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Silver Prices Are Soaring! PV Cell Makers Meet New Cost Threats

published: 2024-05-21 16:34

Recently, global silver prices have continued to rise, with the average silver price having risen from $5.33 per gram ($23.49 per ounce) in mid-May 2023 to the current (May 20) price of $7.53 per gram ($32.31 per ounce), which is an all-time high price and still rising.

The world silver association (TSI) latest report pointed out that in recent years, silver mineral supply growth lags far behind the demand growth, in the new photovoltaic energy and semiconductor industry with silver demand to maintain strong growth, silver has lasted for three years there is a supply gap.

The association's data show that in 2022-2023, the global silver supply was 31.25 million tons and 31.44 million tons, up 0.8% and 0.6%, of which the production of mineral silver remained at about 25.83 million tons, almost no increment.

The association's data show that in 2022-2023, global silver supply will be 31.25 million tons and 31.44 million tons, up 0.8% and 0.6% year-on-year, respectively, with mined silver production remaining at around 25.83 million tons, with virtually no incremental growth.

Against this backdrop, TSI said that global silver demand is expected to grow steadily in 2024, continuing the trend of oversupply.

Silver prices bullish as silver use for photovoltaic and other needs continues to rise

From the point of view of the demand structure, the current global silver in physical investment and industrial production of the amount of each accounted for 50%, while in China, the proportion of silver for industrial production can be up to 80%, of which nearly 40% of the photovoltaic silver, about 40% of the electrical components with silver, the remaining 20% of the brazing and electronic components with silver.

In terms of application structure, silver for photovoltaics has been the main source of growth in industrial demand for silver in recent years. tsi data shows that in 2022 and 2023, photovoltaics will use 3,672 tons and 6,017 tons of silver, respectively, and the near-64% growth in demand in 2023 makes up for the contraction in the amount of silver used by other industrial sectors.

The agency expects PV silver use to rise to 7,217 tons in 2024, up 20% year-on-year.

It is understood that the photovoltaic silver paste is one of the core auxiliary materials of the solar cell link, the two sides of the battery need to be generated by high-purity silver powder silver paste, after the screen printing process so as to obtain the conductive properties, and the silver paste in the cell link in the non-silicon costs accounted for the highest percentage.

With the current photovoltaic high-efficiency cell from p-type to n-type (TopCon, HJT, etc.) iteration, the demand for silver paste has also risen exponentially, in which the TOPCon cell monolithic silver paste consumption increased by nearly 80%, the HJT cell monolithic silver consumption nearly doubled.

TSI expects that in 2024, the global demand for p-type cell silver paste from 4,000 tons to 2,600 tons, while TopCon cell silver paste usage will grow from 1,700 tons to nearly 4,000 tons, and HJT cell silver paste usage will increase from 600 tons to 1,000 tons, and the demand for p-type and n-type will continue the trend of the two sides.

Global demand for silver exceeds supply in 2024, which will allow for greater resilience in silver prices in a demand-driven market, and TSI conservatively estimates that silver prices will fluctuate in a range of $23 to $30 per ounce during the year.

FxPro platform senior market analyst Alex Kuptsikevich said the recent target price is $33 per ounce, silver's long-term trend is also biased towards bullish, silver prices could rise sharply to the historic high of $50.

With the rise in silver prices, in order to reduce costs, many photovoltaic companies are also grasping the research and development of products to reduce the amount of silver paste, AIKO Chairman Chen Gang said: “Silver prices will certainly continue to rise, last year the average price of silver in the more than $ 4,000 / kg, and now rose to more than $ 7,000 / kg, has risen by 40%, doubling is not at all surprising. “

In order to further remove the silver and reduce the cost, AIKO develops the BC type module, focuses on the 0BB (no main grid) technology, and uses the copper electrode, and pioneers the first non-silverized metal coating and other technologies, with a view to solving the cost problems in this segment.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report earlier this month showing that world cleantech investment will surge by 70% in 2023. Among them, investment in photovoltaic modules amounted to $80 billion, more than twice as much as in 2022, accounting for about 40% of last year's total investment.

In light of this trend, Sprott, an investment management firm specializing in precious metals, also believes that demand for silver in the PV industry will continue to grow, with demand for metallic silver from PV module manufacturers expected to grow by nearly 170% to 273 million ounces by 2030 - about one-fifth of the total amount of silver.

Source: PV-Tech

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