More Than Precious: Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)
Long known as a precious metal, silver in solar and EV technologies will redefine its role and importance to a greener economy.
Silver’s Role in the New Energy Era (Part 3 of 3)
Silver is one of the first metals that humans discovered and used. Its extensive use throughout history has linked its name to its monetary value. However, as we have advanced technologically, so have our uses for silver. In the future, silver will see a surge in demand from solar and electric vehicle (EV) technologies.
Part 3 of the Silver Series comes to us from Endeavour Silver, and it outlines silver’s role in the new energy era and how it is more than just a precious metal.
A Sterling Reputation: Silver’s History in Technologies
Silver along with gold, copper, lead and iron, was one of the first metals known to humankind. Archaeologists have uncovered silver coins and objects dating from before 4,000 BC in Greece and Turkey. Since then, governments and jewelers embraced its properties to mint currency and craft jewelry.
This historical association between silver and money is recorded across multiple languages. The word silver itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon language, seolfor, which itself comes from ancient Germanic silabar.
Silver’s chemical symbol, “Ag”, is an abbreviation of the Latin word for silver, argentum. The Latin word originates from argunas, a Sanskrit word which means shining. The French use argent as the word for money and silver. Romans bankers and silver traders carried the name argentarius.
While silver’s monetary meanings still stand today, there have been hints of its use beyond money throughout history. For centuries, many cultures used silver containers and wares to store wine, water, and food to prevent spoilage.
During bouts of bubonic plague in Europe, children of wealthy families sucked on silver spoons to preserve their health, which gave birth to the phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth.”
Medieval doctors invented silver nitrate used to treat ulcers and burns, a practice that continues to this day. In the 1900s, silver found further application in healthcare. Doctors used to administer eye drops containing silver to newborns in the United States. During World War I, combat medics, doctors, and nurses would apply silver sutures to cover deep wounds.
Silver’s shimmer also made an important material in photography up until the 1970s. Silver’s reflectivity of light made it popular in mirror and building windows.
Now, a new era is rediscovering silver’s properties for the next generation of technology, making the metal more than precious.
Silver in the New Energy Era: Solar and EVs
Silver’s shimmering qualities foreshadowed its use in renewable technologies. Among all metals, silver has the highest electrical conductivity, making it an ideal metal for use in solar cells and the electronic components of electric vehicles.
Silver in Solar Photovoltaics
Conductive layers of silver paste within the cells of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell help to conduct the electricity within the cell. When light strikes a PV, the conductors absorb the energy and electrons are set free.
Silver’s conductivity carries and stores the free electrons efficiently, maximizing the energy output of a solar cell. According to one study from the University of Kent, a typical solar panel can contain as much as 20 grams of silver.
As the world adopts solar photovoltaics, silver could see dramatic demand coming from this form of renewable energy.
Silver in Electric Vehicles
Silver’s conductivity and corrosion resistance makes its use in electronics critical, and electric vehicles are no exception. Virtually every electrical connection in a vehicle uses silver.
Silver is a critical material in the automotive sector, which uses over 55 million ounces of the metal annually. Auto manufacturers apply silver to the electrical contacts in powered seats and windows and other automotive electronics to improve conductivity.
A Silver Intensive Future
A green future will require metals and will redefine the role for many of them. Silver is no exception. Long known as a precious metal, silver also has industrial applications metal for an eco-friendly future.
The History and Evolution of the Video Games Market
Everything from Pong to the rise of mobile gaming and AR/VR. Learn about the $100 billion video games market in this giant infographic.
Before the heroics of Super Mario and Lara Croft captured our imaginations, video games were primarily used on an academic basis.
In the 1950s, scientists built the first video games as instructional tools or to demonstrate the capabilities of new technologies. Academics tested out rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence on games like tic-tac-toe or chess, while showcasing their findings to the public at events like the Canadian National Exhibition or the Festival of Britain. It wasn’t until the incorporation of newly-invented technologies like transistors or random access memory (RAM) that the cost and size of these computers went down.
By the 1970s, video games were ready for prime time commercialization. The first arcades were opened, compelling games started to hit the market, and tactile features like joysticks made them accessible even to the most basic user.
The rest is history – and the total market for gaming is now worth close to $100 billion today.
The Evolution of the Video Games Market
The following infographic comes to us from GAMR, the world’s first video game technology ETF.
It details the history and evolution of the video games market, the emergence of mobile, and the fast-growing Asian sector.
Today, there are over two billion gamers worldwide – and they all play across a wide variety of genres and platforms.
Despite stereotypes, gamers come from all walks of life. About 59% of gamers are males, and 41% are females – and the average age of a gamer is 38 years old.
The Future of the Video Games Market
While the mobile market is all the rage today for publishers, the future of gaming is likely to be driven largely by augmented and virtual reality.
International Data Corporation, for example, estimates that worldwide revenues for the total augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 181.3% over the 2015-2020 forecast period. Gaming hardware and content would make up a significant portion of this projection, but other types of content such as movies, entertainment, and advertising will also capitalize on the emergence of AR/VR.
For now, VR/AR headsets are currently only accessible to high-end users, and there is also a limited supply of content for users to enjoy. Only time will tell if the technology will mature enough to meet the public’s expectations.
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