Copper Demand From Electric Vehicle Segment Accelerating

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LONDON: Greater use of electric vehicles and expansion of renewable energy capacity to cut noxious emissions will mean accelerating demand growth for copper in coming years which will sustain prices.

Highlighting the energy transitionwas Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently pledged to steer the country to “carbon neutrality” by 2060 and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledging $2 trillion to help cut emissions.

The European Union too is aiming for net-zero by 2050.

Stringent targets for cutting carbon emissions cannot be met without electric vehicles and renewable energy from wind and solar farms, which need copper favoured in applications that conduct electricity.

CRU analyst Charlie Durant expects total copper demand from the electric vehicle sector to rise to nearly 1.5 million tonnes in 2025 and to 3.3 million tonnes by 2030 from under 500,000 tonnes this year.

“Electric vehicle demand for copper will account for 10% of total demand in 2030. The renewable energy sector could see copper demand rise from around 650,000 tonnes in 2020 to over 1.3 million tonnes in 2030,” Durant said.

“There are risks as the pace and manner in which the electric vehicle and renewable power markets evolve over time is by no means certain.”

Expectations are for global copper demand to rise to more than 26 million tonnes in 2025 from around 23 million tonnes this year, and much of that growth will come from renewable energy and electric vehicles.

In China, the world’s biggest auto market, the goal is for electric vehicles to make up 50% of all new car sales by 2035.

“On average a battery electric vehicle (BEV) contains about 83 kg of copper and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)contains about 60 kg compared with an average 23 kg in an internal combustion engine car,” said Citi analyst Max Layton.

Citi forecasts prices to hold around $7,000 a tonne between 2021 and 2025 compared with an average of $6,050 this year.

Layton expects electric vehicles and charging stations and renewable power generation to account for 3.19 million tonnes of total copper demand in 2025 from 1.36 million tonnes this year.

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