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Electric vehicles set to drive boom in copper

The rising number of plug-in electric vehicles is expected to drive a boom in the copper market because of the crucial role played by copper in port charging cables and units and wiring to electrical panels.

A new report commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA) has found that the increase of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will drive total copper demand of 560,000 tonnes through to 2027, with new demand expected to rise to 102,000 tonnes.Plug-in electric vehicles are on the increase

Though currently just 1-2 per cent of global car sales, the research ” carried out by consulting firm Navigant Research ” predicts that technological developments, CO2 regulations and concerns around air pollution will cause global PEV sales to rise 14 per cent by 2027.

With a greater number of cars comes a greater need for charging infrastructure, and copper’s intrinsic values give it a dominant role in the market.

Colin Bennett, global manager for Market Analysis and Outreach at the Washington-headquartered ICA, said: “We are at an exciting moment for the copper industry, as the PEV market grows and continues to have a positive impact on society. “This research underscores the vital role copper plays within PEV charging infrastructure.”

John Gartner, director at Navigant Research, said: “The amount of copper inside residential charging units is modest compared to the wiring installed to connect chargers to electrical panels, meaning a change in deploymentࢀ”from charging at home to commercial chargingࢀ”could require four to nine times as much copper, depending on the extent of the shift.”

The same is true for the type of charger used, he explained. Higher power requires more copper because of the need for larger gauge wires, so a faster uptake in direct current (DC) charging would significantly increase copper demand. Equally, policies requiring buildings to have charging facilities installed would have a major impact.

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