small part of overall silver demand, but it’s growing. It’s forecast to make up 14% of consumption this year, up from around 5% in 2014, according to a report from The Silver Institute, an industry association. Much of the growth is coming from China, which is on track to install more panels this year than the entire total in the US.

Solar is a “great example of how inelastic demand for silver is,” said Gregor Gregersen, founder of Singapore-based dealer Silver Bullion.

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