Shortages in the supply of the element copper could lead to a new energy crisis. All electrically powered vehicles are at risk
While efforts to say goodbye to fossil fuels are in full swing, humanity is preparing to take a step towards an all-electric future. Renewable energy sources and all vehicles using these sources require copper. The supply shortage of copper is the biggest obstacle to zero emissions. In this case, it looks like a new energy crisis will arise.
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The world faces a copper crisis
Electric vehicles, renewable energy sources and batteries for storing energy require copper. An electric car requires 2.5 times more copper than an internal combustion vehicle. In addition, solar and wind power plants use 2 to 5 times more copper than plants that generate electricity using natural gas or coal.
Thanks to its electrical conductivity and low reactivity, copper is also key to the infrastructure that carries renewable energy. Uses include cables, transistors and inverters. According to a report published by S&P Global, green energy targets will be hampered unless significant new supply is secured.
According to the report, copper demand is forecast to almost double to 50 million tons by 2035. By 2050, demand will exceed 53 million tons. To put this figure into perspective, S&P Global noted that this is “more than all the copper consumed in the world between 1900 and 2021”.
Renewable energy deployment accounts for most of the demand growth. S&P Global estimates that the amount of copper needed for electric vehicles, wind power, solar power and batteries will triple by 2035. With demand growth from other areas, copper requirements will reach unprecedented levels.
Unfortunately, building new copper mines is not so simple. According to the International Energy Agency, it takes an average of 16 years for a new copper mine to start operating. For now, increasing production and accelerating recycling at existing mines could meet some of the high demand.
However, the report predicts that even under the scenarios of increased production and recycling, copper demand will not be met by 2050. Copper has reached its lowest level since November 2020. As demand increases in the coming period, copper prices may also increase significantly.
If this problem is not solved, it seems that the transition to green energy will be significantly delayed. So what do you think about this possible energy crisis? You can share your views with us in the comments section.