#Better with Copper - Copper's Vital Role in the Clean Energy and Transportation Revolution

The landscape of clean energy and transportation in the United States is rapidly evolving, driven by a steadfast commitment by the White House to reaching 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 and an ambitious aim of making half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero emissions vehicles.

Are we on track to meet these targets?

Over the past two decades, the national grid has seen a significant transformation, with more than 80% of the new capacity added in 2021 originating from renewable sources. This trend is not just a momentary blip but rather a continuing commitment, as state and federal governments have mandated the pursuit of 100% clean energy.

In the sphere of clean transportation there is a marked surge in the supply of electric vehicles (EVs) with a steady upward trajectory. Light-duty EV sales currently represent 7.2% of total vehicle sales, up from 5.8% in 2022, highlighting the growth of zero-emission vehicles. The range of EVs has evolved dramatically, expanding from a modest selection of 13 models in 2021, each with a range exceeding 300 miles, to an impressive and diverse collection of more than 50 models in 2023. This electric revolution extends beyond passenger cars to encompass public transport vehicles, medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, promising a future that is both sustainable and dynamic.

How does Copper play a role in this?

As the demand for electrified clean transportation and the necessity for a robust EV charging infrastructure intensify, our commitment to an intelligent and sustainable approach is paramount.

Copper is quietly yet profoundly contributing in a multitude of ways. Its remarkable properties, including high conductivity, corrosion resistance, malleability, and low creep, render it an indispensable component in the infrastructure of clean energy systems, as well as the manufacturing of EVs and charging stations.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, tidal, hydro, and geothermal, have become significant players in the renewable energy market and copper plays a pivotal role in these technologies. In some instances, they can require four to six times more copper per installed megawatt than fossil fuel or nuclear plants. This heightened demand is because of the expansive areas covered by solar and wind power plants, necessitating extensive power and grounding cables to connect widely dispersed components, including energy storage systems and the electrical grid. This critical metal is found in the turbines, generators, transformers, inverters, electrical cables, power electronics and more.

Copper’s role in EVs and charging stations, is equally crucial. According to recent consumer trends report from Experian, there are currently 1.7 million electric cars in operation in the USA. With the average EV containing about 183 lbs of copper that equates to approximately 308,647,620 lbs of copper driving the future, while emitting zero emissions.

Furthermore, copper is a critical component of the charging stations essential to fueling this electric future. Presently, there are more than 56,000 EV stations with approximately 148,000 charging ports across the USA, but reports indicate that installations need to roughly triple over the next eight years to support the anticipated number of EVs on the road by 2030.

As a 100% recyclable material, copper offers unique sustainability advantages as many types of copper scrap can be directly remelted into new electrical products, bypassing an energy-intensive smelting and refining step that is typically required in other metal systems. At the end of the useful life of renewable energy power plants, EVs, charging stations and their components, copper can be recycled without any loss of its beneficial properties, going on to power the next generation.

In summary, copper stands as a linchpin in the United States' pursuit of cleaner, more efficient energy and transportation systems. Its significance is underscored by its inclusion in the US Department of Energy's critical materials list. Copper is the conductor of change, bridging the path to a greener and more promising future.