R esearch by the University Of Kent says that rising demand for solar panels is bumping up the price of silver. As a result, PV solar panel prices will likely rise too. The research group at the university’s Kent Business School, wanted to test their hypothesis. They looked to see if there is a link to the price of silver, and PV solar panel production.
PV Solar panels use a lot of silver, as it is the best metal conductor of heat and electricity. In fact, each panel has about 20 grams, which is about 6% of the cost of making a panel.
The group looked to data from the London Bullion Market to observe changes to the silver price each quarter. They then noted the capacity of the installed solar base, and overall power production from 1990 to 2016. This was to check for a direct link, between the increase in solar panel demand and the price of silver.
Indeed, they found a clear correlation in a rise in the price of silver and PV panel demand. They found evidence of this in 2008 after the GFC and in 2011. This was when the rise in price of oil based energy spooked many to push for renewables.
The group came to the conclusion that if the situation continued, then governments would have to step in. This would be to provide incentive for the uptake of solar PV to continue, to offset the increasing cost.
On the other hand, the high price and demand for silver, may see greater effort to find lower cost alternatives. But we will not likely see materials that can rival it any time soon. That includes both copper and aluminium.
The upshot of the research basically confirms what many had long suspected. Now there is some proper research to base policy against, governments may be wise to factor this in their decisions.
The journal, Environmental Science and Pollution Research has published the paper, “Silver prices and solar energy production”.Source: University of Kent