Investors in silver should know it is a highly versatile metal with properties that make it indispensable for a variety of applications in large and growing industries, including green energy, a flourishing sector that is fueling industrial silver demand.
Silver boasts the highest electrical conductivity of any element and is the metal with the greatest thermal conductivity. So it is a key component of a vast number of products both individuals and businesses use every day, from switches and superconductors in electronic devices to antibacterial elements that make possible home water filters and pharmaceutical industry innovations.
Solar panels: Green energy is a white-hot field, and silver is a core ingredient in these technologies. The metal is an essential part of photovoltaics, in which sunlight is chemically converted into energy – the process that powers green energy products including increasingly popular solar panels.
More customers have been signing up for solar panel installations as the panels have become more affordable. This demand for green energy, in turn, is lifting silver demand. “In the photovoltaic sector, silver demand rose by 34 percent [to a record high of nearly 77 million ounces] as the number of global installations shot up” by 49 percent last year, according to the Silver Institute’s recently released World Silver Survey 2017.
Ethylene oxide: Silver catalyst is a key ingredient in the industrial production of ethylene oxide. Known as EO, this reactive chemical is used in the production of a broad range of household products, including antifreeze, polyester, paint solvents, and soaps, as well as a disinfectant for medical equipment.
With such varied applications, the need for EO has remained strong. Demand for silver in the EO field reached a record high of more than 10 million ounces last year, following a doubling in demand during the prior year, according to the World Silver Survey 2017.