If we add the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans every year, we end up with approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules or 10^18 joules). To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equivalent to: 2.7 million earthquakes of the same size as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan (2011) – 40 000 times the total energy consumption in the United States – 8 000 times the total consumption in the whole world – 40% of the energy that is required to heat the entire volume of water we have on Earth by 1°Celsius. Every square meter of our planet receives around 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation.
California is home to the largest solar power plant in the world, located in the Mojave Desert. It spans 1,000 acres. California also dominates the solar power market, with a market share of 44% in 2015. California, Arizona, and North Carolina are the top three US states for solar power, based on the amount of cumulative solar electric capacity installed. There are now nine states in the U.S. where 100% of new electrical energy comes from solar power.
More than 200,000 Americans currently work in the solar power industry. That number is expected to climb to 420,000 by 2020.
No Solar without Silver
40 tonnes of Silver is required to produce panels that would generate 1 GW of Solar Power. With this industry (solar) virtually non-existent 10 years ago, Silver demand in the Solar industry is growing at a fast clip as an alternate form of Energy.
Silver is a unique metal. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, and it’s the most reflective. These physical properties make it a highly valued industrial metal, especially when used in Solar cells.
Silver is a primary ingredient in photovoltaic cells, and 90% of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells use Silver paste. When sunlight hits the silicon cell it generates electrons. The Silver used in the cell works as a conductor to collect these electrons in order to form a useful electric current.
The Silver then transports the electricity out of the cell so it can be used. Further, the conductive nature of Silver enhances the reflection of the sunlight to improve the Energy that is collected. Therefore, if it wasn’t for Silver, Solar wouldn’t be as efficient in turning sunlight into Energy.
India is currently 100% importer of Solar parts where Silver is used, the major countries from where it is being imported are China and Japan. Taking forward the vision of our Prime Minister to produce 50 GW of Solar Energy, and producing Solar parts, Indian consumption of Silver will be all set to increase by about 2000 tonnes. This would also create large ancillary industries and ample employment opportunities.
Silver growth is only likely to increase in India in the coming years since India is growing very aggressively in the areas of Make in India, Digital India and Solar Energy. As compared to the world, India has been slow towards utilization of Silver for industrial usage with mere 16%, as compared to global usage of 51%. Though we are growing in terms of utilization of Silver in Jewellery and Silver-ware, the real boost will come with Digital India and development of domestic Solar Energy market where Silver will be used.
As it turns out, Solar Energy wouldn’t work the same way if it wasn’t for Silver.
Do we need to say Hindustan Zinc is the largest primary silver producer in the country and is all set to produce 1000 tonnes of silver in near future.
Indeed … this White Gold glitters more than Gold..!!! Silver!!!
Hindustan Zinc is India’s only and world’s leading Zinc-Lead-Silver Producer.
(Pavan Kaushik heads Corporate Communications at Hindustan Zinc)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely of the author in personal capacity.