the Energy Transition metal


Copper-Cu-The-Metal-of-batteries and-the-Energy-Transition
copper-renewable-technologies-batteries-energy transition
copper-renewable-technologies-batteries-energy transition

Copper – The Metal of the Energy Transition

Copper use until 2050

Copper will be needed in unprecedented quantities to be used in batteries, electronics, wind and solar installations, nuclear facilities, and other things in order for the humankind to reach net-zero emissions by the year 2050. See also current IEA reports about Critical Minerals and Metals.

copper-renewable-technologies-batteries-energy transition
copper-renewable-technologies-batteries-energy transition

Cooper is one of the best electrical conductor metals used in nearly all technologies which are related to power today. As the energy transition plans to electrify all technologies, the use of electric conductor copper will increase dramatically over the coming decades.

Historic facts and naming

One of the first metals that people were aware of in history is copper. Neolithic humans used it as a replacement for stone tools for the first time around 8000 before common era. Additionally, copper was used to create jewelry and decorations. 

Around 3500 before common era, copper alloys like bronze (a melt of copper metal and tin metal) were discovered, ushering in a new period of human civilization.

The Latin word cuprum, which means “metal of Cyprus,” is where the name copper originates. The Romans widely mined copper there. In old mythology and alchemy, copper was also linked to the deities Venus and Aphrodite.

Copper is a metal with many applications

Applications in electronics

After silver (which is costly), copper is the most efficient conductor of electricity (electron). It is used for wiring, electrical apparatus such as transformers, current collector in Batteries, motors, and generators.

Decreasing amount of copper in Lithium-Ion Battery Cells

There is a trend of using thinner copper foils as current collectors in Lithium-Ion battery cells to save material and to increase the energy density of the battery cell. However, Thinner copper foils are a problem for the role-to-role processes in manufacturing.

Copper Use in Electric Vehicles EV, electric car, and electric buses

The amount of copper used by each form of EV is significantly higher than that of conventional cars with internal combustion engines. Here is a list of how much copper each sort of vehicle uses, approximately:

  • ̴22 kg of copper for an internal combustion engine
  •  40 kg of copper for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV

  • ̴59 kg of copper is used in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)

  • ̴84 kg of copper is used in battery electric vehicles (BEV)

  • ̴90 kg of copper for the hybrid electric bus (Ebus HEV)

  • ̴Electric buses that run on batteries (Ebus BEV) require between 250 and 350 kg of copper, based on the size of the lithium-ion battery.

Copper-Cu-The-Metal-of-batteries and-the-Energy-Transition

Copper use Constructions

In the majority of industrialized nations, copper tubing is the standard substance for heating and plumbing systems. Additionally, it is used for drains, flashing, cladding, and roofing due to its mouldability and relatively good corrosion rate. 


In the majority of industrialized nations, copper tubing is the standard substance for heating and plumbing systems. Additionally, it is used for drains, flashing, cladding, and roofing due to its mouldability and relatively good corrosion rate. The corrosion rate of copper in water is less than 3 µm/year which is low enough to make the life-time of cooper tubing 100-300 years.

 The corrosion rate of copper in water is less than 3 µm/year, which is low enough to make the life-time of cooper tubing 100–300 years.


Copper use in Transportation

Copper is necessary for the electrical and thermal characteristics of cars, boats, trains, and other moving vehicles. Brakes, bearings, radiators, and connections are additional uses for it. In addition to the good electrical conductivity cooper also conducts heat well.

Other Applications that use Copper

Copper is used in a wide range of products, including metallic jewelry, metal coins, cooking tools, metallic musical instruments, and artwork tool.

The function of copper in the energy transition

Due to its widespread use in renewable energy technologies like batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, and hydrogen production, copper is a crucial metal for the energy transition.

As clean energy becomes more mainstream, copper consumption will increase by 50% by 2040, growing by about 3-5% annually.


For the future supply and consumption of copper, there are difficulties and uncertainties. The potential for a looming mismatch between current copper production and demand could make it tough to reach goals for net-zero emissions by 2050. 

According to a report by S&P Global, demand for copper will more than double to more than 53 million metric tons by 2050, nearly doubling to 50 million metric tons by 2035.

Only a 20% increase in current copper production capacity is anticipated over the following ten years; this could result in a large supply gap that would call for new investments in mining and the discovery of copper resources. There r is also hope that copper could be replace one day by an alternative material. However, science has not yet invented such a material.

Alternative metallic conductors

Other metals like aluminum, which is less expensive and more accessible but has a much higher carbon footprint during initial production due the high temperature during production, compete with copper as well.

Increasing cost and fluctuating prices of copper

In addition, cost of copper to being increasing and fluctuating, copper prices are also impacted by a number of variables, including geopolitics, trade policies, environmental regulations, and customer preferences. Therefore, how these possibilities and challenges are handled by various stakeholders, including producers, consumers, governments, investors, and innovators, will determine the future of copper in the energy shift.

References and further readings

  1. Ayman Elshkaki, T.E. Graedel, Luca Ciacci, Barbara K. Reck, Copper demand, supply, and associated energy use to 2050, Global Environmental Change, Volume 39, 2016, Pages 305-315
  2. Branco W. Schipper, Hsiu-Chuan Lin, Marco A. Meloni, Kjell Wansleeben, Reinout Heijungs, Ester van der Voet,, Estimating global copper demand until 2100 with regression and stock dynamics, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol. 132, 2018,, Pages 28-36
  3. Committed mine production and primary demand for copper, 2020-2030, in data-and-statistics, IEA, retrieved October 2022
  4. The Future of Copper. Will the looming supply gap short-circuit the energy transition? S&P global, Report 2022
  5. The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, World Energy Outlook Special Report, Version March 2022, IEA


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