How Silver Is Important in Solar Panel Production

April 7, 2021

Silver plays a crucial role in the development of solar panels and cells to help turn the sun’s energy into electricity. An estimated 80.5 million ounces of silver were used for solar rooftops in Phoenix, AZ and the solar electricity field in general in the most recent year for which there was complete information. This amounts to a significant portion of the total physical silver refined annually (approximately 8 percent).

Here’s an overview of what you should know about solar panels and silver, and the importance of silver in the solar industry.

An overview

When sunlight shines on a silicon cell, it creates a reaction that generates electrons. Silver paste is used in solar photovoltaic cells because it collects those electrons and reacts with them to form an electric current. Those pastes then help to conduct that gathered electricity away from the solar panel so the electricity can either be used or stored for later use.

Silver also has outstanding resistivity, one of the main reasons why it’s used in this application so frequently. This increases the amount of potential sunlight the silver can capture, and the amount of total power that will be collected inside a solar cell. This is one of the reasons why certain alternatives to silver like copper and nickel phosphide simply do not stack up in this application—they lack that same ability. Without silver, the panels would not be nearly as efficient in their ability to turn sunlight into energy that can be used for various electrical applications.

Most solar panels will use approximately 20 grams of silver, or about two thirds of an ounce. That amount of silver may sound small, but even a small amount yields big results. A cell phone will only have about 200 to 300 milligrams, and a computer will have only about a gram. When you consider the capabilities of those devices, you will then get a better understanding of the energy capabilities the silver provides to solar panels.

Demand for silver is only expected to increase as the demand for solar power applications also rises. More and more households throughout the United States are making the switch to solar, especially in regions like the Southwest, so the amount of silver that’s dedicated toward solar power will continue to increase in the coming years.

Silver has traditionally been the lowest-priced precious metal in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. In fact, silver probably has the most utilitarian value of any precious metal on the market and goes beyond just being a monetary metal or a source of investing or storing wealth. The use of silver in solar power devices is just one example of how the industrial world has embraced the metal and the kind of potential it holds for the future.

Interested in learning more about how silver is used in solar power applications, such as solar rooftops in Phoenix, AZ? We encourage you to contact our team at Aneva Solar for answers to any questions you have.

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