Casey research has a new article on silver it's quite extensive.
Look Out Silver, Here Comes Solar Demand
By Alena Bialevich and Jeff Clark
In early July, Japan set a premium price for solar energy that was three times the rate of conventional power. This meant utility companies would be paid three times more for electricity sourced from solar. It's widely expected that the premium will ignite the use of solar power – and solar uses a lot of silver.
Silver Demand from PV Panels
As you may know, silver is used in photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate solar power. A typical solar panel uses a fair amount of the metal – roughly two-thirds of an ounce (20 grams). To put that in perspective, a cellphone contains around 200 to 300 milligrams (a milligram weighs about as much as a grain of sand). A laptop contains 750 milligrams to 1.25 grams.
Photovoltaic technology is relatively young, but each year its use is growing rapidly. Just since 2000, the amount of silver consumed by solar-panel makers has risen an average of 50% per year. Demand grew from one million ounces in 2002 to 60 million ounces in 2011. Last year demand from the PV industry represented almost 11% of total industrial demand for the metal (excluding jewelry). According to statistics from CPM Group, demand grew by 11.2 million ounces, the strongest volume growth of all major sources (jewelry and electronics). And this was before the Japanese announcement was made.
I will get much more excited when PV solar is in demand from efficiency increases and time to recoup cost than I will from government subsidy. If can get the efficiency up from 15% to 50% we may be able to start phasing out fossil fuels to some degree.
“I will get much more excited when PV solar is in demand from efficiency increases and time to recoup cost than I will from government subsidy. …”
You might find the following account of Stanford Ovshinsky to be quite interesting:
en Wikipedia org/wiki/Stanford_Ovshinsky (replace spaces with a period to access)
Ovshinsky was a self-taught scientist, who had no formal training, and as such was devoid of the hide-bound strictures of academia. Many of his inventions, including those in the area of solar energy, went against the prevailing attempts to improve PV output by new discoveries in crystalline structures with PV characteristics.
Ovshinsky, on the other hand, investigated amorphous structures with PV output. He was unable to get any US companies interested in his ideas on photovoltaics. Sharp in Japan introduced his PV cells into hand-held calculators. These cells were produced in a continuous manner, much the way shrink-wrap and similar roll materials are made. There has been no recent follow-up on his company, Energy Conversion Devices which developed NiMH batteries. General Motors was to have built a plant in Ohio to produce NiMH batteries for their early electric vehicle, initially called the Impact (?), which then acquired a name change to the EV-1. All were destroyed when GM recalled the leased vehicles in another government boondoggle to throw taxpayer money into the “green” energy field.