JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A growing market for electric vehicles (EVs) will significantly boost demand for copper over the next decade, from 185 000 t this year to 1.74-million tonnes in 2027, a study commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) has found.
“That’s a ninefold increase. On top of this, each EV charger will add 700 g of copper and if they are fast chargers, they can add up to 8 kg of copper each,” said research firm IDTechEx senior technology analyst Franco Gonzalez.
The study, titled ‘Copper Intensity in the Electrification of Transport and the Integration of Energy Storage’, conducted by IDTechEx, further showed that a single EV could have up to 6 km of copper wiring, including in its batteries and in the windings and copper rotors used in electric motors.
The metal is also required for busbars that are used to connect modules and cells in battery packs and in charging infrastructure.
While most cars use internal combustion engines that require up to 23 kg of copper, the IDTechEX research found that a hybrid EV uses 40 kg of copper, a plug-in hybrid EV 60 kg, a battery EV 83 kg, and a hybrid electric bus 89 kg.
A battery-powered electric bus can use 224 kg to 369 kg of copper, depending on the size of battery used.
“Copper has the highest conductivity of any nonprecious 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 ICA market analyst Colin Bennett.
He added that copper increases the efficiency and reliability of these vehicles and is itself a sustainable material, as it is 100% recyclable without loss of properties.
“The demand for EVs is forecast to increase significantly over the next ten years as technology improves, the price gap with petrol cars is closed and more electric chargers are deployed,” added Gonzalez.