Looking ahead, total global installed photovoltaic power capacity is projected to increase by about 150% to 605 gigawatts by 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“Ten years ago, silver demand going into solar panels was just a blip, a rounding error,” Mitchell Krebs, chief executive of silver miner Coeur Mining, told the Financial Times. “Solar looks like it will become a larger and larger part of the overall demand picture for silver and become something significant.”

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However, increased technological efficiency has reduced the amount of silver required in newer solar panels. The amount of silver used in solar cells has been reduced by 5% to 6% every year. Nevertheless, Andreas Liebheit, head of the photovoltaic business at Heraeus, the German technology group, argued that the diminished requirements have been offset by growth in the overall market of 20% per year.

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