By Paul Ploumis
June 14, 2017 02:30:34 PM
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The new research report released by the International Copper Association (ICA) predicts considerable jump in demand for copper from electric vehicles (EVs) over the next decade. The study titled “Copper Intensity in the Electrification of Transport and the Integration of Energy Storage” states that copper demand from the sector is expected to grow almost nine times higher from current levels by 2027. The study, conducted by IDTechEx, details the increasing role played by copper in EV technology.
According to the study, all types of EV uses substantial amount of copper. Copper is used in batteries, and in windings and copper rotors used in electric motors. The metal is also used in busbars used to connect modules and cells in battery packs and in charging infrastructure. The electric vehicles demand is expected to record significant growth over the next decade, mainly on the back of technology improvements, increased affordability and deployment of more electric chargers. The rapid progress in charging infrastructure facilities will lift the demand for copper by 2017.
Almost all categories of EVs use considerably higher quantities of copper when compared with traditional vehicles which uses internal combustion engines. While traditional cars with internal combustion engines require nearly 23 kilograms of copper, hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) typically uses 40 kilograms of copper. Also, plug-in HEVs use 60 kilograms of copper. The copper use by battery electric vehicles is around 83 kilograms, whereas the hybrid electric bus uses 89 kilograms of the metal. Battery powered electric bus uses 224-369 kilograms of copper depending on the size of the battery.
Franco Gonzalez, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx stated that improvement in technology, closing of price gap with petrol cars and deployment of more electric chargers will lead to significant rise in demand for electric vehicles over the next ten years. The number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase from 3 million in 2017 to estimated 27 million in 2017. Consequently, the copper demand for electric cars and buses are likely to increase nine folds from 185,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1.74 million tonnes by 2027.
The study suggests that copper will have critical impact in three areas-energy storage, charging infrastructure and production of EVs. As per estimates, every kilowatt-hour of a lithium ion battery uses 1.1-1.2 kilograms of copper. This could result in additional copper demand of nearly 600 kilotonnes by 2027. In addition, each electric vehicle charger will require 0.7 kilograms of copper. Fast chargers may require up to 8 kilograms of copper. Also, increasing copper content in EVs may lead to increased copper use.
The research study indicates that Copper’s use in electro-mobility may become even greater with the emergence of energy independent vehicles (EIV) that use copper-powered solar photovoltaic panels to harness renewable energy.