One of the persistent themes of the world economy over the next decade or more will be the sustained growth of the market for renewable energy sources.
Many investors may not realize that silver is one of the crucial components of the photovoltaic (PV) cells that make up solar panels. It cannot easily or economically be substituted for in this technology.
Silver is used in a number of industries aside from bullion and has a surprising number of high-tech applications. It is found in every cell phone, helps power digital screens like the one you're reading on, and is needed for many manufacturing scenarios in electronics and medicine.
Not only is silver's use in the tech sector a major factor of total demand, but its role in the manufacture of solar panels shouldn't be overlooked. Solar energy is gradually—but steadily—becoming an increasingly important part of the economy, not just in the U.S. but around the world.
Both China and India, two of the world's fastest-growing economies, have already made massive investments in solar technology that stretch over the next five years or so.
Similar investments have been made in Germany, Great Britain, and several U.S. states. Another incentive for this technology to spread are the decreasing costs associated with producing solar power.
You can find a comprehensive overview of the dramatic growth of the solar-energy industry here.
Silver's use in solar panels is based on the metal's physical and chemical properties. It is the most conductive element known in existence, which is why it is so important in electronics and PV cells.
In addition to buoying silver demand, the greater utilization of solar energy should also boost the need for other commodities like aluminum, copper, and steel. This could have major implications for the bubbling trade wars between the United States and China over imports of aluminum, steel, and even intellectual property.
The supply-demand dynamics for silver would seem to point toward higher prices as the energy market shifts from fossil fuels to renewables.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.
Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.