Over 650 GW of new onshore and 130 GW of new offshore wind capacity will be installed between 2018 and 2028. This will consume in excess of 5.5Mt of copper, according to a recent analysis by Wood Mackenzie.
Henry Salisbury, Wood Mackenzie Research Analyst, said: “Wind technology is the most copper-intensive form of power generation and is anticipated to consume the largest amount of copper over the next ten years in this sector.
“Governments have set out to transition from a dependency on carbon emission-intensive power to more renewable energy sources. As a result, wind and solar energy sources have become a popular technology choice.
“In order to generate, transmit and distribute the energy, copper is required due to its low electrical resistivity, high conductivity, malleability and durability. As a result of the intensity of copper within wind farm projects and the increasing demand for wind energy, consumption of copper is substantial and forecast to grow significantly over the next decade.”
Where is copper used in wind turbines?
Within a wind turbine, copper is consumed in the generator, power transformers, gearbox and tower cabling.
Onshore turbines are connected through collector cables, which are linked to a substation before joining the electrical and transmission network.
Offshore turbines are connected through collector cables to an offshore substation. Distribution cables connect the offshore substation to a terrestrial substation ahead of connection to the transmission network.
“Approximately 58% of copper consumed within wind installations is through cabling. Considering our current forecasts for new wind turbine installations between 2018 and 2028, over 3 Mt of copper will be consumed in both collector and distribution cabling,” added Mr. Salisbury.