The renewable energy power revolution driving a fast uptake of solar rooftop panels and lithium-ion batteries to store electricity is creating new uses for metals which have long languished in stupor as reported by ABC News
Lithium and silver have been so far the star performers with both elements experiencing big price jumps in recent months. Peter Strachan from StockAnalysis stated that the solar industry was providing a modern-day large-scale industrial use for the metals. He also said the circuitry for the PV cells are printed using nanoparticles of silver which is a very good conductor and used in very tiny amounts.
The demand for solar technology has made lithium prices go up in the past two years, while silver has also had a good run which jumped 46% since January. Silver dubbed as the poor man’s gold has outperformed gold this year. Mr Stratchansaid demand for silver in this new application was far outstripping its performance in the past. He also added that solar technologies were also driving demand for other metals too which includes manganese, graphite and cobalt, thus he thinks that prices of these other metals will start to rise by next year and beyond.
This rise in price is a boom to Western Australian miners like Macpherson Resources, which has a silver deposit just 8 km from Kalgoorlie. Chairman Ashon Parehk said the rise in price provided enough stimulus to the Nimbus mine to get off the ground.
With all of these positive results in the supply and demand, there’s also a downside, some analyst warned that if demand pushed prices too much, many manufacturers may look to cheaper substitutes.
Image credit: ABC News