Electric vehicles to increase copper demand nine times higher by 2027: ICA

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Copper demand from the electric vehicle (EV) sector could rise by as much as nine times in the next decade, says a study prepared for the International Copper Association (ICA) by IDTechEx. Copper demand for electric vehicles and buses could rise to 1.74 million tonnes in the next decade, the study says.

“Demand for electric vehicles 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,” IDTechEx Senior Technology Analyst Franco Gonzalez says in the report.

In total, the consultancy expects 27 million electric or hybrid cars and buses to be on the road by 2027, up from 3 million this year. “Our research predicts this increase will raise copper demand for electric cars and buses from 185,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1.74 million tonnes in 2027,” Gonzalez adds in the report. 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.

That’s because while cars using internal combustion engines require up to 23 kilograms of copper each, a hybrid electric vehicle uses nearly double that amount, at 40 kilograms of copper. IDTechEx also found that a plug-in hybrid electric car uses 60 kilograms of copper and, depending on the size of its battery, an electric bus can use between 224 and 369 kilograms of copper.

Electric vehicles use a substantial amount of copper in their batteries, and in the windings and copper 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.

Those numbers suggest that electric vehicles could account for about 6 percent of global copper demand in 10 years, up from less than 1 percent this year.

“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 increases the efficiency and reliability of these vehicles and is itself a sustainable material, as it is 100% recyclable without loss of properties.”

Copper increases the efficiency and reliability of these vehicles and is itself a sustainable material, as it is 100 percent recyclable without loss of properties,” he also said.

The report confirms what CEOs and experts have been predicting for the copper market the last few months. In May, Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, the world’s third-largest producer of copper, said the rise of EVs will not only significantly boost demand for lithium, but also other metals like copper.

Copper’s use in this technology could grow even higher as energy independent vehicles (EIV) enter the market. These electric vehicles use solar photovoltaic (PV) surfaces on the roof to provide power from renewable energy. The PV systems also rely on a considerable quantity of copper to operate.

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