Although it is well known that electric vehicles use about four times as much copper as fuel vehicles, the short-term demand for such metals is not from the automotive industry, but from charging stations and related infrastructure to support the growth of electric vehicles.
According to international consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, there will be more than 20 million electric vehicle charging points in the world by 2030, and demand for copper will increase by more than 250% compared to 2019. But if more private and public investment is allocated, the forecast will become a reality faster.
Research indicates that the EV charging infrastructure ecosystem is complex and that most projects require strong partnerships between public and private stakeholders. Not only power companies, equipment manufacturers, software and network providers, but governments and NGOs need to work together.
According to reports, in North America alone, the electric vehicle infrastructure market will reach $2.7 billion by 2021 and reach $18.6 billion by 2030.
"By 2040, we predict that passenger electric vehicles will consume more than 3.7 million tons of copper per year. By comparison, the demand for passenger internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is more than 1 million tons," said Wood Mackenzie research analyst Henry Salisbury. "If we consider the cumulative demand, from now to 2040, passenger electric vehicles will consume 35.4 million tons of copper, which is about 5 million tons higher than the amount of copper needed to meet the current demand for passenger internal combustion engines."
At present, the global electric vehicle market share is less than 1%, but by 2030, electric vehicles are expected to account for about 11% of new car sales. Consumer demand in the automotive industry will also affect the impact of copper demand. In general, the average copper demand for an internal combustion engine car is about 20 kg, which is mainly used for wiring, while a hybrid vehicle requires about 40 kg, and an all-electric vehicle requires about 80 kg. As the size of the vehicle increases, the number will increase. For example, an all-electric bus uses 11 to 16 times more copper than an internal combustion passenger car, depending on the size of the battery and the actual bus size.
This means that global copper demand will increase by 3 million to 5 million tons in the next decade. Once electric vehicles become popular, by then, the demand for new copper in the electric vehicle industry alone will reach 11 million tons, while other green technologies may have room to rise.
While electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and able to travel longer on a single charge, consumers still face the challenge of being able to provide the power they need for long-distance travel.
Gas stations are everywhere, the refueling process is fast, and there is very little need to plan ahead. But electric car charging stations are far from being seen. Despite advances in charger and battery technology, charging takes longer for automotive batteries, which takes about 30 minutes for today's fast chargers.
Salisbury said: "At present, mileage anxiety is mainly due to the fear that the battery will run out of power in the middle, which is a key psychological obstacle to the popularization of electric vehicles. One way to solve this problem is to introduce more charging infrastructure. This is This means that more connections to the grid will be needed and more copper will be needed as the network expands."
Salisbury also believes that copper will benefit from no viable alternatives. The physical properties of the metal make it the best conductive way to easily adapt to the temperature of an electric car. “Although aluminum is the closest choice and is lighter in weight and lower in cost, copper is more sized and efficient, and the cross-sectional area of aluminum cables is twice that of copper, and this means that if With aluminum cables, the size and space of the car, even the performance will be affected."
Copper is also a key factor in green technology and renewable energy, and although it uses more advanced technology, it still accounts for only a small portion of the world's total energy production.
Source: Cable Network