Have you ever wondered what a solar panel is made from? Or how it can convert the sun’s rays into electricity? The answer is in the metals and minerals used to create the panel itself. We’ve highlighted four of the most important minerals and metals used in solar panels, and how each of them help to create solar energy.
Copper: used in the wiring of solar panels and certain types of cells, copper is an abundant metal found primarily in the Cadia Valley in NSW, which contains one of the largest deposits on Earth (7.8m metric tonnes).
Silicon: another abundant material that constitutes more than 28 percent of the Earth’s crust, silicon is created from sand, rock and quartz, and is used in the production of photovoltaic cells, which absorb the sunlight in solar panels.
Silver: Silver works as a conductor to form a useful electric current and enhances the reflection of the sunlight to improve the energy that’s collected. NSW is a major producer of silver, particularly at Lode on the Broken Hill Line, which accounts for 37% of a total 35k metric tonnes.
Zinc: some newer photovoltaic technology uses zinc oxide to achieve higher solar-cell efficiency via increased energy conversion. It is plentiful in NSW, with nearly 30 metric tonnes identified.
Learn more about how high-tech metals and minerals are helping to create a high-tech, connected and environmentally sustainable future by checking out the High-Tech Metals Map.