Copper use to grow as China shifts to using electricity as energy source

China's demand for copper will surge nearly 1.5 times from last year to 12.85 million tons by 2035.

China, the world’s largest copper consumer, will boost the use of copper as the country shifts to using electricity instead of coal and oil as the energy source, experts said at the 13th Asia Copper Conference in Shanghai today.

By 2035, China's demand for copper will increase nearly 1.5 times from last year to 12.85 million tons as the nation increases the installation of renewable energy sources and use of electric cars as well as raising requirements on household appliances’ energy efficiency, said Zhou Yanting, analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a UK-based energy consultancy. 

Copper, the metal used to conduct electricity, will see demand rise accordingly amid the boost in the the use of wires, cables and batteries, she said.

Renewable energy sources such as wind power, especially offshore wind power, uses more copper than traditional thermal power to connect equipment and for distribution purposes.

China’s installation of wind power will total 200 gigawatts of wind power by 2020, up from 149 gigawatts last year, according to the National Energy Administration.

Electric cars and household appliances also need more copper for the batteries and to enhance electricity efficiency.

Electric cars will account for around 35 percent of the total car sales in China by 2035, the consultancy predicted.

Meanwhile policies such as “Made in China 2025” and “coal to electricity” will also help boost the demand for copper as China takes steps to upgrade electromotors, distribution transformers, and rail traffic “which will increase the intensity of copper in these equipment,” said Huang Fangqing, director of Brilliance Consulting, a domestic metal consultancy.

The “Made in China 2025” policy to upgrade the nation’s manufacturing prowess via digitalization will increase the use of copper by 232,000 tons annually between 2016 and 2025, the company predicted.

Song Yingge / SHINE

The 13th Asia Copper Conference, held in Shanghai from Tuesday to yesterday, highlights China's huge growth in demand for copper.

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