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Solar panel silver demand to remain near 107 million oz in 2018: CPM Group

Washington — Silver demand from the global solar panel industry is expected to remain near 107 million oz in 2018, despite the cautionary outlook from the photovoltaic industry, the CPM Group said Tuesday.

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"Given the industry's caution at the moment, we are holding our silver use projections for this application flat this year, although we want to emphasize that demand could rise sharply," CPM commodity analyst Yvonne Li said in a conference call.

Though the photovoltaic industry has been cautious in its outlook, demand for solar power generation has continued to exceed expectations, Li said in a presentation marking the release of the group's 2018 Silver Yearbook.

Silver demand from the photovoltaic sectors has exploded from about 20 million oz in 2008 to about 107 million oz last year and is expected to remain at that level in 2018, Li said.

The strongest demand last year came from China, up 53% from the year prior, while US demand rose 30% from the prior year.

A key driver in Chinese solar panel demand came from the installation and activation of more than 500 MW in solar power capacity on December 29, and the removal of grace periods for solar rooftop projects by the country's National Development and Reform Commission, she said.

"This year, silver demand from solar panels is expected to be driven by demand growth in Europe and China, as well as meaningful growth from Latin America," Li said.

PV installations in China are expected to "remain at elevated levels" as the country tries to move away from fossil-fuel power sources like coal-fired power plants.

By 2020, nearly 50% of China's total power generation is expected to come from non-fossil fuel sources. That is expected to grow to 70%-80% by 2050, Li said.

"These trends and goals to drive the PV market in China will increase demand for silver use in solar panels," Li said.

--Nick Jonson,

--Edited by Derek Sands,