In 2015, of the 1,170 million ounces (Moz) of physical silver consumed, 589Moz were used for
industrial fabrication, equivalent to 50% of total physical demand. Two of the most everyday
industrial uses for silver are as a catalyst for the production of ethylene oxide and in
photovoltaic (PV) cells (more commonly known as solar panels). Ethylene oxide (EO) is a vital
raw material for the production of ethylene glycol, which in turn is used in the production of
antifreeze coolants and polyethylene terephthalate (PET); a resin of the polyester family used in
fibres for clothing as well as plastic bottles and food containers. These two expanding industries
will drive increases in EO capacity and, correspondingly, demand for silver.
On the other hand, the number of solar panel installations is forecasted to rise steadily in the
coming years. A combination of carbon emissions legislation, government policies and a
decrease in the cost per gigawatt (GW) of electricity generated using PV will increase the
number of solar panel and therefore silver demand.