Big Oil may not be too happy with what’s going on, but Big Copper is all for it. A new report commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) finds that the growing market for EVs will significantly increase demand for copper over the next decade.
According to Copper Intensity in the Electrification of Transport and the Integration of Energy Storage, EVs use a substantial amount of copper in their batteries, and in the windings and rotors used in electric motors. A single car can have up to six kilometers of copper wiring. The metal is also required for busbars, used to connect modules and cells in battery packs, and in charging infrastructure.
Whereas an ICE vehicle requires up to 23 kg of copper, the report found that a hybrid vehicle uses 40 kg, a PHEV uses 60 kg, and a battery EV 83 kg. A battery-electric bus can use a whopping 224-369 kg of Cu, depending on the size of the battery. Solar photovoltaic systems also rely on considerable quantities of copper.
“Copper has the highest conductivity of any non-precious metal, and plays an important role in all energy production, but it is particularly important for future sustainable technology applications such as electric vehicles,” said Colin Bennett, Market Analysis and Outreach, ICA. “Copper is itself a sustainable material, as it is 100% recyclable without loss of properties.”
“The demand for electric vehicles is forecast to increase significantly over the next ten years,” said Franco Gonzalez, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx, who co-authored the study. “Our research predicts this increase will raise copper demand for electric cars and buses from 185,000 tons in 2017 to 1.74 million tons in 2027. That’s a ninefold increase. On top of this, each electric vehicle charger will add 0.7 kg of copper and if they are fast chargers, they can add up to 8 kg of copper each.”