The share of silver in PV module costs has risen by around 5% in recent months to account for approximately 10% of the total, according to U.S.-based analyst Matt Watson.
“With PV module costs in the neighborhood of $0.018-$0.019/watt and silver representing around 10% of the overall module cost structure, and module and cell prices still declining, finding a means to lower the silver cost component is going to become an increasingly difficult task,” Watson told pv magazine. “Over the past 20 years, silver has averaged an 8.31% year-on-year growth in prices, which is greater than the current rate of design thrifting. This means lowering that silver $/watt component is going to be very difficult.”
Watson noted that silver is now sold at around $26 per ounce, but said that prices will continue to climb.
“When you study the silver market, electronics demand, led by the Solar PV markets, all have increasingly larger forecast demand,” he said, noting that silver is becoming more of an industrial metal with each passing year. “The projected solar PV module silver cost per watt produced is leveling out going forward as a result of these silver price climbs … As other cell and module costs decline, silver will consume an even larger percentage of the overall module cost as these trends continue.”
Watson, a former executive at U.S.-based CIGS solar module manufacturer SoloPower, is currently the CEO and founder of California-based Precious Metals Commodity Management LLC. He said he believes that the PV industry will probably not move away quickly from the use of silver, despite the recent jump in silver prices.
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