Let us imagine that you owned the World’s cumulative silver production. That is, ALL the silver that has ever been produced. How much silver would that turn out to be? Well, if we are to believe David Zurbuchen’s documentation from 2006, which I do, you would have to your disposal 44 542 billion ounces. Then we add another 10 years of production, of an average of modest 600 hundred million ounces a year = 6 billion ounces. The total would be 50 042 billion ounces. Some of the silver has been lost up through the ages, and for the sake of getting an easy number to remember, we settle for 50 billion ounces (1 oz = 31,103 gram). Cummulative Silver production
Not with a scream
Anyhow, let us stretch our imagination into the realms of fairytales. Let us imagine that you acknowledge that the world is heating up, and will become uninhabitable. You see that your immense wealth would not be of any use to your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Because your genes will join the ranks of the dinosaurs with the rest of Humankind. We are extinct! We have left the universe, not with a scream, but with a whimper. Billions upon billions of ounces of pure silver rest in underground vaults as a legacy of our stupidity.
A Person of Wisdom
However, since you are not stupid, but a person of eco-friendly wisdom, you have decided to use your 50 billion ounces of silver to produce solar-panels. You hope that these panels will replace the burning of oil and coal which are releasing waste amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and causing global warming.
The Impossible Scenario
However, the above mentioned scenario is of course impossible. In real life the competition for the World’s silver resources is fierce. The photovoltaic industry (the solar panel industry) is a very small player. 7 GWh of Photovoltaic capacity were connected to the grid in Europe in 2014, and globally 40 GWh. That is a long, long way from what is necessary to bring green energy to the forefront especially when we take into consideration the global output of electricity from all sources, gas, oil, coal, wind, solar, and hydro, is 23 536 500 GWh. (2014)
Not all the Silver in the World
will be enough to make enough solar panels to replace fossil fuels. If solar energy is ever going to be an important future source of energy, the solar panel industry will have to make the change to aluminum as an inexpensive substitute for silver. That, or even better solutions, to harness the power of the sun.
International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook Factsheet
3 percent of $100 billion
Update from Reuters: November 8, 2017 - Peak oil?
A Reuters analysis of clean energy investments and forecasts by oil majors, along with exclusive interviews with top oil executives, reveal mostly token investments in alternative energy. Today, renewable power projects get about 3 percent of $100 billion in combined annual spending by the five biggest oil firms, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.