Silver supply risk analysis for the solar sector

Leena Grandell (Corresponding Author), Andrea Thorenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The anthropogenic silver cycle shows the global material flows of silver on an annual basis. Beginning with mine supply the silver flows in various end use sectors. It is either stored as part of the above ground silver reserves or gets consumed and recycled or dissipates on landfills or with sewage. The article discusses supply-demand scenarios of silver. The study is methodically based on an analysis of resource specific factors like exploration rates, reserves and resources and regional distribution of exploration areas.Among the numerous application areas for silver the one with the greatest growth potential is discussed in detail. Solar energy sector is a fast growing area which is analysed quantitatively in detail to obtain information on potential future bottlenecks in material availability. Due to its' high electrical conductivity silver is used in silicon photovoltaic technology and Grätzel cells to form the electrical contacts. In concentrated solar power applications silver is the material of choice as the coating of the mirror because of its' high optical reflectivity. Both concerns about climate change as well as questions related to energy resources and energy security stress the importance of renewable energy technologies. This has resulted in several future scenarios with partly very ambitious goals for the construction of the new energy infrastructure. The scenarios are discussed in the light of known silver resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-165
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Concentrated solar power
  • criticality assessment
  • photovoltaics
  • silver reserves
  • solar sector


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