Silver is a PV panel material; it has a vital role in the production of solar cells that produce electricity. Each solar cell requires just a few milligrams of silver; however, with the increase in solar energy use worldwide, the industry could exhaust its silver reserves by 2050. Currently, silver is the most critical metal, posing price and supply risks when PV production expands. In 2020, PV will use approximately 12.7% of annual silver production. Many previous studies have highlighted that the current estimated silver consumption is too high to allow sustainable terawatt-scale production.
The use of silver is, as mentioned before, vital for this industry. The reason being that silver is not only the most electricity-conducting metal on the planet but also has the highest thermal conductivity.
Silver is turned into a paste, which is later used for busbars and contacts as an electrically conductive material. They conduct the electricity that is generated in the silicon layer using solar radiation.
Silver is so crucial that it can account for up to 6 percent of the total cost of building each unit of the panel. The average panel of approximately 2 square meters can use up to 20 grams of silver. New research anticipates that the cost of silver’s use in building each solar panel unit will increase by over 10 percent by the end of 2020. Also noteworthy, the growing cost of its contribution to the panels could greatly outweigh its expense percentage per unit with any other industrial use of silver in the future.