Climate Action

Demand for copper could skyrocket for a more efficient and green automotive industry

New research has found there could be a rise in the demand for copper to improve efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of the automotive industry.

  • 24 September 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

New research has found there could be a rise in the demand for copper to improve efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of the automotive industry.

The research, commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) and undertaken by MetalPlus, has found copper demand for motors could grow to 2.73 million per year by 2022.

Increasingly ambitious carbon objectives means that the automotive market is searching for a solution to improve efficiency. As a result, as efficient motors become mandatory the demand for copper will rise, says the ICA.

In general, products containing copper tend to operate more efficiently because copper is the best nonprecious conductor of heat and electricity.

On average, less than five tonnes of CO2 are emitted to produce one tonne of copper. However, because of copper’s high efficiency in conductive applications it means that between 100 and 7,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions can be reduced.

Copper is a key component in new and energy efficient modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles, which could ensure a sustainable future for the automotive industry. By 2030, copper could reduce the world’s carbon footprint by 16 per cent.

Paul Dewison, Managing Director of MetalPlus and author of the research, said: “Motors are by far the largest consumer of electricity, using 38% of total production. Increasing efficiency in motors means a lower consumption of energy. In turn, lower consumption of energy means lower demand for fossil fuels to generate electricity. With copper a critical material in increasing motor efficiency, demand in this sector is set to grow significantly.”

Colin Bennett, Global Manager, Market Analysis and Outreach at ICA, added: “This latest research continues to highlight the vital role of copper in the energy transition.”

Governments across the world have implemented measures to ensure motor efficiency and the reduction of carbon emissions. Frankfurt have received a court-ordered diesel ban and the UK’s Theresa May has announced a target for all cars to have zero emissions by 2040.