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Copper and its role in the future of energy

August 22, 2022

Copper is an essential metal for our everyday lives.

After iron and aluminum, copper is the third most-widely consumed metal in the world. Without operations such as Gibraltar, our society would not have access to the items we use every day – computers, cell phones and televisions, electrical wiring, cars, trucks and other vehicles, plumbing and hydraulic pipes. Copper is also a critical component of items that are increasingly common in medical and hospital settings due to the metal’s anti-microbial properties (e.g. high touch surfaces, such as door handles, call buttons and bed rails). Beyond these everyday uses, copper is also a fundamental and irreplaceable material for facilitating the world’s transition to renewable energy and a net-zero economy.

Copper in Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EV) contain up to six times more copper than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The average volume of copper required to manufacture a passenger EV is 183 pounds versus 30 pounds for an ICE vehicle. In 2021, Gibraltar produced 112 million pounds of copper – enough to manufacture 612,000 EVs. If all of Taseko’s 2021 copper production was used to manufacture EVs, and displaced an equivalent number of ICE vehicles on North American roads, it would have the potential to offset 2.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Copper in Wind and Solar

Because of its high conductivity, ductility and durability, copper is widely used in electrical wiring, power generation and transmission. However, increased usage of technologies such as solar and wind power require substantially more copper than conventional generation technologies 4. Similar to the electric vehicle example, Gibraltar’s 2021 production of 112 million pounds of copper, if directed solely to the manufacture of onshore wind installations or solar arrays, would have the potential to achieve greenhouse gas reductions of 1.23 million 5 or 1.15 million 6 tonnes of carbon annually, respectively.

Notes: 1. Source: ElectricVehicles-Infographic.pdf ( 2. Calculations: 112million lbs of copper/ 183lbs per EV = 612,000 EVs 3. Source: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle | US EPA; Calculations: 612,000 EVs x 4.6 GHG/unit tonnes annually = 2,815,301 tonnes of annual GHG reduction 4. Sources: Use of electricity - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions | US EPA; Copper in renewable energy - Wikipedia 5. 10,812 MW x GHG per unit of Energy 0.043 t/MWh x Renewable intermittency 30% x hours per year 8,760 hr = 1,225,919 tonnes annually GHG reduction 6. 10,163 MW x GHG per unit of Energy 0.043 t/MWh x Renewable intermittency 30% x hours per year 8,760 hr = 1,152,364 tonnes annually GHG reduction 7. Calculations: 112million lbs of copper/4.7 t/MW = 10,812 MW 8. Calculations: 112million lbs of copper/5 t/MW = 10,163 MW

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