October 28, 2016 / 4:15 PM / 3 years ago

Renewable energy, electric cars to boost copper demand

LONDON (Reuters) - Sweeping changes towards producing more renewable energy and electric vehicles coupled with a growing world population will boost the demand for copper in the coming years, a conference heard on Friday.

An employee carries copper hoses at the Sociedade Paulista de Tubos Flexiveis (SPTF) metallurgical company which manufactures flexible metal hoses, in Sao Paulo April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo

“Decarbonisation generally favors copper,” said Ashley Brinson, executive director of the Warren Center thinktank in Sydney.

In Asia alone, technological factor together with surging demographic growth is predicted to lead to an additional 30.8 million tonnes of copper demand by 2030, he told a seminar in London sponsored by industry group the International Copper Association (ICA).

The global copper industry is set to produce 22.5 million tonnes of copper in 2016, up 3.6 percent on last year’s output, according the ICA.

“The Asian middle class will continue to see significant growth ... India’s economy will surpass that of Japan by the end of the period (2030),” Brinson said.

The energy and transport sectors will also be major drivers of copper demand.

“Renewable energy resources require four to 12-times as much copper as traditional fossil fuel-based power generation,” said Jean-Sebastien Jacques, chief executive of global mining group Rio Tinto, a major copper producer.

Growing demand for solar power generation capacity by 2030 will require between 7 and 10 million tonnes of copper, said Jacques, who is also the president of the ICA.

And a growing market share for electric cars will also boost demand for copper.

“With 90 or more kilos of copper used in a full electric vehicle – three to four times more copper than used in a gas-powered car – it is clear to see the positive impact the use of electric vehicles could have on copper demand,” he said.

Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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