Globally, it’s estimated that about 788,000 tons of silicone products annually are purchased for use in the energy sector in renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines, as well as in traditional energy sources like oil, gas, and electricity. The below video from CES – Silicones Europe shows why silicones are used to improve energy efficiency and power the transition to renewable energy:
- Activities related to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology account for about 2.5 million jobs globally
- The wind energy sector employs more than 1 million people globally, with employment numbers expected to double by 2030
- In 2015, oil and gas accounted for 80% of global energy consumption
Silicones are used as conductive adhesives and encapsulants in the manufacturing of solar panels. Their resistance to UV radiation and temperature changes and superior transparency improve panel efficiency, while their mechanical and chemical properties reduce repair costs and ensure panels last longer.
Silicones contribute to cost reductions in the solar sector, because they have:
- Low reactivity
- Temperature and weather resistance
- Neutral cure (avoids corrosive by-products)
- Adhesive quality
Silicones are also used as bonding agents and lubricants in the manufacturing of wind turbines.
- Silicones increase the durability and weather resistance of rotor blades
- By improving durability and strength, silicones facilitate larger wind turbines with greater energy potential
- Silicone lubricants help reduce turbine maintenance costs and maximize energy efficiency
In the oil and gas industry, silicones are the most widely used antifoam agents because they:
- Allow for higher extraction rates of oil and gas, reducing water usage and increasing efficiency
- Contribute to maintaining throughput and production in wells, rigs, refineries, and in transportation of oil
- Deliver savings by preventing oil leakage and downstream equipment damage
Silicones are used as insulators in both underground cables used for transmission and distribution of electricity, and in transformers.
- Silicones extend the life of underground cables by up to 20 years, helping to avoid more expensive options such as replacement or rejuvenation
Silicone use in transformers increase the durability of electricity transfers, and help prevent power outages.