What Is Silver Used For – And What Do Investors Need to Know?

The Spotlight

10 minutes read

Mar 7, 2024

silver bars and an excavator on the dark blue background

Found in everything from adhesives and medical devices to tableware and industrial fabrication, the future of silver will be driven by its demand for industrial uses. Here's the lowdown.

How does the saying go…”If you’re not first you’re last?” 🥈

While silver may play second fiddle to gold in the sports world, you might be shocked as to just how important silver is in society today.

From bullion coins and 5G technologies to refrigeration and capacitors, the industrial uses for silver are wide-ranging.

This makes the metal a great choice for investors! 🤩

In this SPOTLIGHT, we delve into the key industrial uses of silver and ask what the future holds for the precious metal with the silver supply and demand forecast for 2023 and beyond.

Industrial uses of silver: what is silver used for today?

So just how widely used is silver already? 🤔 Let’s break down some of today’s most popular silver industrial uses:

  • 🔌 Conductive. Silver is highly conductive, making it an essential component in some of your favourite tech and electronics today such as TVs, smartphones and hybrid vehicles.
  • ☀️ Solar. It also plays a significant role in the solar energy industry as it is used in photovoltaic cells to convert that glorious sunlight into all-important electricity for our day-to-day needs and an ever-increasing number of charging stations for electric vehicles.
  • 💉 Medical. The antibacterial properties of silver make it highly valuable in the medical industry, whether for simple wound dressings or a more complex medical device such as catheters and endotracheal tubes.
  • 🥔 Food. Silver is also used in water treatment and food preservation due to its antimicrobial properties which have been shown to kill bacteria, fungi and certain viruses. That's why refrigeration units often use silver.
  • 🚘 Alloys. Silver alloys and silver solders are mixtures of silver with other metals, most notably copper. The addition of these other metals to silver then increases its strength, durability, and resistance to tarnish, which is why the ‘good cutlery’ in the kitchen always looks so shiny! 🥄

What is the silver soldering method?

Silver soldering (sometimes called silver brazing) is the joining of two or more components using solder, a fusible metal alloy made up of silver and another metal that melts together under heat to create a joint.

The filler metal has a melting point exceeding 420°C and is drawn into the joint through capillary action.

This creates those smooth, leak-tight, electrically conductive and corrosion-resistant joints that never go out of style.

Silver usage in day-to-day life

electric car charging

1. Electric vehicles

Silver is a crucial component of electric vehicles (EVs).

The amount of silver used in each EV can vary between 25–50g, depending on the model. while hybrid vehicles require 18–34g.

The excellent electrical and thermal conductivity of silver makes it an ideal material for batteries in the automotive industry.

Silver is even used for car windshields. Coating a windscreen with silver reflects heat and allows the glass to defrost quickly.

The huge advances that we’re seeing in the decarbonization of the automotive industry rely quite heavily on the availability of silver.

As more electric vehicles are sold, the demand for silver increases.

The automotive industry is expected to require more than 90 million ounces (Moz) of silver annually by 2025. 🤯

workers installing solar panels

2. Photovoltaics, solar energy and LED

One of the major contributors to the ever-growing demand for silver is the photovoltaic industry.

Silver is a crucial component in photovoltaic cells, the devices that turn solar energy into electricity.

The reflective properties of silver mean it's also used in LEDs.

Applied as a layer on the back of the LED chip, the silver then redirects any stray light away in the desired direction.

Additionally, silver can be used to coat the surfaces of the LED's submount and reflector which enhances its reflective capabilities.

The increasing adoption of solar energy as a renewable power source has led to a surge in the industrial uses of silver.

In 2023, the photovoltaic sector used around 19 million ounces of silver, driven by the expansion of solar panel infrastructure worldwide.

China installed a record-breaking 230GW wind and solar installations in 2023, more than the USA has ever installed.

China's silver demand could be the catalyst for even higher industrial silver demand in 2024 as other countries try to catch up.

As with both electric vehicles and solar power, you can see just the crucial role silver now plays in any renewable energy future.

Can I buy VAT-free silver?

In short, yes.

With GOLD AVENUE, buying silver becomes a hassle-free experience, especially since you can opt for VAT-free purchases when you choose to keep your silver in storage within a freeport. 🏭

Think of a freeport as a sort of international duty-free shopping haven, but for your investments. It's a smart, seamless way to manage your assets, all while ensuring your investments are secure and accessible.

Check out our VAT-free silver products.

3. Photographic silver 📷

taking picture of a woman

Silver has been used by black-and-white photographers for more than a century.

Used as part of the gelatin silver process, photographers soak the film in a solution called a developer, where the chemical reacts with the altered silver halide crystals, turning them into metallic silver, and making the image visible.

This method, known as the most prevalent technique, is employed for the development of black-and-white photographs.

4. Water purification 🚰

a scientis purifying water

Every year, millions of water purifiers containing silver are sold worldwide. The silver component functions as an anti-bacterial agent in the filters, enabling them to remove harmful bacteria, chlorine, particles, and odors from the water.

When combined with oxygen, silver serves as a potent sanitizer that can enhance or flat-out replace other disinfectant techniques. Silver ions have been integrated into water treatment systems in various settings, including hospitals, community water systems, and recreational facilities like swimming pools and spas. 

5. Air conditioning 💨

air conditioning

Silver allergen removal and air purifying filter captures allergens such as pollen and dust mites in air conditioning units.

6. Conductive ink ✒️

conductive ink

Conductive ink is an ink that results in a printed object which conducts electricity. Carbon and silver inks offer a variety of electronic printing end uses. 

7. Jewellery, silverware and other decorative items 💍


While the industrial use of silver is growing, the demand for silver in traditional uses such as jewelry and silverware has been declining somewhat. In 2023, the demand for silver jewelry is projected to fall by 22%, primarily driven by a decrease in demand from India.

Despite this decline, the global demand for silver jewelry is expected to stabilize 🙌, driven by demand from other regions.

The growing demand for silver in industrial applications

There is now a rather obvious growing demand for silver in the industrial sector, and it’s been steadily increasing in recent years. 📈

Did you know?

  • In 2022, global demand for silver reached a record high of 1.24 billion ounces, representing an 18% increase from the previous year.
  • This surge in demand created a significant supply deficit, with a shortfall of 237.7 million ounces in 2022.
  • The industrial use of silver is expected to continue growing in the coming years, primarily driven by investments in renewable energy, consumer electronics, and further infrastructure development.

🩶 Why invest in silver?

Investing or saving in silver can be a good way to diversify your portfolio, depending on your own personal savings goals and strategies.

Here's why physical can be a great investment choice:

  • It’s affordable. Silver is more affordable than gold: you can buy more silver for the same price;
  • It’s in demand! Thanks to its use in green tech like solar panels, both industry and investors want silver. Demand grew by 18% in 2022 and a report by the Silver Institute says demand is expected to continue to increase "chiefly due to rising end-use in the green economy".
  • Great diversification option. Physical silver, like gold, is often seen as a protection against inflation and economic uncertainties, and is therefore used as a way to diversify an investment portfolio.
  • Sustainable tech superstar. As an adaptable metal, silver has some exceptional conducive and reflective properties which are key components in sustainable technology such as EVs and solar panels.

⭐ What's in store for silver in 2024?

Global silver demand is expected to reach 1.2 billion ounces in 2024, which would mark the second-highest level on record, the Silver Institute says.

“We think silver will have a terrific year, especially in terms of demand,” Michael DiRienzo, executive director of the Silver Institute told CNBC.

He anticipates that the price of silver could soar to $30 per ounce, reaching a peak not seen in a decade, as per the figures provided by LSEG.

Boost your silver savings now to tap into the potential rise in prices!


The Spotlight

The free newsletter helping you understand how to build your wealth.


Get the Spotlight

The free newsletter helping you understand how to build your wealth.