Around the year 2000, industrial demand for silver (excluding photography and jewelry) accounted for just over 30% of total demand. In 2011, it had climbed to 54% and is predicted to rise to 74% by 2020. This is a stunning change in demand dynamic. The most startling new use for silver has been in the field of solar paneling. It takes 80 tonnes of silver to produce a gigawatt (GW) of electricity. In 2000, there was essentially no demand for silver for solar paneling. Today, approximately 13GW of electricity are produced globally via solar panels.
To put these numbers into context, China and the U.S. plan to increase their solar capacity from around five GW at present to 20GW by 2020, while India plans to increase its capacity from essentially scratch to 20GW by 2020. Assuming another 20GW-40GW from the rest of the world, and silver demand from solar paneling alone is set rise to 20-30 per cent of total demand by 2020.
Solar paneling, however, is just one of the many new uses for silver that will drive demand. There are many others. Silver usage in medicine is only just starting. Silver has unique anti-bacterial properties. Its use in the health industry is spreading from silver-impregnated materials as a protection against MRSA to use in food hygiene and water purification. In 2000, the amount of silver demand from medical, water and food hygiene totaled 340 tonnes. By 2010, this demand had expanded to 1,062 tonnes. According to the VM group, demand of 2,741 tonnes is forecast by 2020, representing almost 30% of the expected total demand for silver. . .View Full Article