The demand for copper is growing rapidly and this is mainly due to the transition to renewable energy sources. While interest in renewables is growing, there may not be enough copper on the market to meet this demand. Demand in 2022-2050 is predicted to be many times greater than in 1900-2021. By 2035, the global demand for copper is projected to nearly double, according to a new S&P Global report. In 2035, the market could lack up to 9.9 million tons of copper.
Huge increase in copper usage
“The gap arises even under assumptions of aggressive capacity utilization rates and all-time-high recycling rates,” says the report. “Even with these aggressive assumptions, refined copper demand will outpace supply in the forecast period up to 2035.”
The development of the energy industry in future years will be most dependent on how much copper will be available on the market. In the next 30 years, the demand for copper will be greater than the amount of copper that people used in the last 100 years. This is an extreme amount of this metal.
Even copper recycling will not be enough
It is one of the best conductors of electricity and is needed in all smart electronics, home appliances, batteries, cars and electrical networks. To eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, this will require large amounts of copper.
“Substitution and recycling will not be enough to meet the demands of electric vehicles (EVs), power infrastructure, and renewable generation,” the report says. “Unless massive new supply comes online in a timely way, the goal of Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 will be short-circuited and remain out of reach.”
Electric cars are also responsible for the problem
A huge amount of copper will be consumed especially by the production of electric cars, which will continue to increase. The problem is that most copper is only found in a small number of places on Earth. More than half of the copper resources are located in Chile, Argentina, Peru, the USA and Mexico.
“The objective of this study is to measure the gap between political ambitions and the level of production that can be delivered in the years ahead. It is not intended to recommend or predict which possible solutions or combination of solutions should or can fill the supply gap,” reads the report.
Using aluminum will not save the problem
The high demand for copper could be solved by replacing it with aluminum in electronics, as it was before. However, copper mining is likely to develop, mining will expand, and copper recycling will also improve. Copper is not the only key material for electrical devices. The world is already facing shortages of lithium, cobalt and other metals. Humanity is increasingly dependent on minerals, which are increasingly scarce on Earth.