Detail of an enamelled litz wire. Alisdojo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

S&P: Chronic Copper Shortages will “Short Circuit” Net Zero 2050

Essay by Eric Worrall

It seems a pity nobody ran some numbers BEFORE making promises and spending billions on an energy transition which we don’t have the resources to make happen.

Copper shortage keep green energy, tech ventures grounded

Copper the balloon popper for 2050 net-zero goals according to S&P

Brandon Vigliarolo 
Fri 15 Jul 2022  // 17:00 UTC 

Copper is so central to transitioning from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, says a report from S&P Global, that worldwide demand is likely to double by 2035 from 25 million metric tons to 50; no matter the scenario, S&P said it’s unlikely the world will be able to meet it.

“The record-high level of demand would be sustained and continue to grow to 53 million metric tons in 2050 – more than all the copper consumed in the world between 1900 and 2021,” S&P Global said.

From oil to minerals

In a 2021 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) described a new energy paradigm slowly replacing fossil fuels – minerals, the most important being copper.

Internal combustion vehicles of all sizes have around 24 kilograms of copper in their powertrains, the report’s data shows. Swapping internal combustion for fuel cells leads to a slight increase in copper, but swapping fuel cells for batteries is where things start to really scale up. A light duty battery-powered EV (BEV) powertrain requires 60kg of copper. A medium-duty BEV requires 139kg, while a heavy-duty BEV needs a whopping 425kg of copper.

The obvious solution to this inevitable problem would be to open more copper mines. That would definitely help offset coming shortages, but the catch is that those offsets would come too late.

It currently takes 16 years, on average, to develop a new mine, meaning that a new mine seeking permission today would not become productive in time to accommodate the demand spike,” S&P said, quoting an IEA study.

Substitution of other metals – like aluminum – and recycling of copper reportedly won’t be enough to meet projected demand either, S&P’s data shows. 

Read more:

The S&P report is available here. The first key finding in the executive summary pretty much says it all; “Copper—the “metal of electrification”—is essential to all energy transition plans. But the potential supply-demand gap is expected to be very large as the transition proceeds. Substitution and recycling will not be enough to meet the demands of electric vehicles (EVs), power infrastructure, and renewable generation. 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.

Obviously it is possible some unexpected advance will dramatically increase copper availability, in the same sense it is possible I’ll win the lottery. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for either event.

5 38 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
July 17, 2022 10:13 am

Do these estimates of how much copper will be needed include the amount of copper that will be necessary to increase grid capacity by a factor of 4 or 5?

Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 10:29 am

No need for estimates Mark.

Brandon has been told there’s a whole mountain of copper right there in Colorado.

He’s ready to sign an Executive Order to mine & process the whole thing right away. We’ll all be ordering EVs by next Thursday. HALLELUJAH!

Reply to  Mr.
July 17, 2022 12:10 pm

Copper Mountain is currently (in the winter) a great place to ski.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Mr.
July 18, 2022 8:46 am

Unless, of course, they stumble on some coal while they’re mining….
Then Brandon will declare it a National Refuge or something, just like Bill Clinton did with the “clean coal” deposit in Utah.

R Stevenson
Reply to  Mr.
July 19, 2022 2:28 am

A mountain may seem a lot but the copper content is low. The sulphide ores are always mixed with large quantities of siliceous material or ‘gangue’ and never contain more than 1 – 7% of copper.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 12:53 pm

And just how many EV-powered mining and mine-to-smelter-to-copper forming plant transportation vehicles will be needed in the next several years to produce all that additional copper?

R Stevenson
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
July 18, 2022 2:41 am

Copper smelters generate huge CO2 emissions fouling up the net zero emissions targets. Just as soaring NG costs are forcing the fracking issue and the search for new gas fields in the West. Also where are the mining companies going to find all the Lithium required for EVs; Lithium extraction is not all that environmentally friendly a process. The climate change zealots will go crazy.

R Stevenson
Reply to  R Stevenson
July 18, 2022 4:05 am

Correctio apparently copper smelters do not produce much in the way of Co2 emissions. Depending on the ore the main emission is SO2 which should be easily dealt with to produce H2SO4 . Copper occurs in nature combined with iron and sulphur as copper pyrites or chalcopyrite, CuFeS2.Extraction involves leaching with dilute H2SO4 the the solution is electrolysed in cells fitted with pure copper cathodes. Other copper sulphide ores use melting and reverberatory furnaces.
The crude copper produced by the above three processes must be refined. Thermal refining does produce emissions to reduce cuprous oxide. Copper of the highest purity is produced by electrolytic refining. I should have remembered or known all this having worked in the non – ferrous smelting industry.

R Stevenson
Reply to  R Stevenson
July 19, 2022 5:17 am

Upto date smelters such as Kennectt in Utah use Outotec ‘Double Flash’ technology licenced by Outokumpu of Finland.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 3:45 pm

It’s not just the copper itself. Where is all the insulation material going to come from as we shut down oil production – meaning shortages of plastics?

Nor is it copper wire that makes up all the future demand. What do printed circuits use for conductor paths and ground planes? As you substitute electrical load for natural gas you increase the control circuits – charging circuits, solar panel control circuits, residential backup battery controllers from solar panels, etc.

The fact is that we have far too many elected politicians and far too many un-elected bureaucrats that know absolutely nothing about the real world. We aren’t governed by “elites” today, we are governed by the “stupes” that can’t do anything productive.

Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 4:31 pm

No because grid capacity will not need to be increased by a factor of 4-5.

Randy Syubbings
Reply to  Duane
July 17, 2022 5:36 pm

: In Alberta, where 99.9 percent of hospitals, schools, seniors’ residences, office towers, public buildings, and private residences use natural gas for heating, the grid capacity will have to increase by more than 500 percent. Not only are we supposed to replace fossil fuel consumption with electricity consumption, we’re supposed to replace reliable, high capacity factor fossil fuel generators with 40 percent capacity factor wind and 20 percent capacity factor solar, which would require a massive overbuild in generation capacity and staggering amounts of battery storage.

Reply to  Duane
July 17, 2022 7:59 pm

I was being conservative, it will probably be much higher than that.

Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 8:45 pm

If you can’t use any fossil fuel not even GAS like many full greentards want the estimate is a mile off.

You need to replace the coal, gas and oil in that graph and that is a lot more than 4 fold

Last edited 10 months ago by LdB
Reply to  Duane
July 17, 2022 8:44 pm

ROFL that is funny right there 🙂

Duane has several options to make his statement true
1.) A massive cull of the population of the planet
2.) Not replace fossil fuel powered infrastructure … AKA send us back to the dark ages
3.) Duane is a complete idiot and just posted BS.

Hmmm wonder which is likely?

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  LdB
July 18, 2022 11:44 am

No 1

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2022 8:34 am

A new problem with electric cars.

A family bought a used 2014 Ford Focus electric car for their son. The cost was $11,000 and had 60,000 miles on it. The car worked fine for a couple of months then started throwing all kinds of warning lights.
Turns out the car needs a new battery. The battery, at $14,000 costs more than the car did, but that’s not the biggest problem. The car has been discontinued by Ford, and there are no batteries available, at any price.

The insane cost of replacement batteries is a well known problem, but not being able to get a battery at all because the model has been discontinued is a new one to me.

The article didn’t mention it, but something that stuck out to me was the fact the car had only 60K miles on it. Haven’t the various electric enthusiasts been claiming that electrics are so much more reliable and should last many times longer than ICE vehicles?
Here’s another example of the real world not living up the activists hype.

Richard Lentz
Reply to  MarkW
July 19, 2022 8:38 am

According to several Global Energy Consumption web sites, the total Non-renewable global energy consumption is in the neighborhood of 150,000 TWh. [ Energy is in terms of TWh for simplification and to avoid the use of multiple labels, like BTU, Therm, etc.] That number excludes bio, Solar and Wind. I seriously doubt that the energy used in third world countries in the mud and thatch homes outside of the cities that have electricity are included in these numbers. The only way to achieve the Mythical “Net-Zero CO2” is for all of that “Energy,” 150,000 TWh, is going through Copper wire. Keep in mind that the “Renewable” portion [not included above] is less than is less than 10 percent of that 150,000 TWh is renewable.

Once upon a time a roll of pennies was worth ~$1.00, today they are made of steel. Go to Home Depot, Lowes or any supplier that has copper wire and buy a length of 4/0 Gauge, 0000 AWG, (App 0.50 diameter) copper wire – $10.00. Yes Copper is rarely used in transmission lines, However, when the electricity is on generator or the user side of the transformer it is high grade copper. Aluminum is rarely used. Therefore, that price is going to go to near $100.00 a foot. and all of those Copper mines that Obama put off limits are going to make those nature preserves look like the strip mines of West Virginia.

Last edited 10 months ago by usurbrain
John Shotsky
July 17, 2022 10:16 am

A few years ago, I read something similar. It said that in order for England to go all electric would take ALL of the world’s current copper production. That’s not the EU, it is just England. It will be a massive shortfall, and we are diving headfirst into it.
Not to mention that it takes ‘fossil fuel’ power plants to charge all these electric vehicles, with the low efficiency at production, and subsequent transmission losses, which can amount to 30% or more. So, MORE power plants needed to meet the growing demand of EVs recharging, but using more expensive energy.
IC vehicles are seriously efficient. There is no way EVs will ever be as efficient as ICVs.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  John Shotsky
July 17, 2022 10:27 am

Losses in the Carnot cycle for EVs occurs at the power plant, transmission, and charging. Losses for ICE occur at fuel combustion in the engine itself. With as efficient as power plants are compared to individual ICEs, EVs are currently a little more efficient than the average ICE but a little less so than a good hybrid.
But this is not likely to persist as the low hanging fruit of lithium production is already all in production. I don’t think we’ll need to worry about copper shortages because there will be shortages in lithium, nickel, cobalt, and silver first.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 17, 2022 10:58 am

At least I’m glad to hear my hybrid car is more efficient than the rest. But it is little consolation at the moment.

As I have said elsewhere in this thread, the world is run by idiots mindless of the consequences of their nonsensical policies. All they care about is their endless quest for power and control over the rest of us.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
July 17, 2022 7:17 pm

They really aren’t idiots or mindless. They are unscrupulous scientists holding onto jobs and looking for money , and politicians creating an emergency to get votes. Their actions are quite rational given their goals. Then let’s talk about the media. Always remember the maxim If it bleeds it leads. Fortunes are being made off the trusting public.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 17, 2022 11:19 am

The price of lithium already quadrupled in the last year. All of these other elements are going to increase in price too – until they’re priced out of the market.

There isn’t going to be a cheap EV battery unless a new battery chemistry is developed.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  meab
July 17, 2022 11:58 am

It’s called Cronyism – it always happens when Government mandates ‘something’ ‘anything’ that requires almost any resource.

The folks supplying whatever the ‘something’ is simply gouge the market. When it is Legal Law that you must buy something like an electric car, the manufacturers set up an informal unspoken cartel and sky’s the limit.
That our politicians haven’t worked it out is quite amazing.

BUT, oh yes they have worked it out.
A career as a politician is invariably quite short and when they get deselected,they join the legions of cronies that they created while they were in power.

It is more corrupt than a really corrupt thing and the system is now so big & convoluted there’s no way to control it and stop that humongous corruption and waste of resources

There is a genuine requirement for a Great Reset.
That ‘reset’ will centre on re-sizing Government down to something where it can actually manage itself – before it then attempts to manage the county/state/country/world.
Heaven forbid such mendacious muppets want to control the weather.

Bring it on, bring on Great Reset
Great Government reset, not a reset of the economy.

Last edited 10 months ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 17, 2022 12:48 pm

re: “It’s called Cronyism – it always happens when Government … ”

In the news just a few days back:

Nancy Pelosi Urges Support Of $50 Billion ‘CHIPS’ Bill Hours After Disclosing $8 Million Nvidia Stake

Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 17, 2022 1:08 pm

Government Near Death.

another ian
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 17, 2022 3:00 pm

“Every environmental issue starts as a noble cause, becomes a business, and ends up as a racket. Usually in about a dozen years. — Me 7/16/2022″

BTW that is a different “Me”

Reply to  another ian
July 18, 2022 7:21 am

There are a few that skip directly to step three. The ozone hole nonsense comes to mind. Ditto acid rain.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  meab
July 18, 2022 6:15 am

Yep, the IEA recently said the price of lithium increased by almost 750% between January 2021 and March 2022

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 17, 2022 5:29 pm

And then there will be the increased need for fire-fighting equipment! /sarc

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 2:44 am

yes I read one of the cali fires? was started by an EV doing it usual crematorium on wheels stunt

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Robert W Turner
July 18, 2022 6:12 am

The IEA forsee potential worldwide shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025.

Reply to  John Shotsky
July 17, 2022 12:44 pm

re: “which can amount to 30% or more.”

The most pessimistic number by those who study these sorts of things peg the number at no more than 15% in specific examples, with a number less than 10% being realistic.

John Shotsky
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 1:30 pm

Energy-dense stuff is burned to release heat. The heat then boils water into steam, causing a turbine to spin, and that is used to help in generating electricity. Though this is one of the most effective ways of producing electricity, the only ⅔ of the energy produced turns into electricity. The other energy is lost due to the thermodynamic limits in the process.
Different power is lost at different stages

  • 1-2% of energy is lost during the step-up transformer from when the electricity is generated to when it is transmitted.
  • 2-4% of energy is lost in the transmission lines
  • 1-2% of energy is lost during the step-down of the transform from the transmission line to distribution.
  • 4-6% of energy is lost during the distribution

So, the average loss of power between the power plant and consumers ranges between 8-15%.
But burning fuel to produce electricity is not terribly efficient, compared to an ICV. Losses are at LEAST 40%, not counting getting the fuel to the power plant in the first place.
My point is that it takes a LOT of fuel to recharge our growing army of EVs. And it will take a lot more, as that army increases in size. They are fed by this inefficient process, compared to just using gas directly in the vehicle.

Reply to  John Shotsky
July 17, 2022 1:44 pm

re: “Energy-dense stuff is burned to ..”

Redundant and superfluous; why are you repeating this to me? Also, you’re not including nuclear processes, OR wind and solar processes, both of which constitute a good portion of Texas’ energy supply on any given average day.

How about a cite for some of your quoted figures too.

Again, why are you quoting these figures to me? I don’t see your losses mounting up to the claimed 30% loss figure either, unless some slight of hand with numbers was just pulled on us.

Reply to  John Shotsky
July 17, 2022 7:02 pm

Transmission line losses are higher than 2-4%. For a 100 mile high voltage transmission line the losses are about 17%. Distribution losses closer to where the power is used can approach 50%. This includes the step-up/step-down transformers, but it’s still huge.

Reply to  James
July 17, 2022 8:30 pm

Here in Australia you can watch power in effect being transported 2000km. There are substantial losses.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  James
July 18, 2022 5:28 am

Here is a paper that discusses HV line loss.

AC Transmission Line Losses (

As you can see, corona loss outweighs resistive losses over longer distances. That is why larger insulators, wires, and crossarm spacing is necessary for these lines.

Another paper.

Total Losses in Power Distribution and Transmission Lines | EEP (

Last edited 10 months ago by Jim Gorman
Richard Page
Reply to  James
July 18, 2022 6:15 am

Overall, including generation, over 66% of the energy is wasted – only 34% of the energy you start with gets through to the electrical sockets.

Last edited 10 months ago by Richard Page
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 1:59 pm

I’ve never seen any numbers as low as 15%.

You are also neglecting the losses involved in charging and discharging the battery, those can easily add up to another 30%.

John Shotsky
Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2022 6:25 am

Charging efficiency of EVs is about 85%. Any heat generated in using the EV is more energy loss. It stands to reason that the discharge efficiency is similar to the charging efficiency…but again, that is using the prime energy of fossil fuel power plants with its already-degraded efficiency.
Some early cars were electric. They found it more efficient to burn gas. Nothing has changed except long-lost lessons are forgotten.
Ignorant people don’t understand that doing things in the most uneconomical way does not help anything, not least of all the climate.
So, burn fossil fuel and distribute it to charging stations at a loss to reduce emissions? Are you joking? It will INCREASE emissions because they have to rebuild the grid and burn more fossil fuel in the process.

Reply to  John Shotsky
July 18, 2022 7:26 am

I thought it was 15% in and 15% out. There’s also the energy consumed by the circuitry that converts AC to DC and manages the charging cycle, and the circuitry that converts the DC back to AC. Not to mention the various wiring losses.
And we can never forget the energy consumed by the active cooling elements that keep the battery from overheating.

Last edited 10 months ago by MarkW
Old Man Winter
July 17, 2022 10:19 am
July 17, 2022 10:20 am

Time to buckle down on the superconductor thingy.

If ever.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Kpar
July 17, 2022 12:43 pm

Why stop there?


Reply to  Kpar
July 17, 2022 1:02 pm

got helium?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  czechlist
July 17, 2022 3:43 pm

Only in bomb form soon.

Ian Johnson
Reply to  czechlist
July 18, 2022 2:27 am


Reply to  Kpar
July 17, 2022 7:05 pm

Mister Fusion will solve it. Recycled cans and banana peels will power industry!!

Robert W Turner
July 17, 2022 10:22 am

Yet in this bear market rally, risk on assets have pumped while value stocks, energy, and basic materials have dumped up to 30%. We’re clearly still in peak insanity. It won’t be over until no one even entertains buying digital tulips, e.g. crypto and NFTs.

Underinvestment, err intentional divestment, is one major reason for the inflation we have seen in commodities. It will only get worse as new projects in just about any basic material project is currently underfunded at these prices the global swamp drives inflationary forces while suppressing the supply side.

Philip CM
July 17, 2022 10:26 am

Yeah! Use aluminum. That should be fun.
Instead of asking, how many km/charge. The common question will be how many kilometers before the battery bursts into flame.
There is your environmental hazard.

Reply to  Philip CM
July 17, 2022 11:21 am

Here’s what’s coming ‘down the pike’ too, “16 Gauge Stranded Copper Clad Aluminum” wire –
Some of the line cords on lamps are so lightweight (by feel) now, they may be of the same ‘make up’ (copper clad), or 100% AL to boot.

Last edited 10 months ago by _Jim
Carlo, Monte
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 4:08 pm

Read the link title: intended for speaker wires, not power transmission.

Al was used in residential wiring 55-60 years ago because of Cu shortages, it is illegal now.

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
July 17, 2022 7:26 pm

We audiophiles use 12 gauge or thicker COPPER speaker wires. Not aluminum and not thinner than 12 AWG.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Richard Greene
July 17, 2022 8:56 pm

For audio frequencies the skin effect is minimal so there is no point to trying make waveguides.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 5:44 pm

Copper-clad aluminum is functional for alternating current, where much of the conduction takes place on the surface. However, for DC power transmission, the resistive-loss, and consequent heat, such wire will be impractical.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 17, 2022 8:05 pm

The size of the skin effect is proportional to the frequency of the AC. At 50 to 60 Hz, the skin effect is minor.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 17, 2022 8:09 pm

When I was a kid in CA, a lot of homes had to hire electricians to rip out the aluminum wires that had been installed when the homes were built and replace them with copper.

Because of aluminum’s higher resistance, the lines would heat up when under load. Over time these heating and cooling cycles would cause the wires to start to come loose from wall sockets or light switches. When this happened, the amount of surface area in the contact region would decrease, which caused even more heating.

A lot of houses burned down because of aluminum wiring.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 8:45 pm

I remember those days. I’m reminded of the old saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2022 12:55 pm

The Al wire itself is fine (except it can melt at lower temps that Cu, and it burns). The issue was the insulating AlO2 layer that forms almost instantly when the wire is exposed to air. A properly designed and applied connector was fine, but people would use normal connectors, or not apply them correctly, and the outlet/breaker/junction would burst into flame after the insulating layer got to the right thickness.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  John_C
July 18, 2022 4:42 pm

There were more problems than just using the correct connectors in the proper manner. Again, Al wires need a larger bend radius than copper. An installer that didn’t realize that could cause the Al to eventually crack at a bend Cu could handle fine causing a high resistance and subsequent fire.

There are just a lot of reasons why AL wire isn’t used in house wiring any more.

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 7:07 pm

Aluminum wire is not allowed per U.S. NFPA 70 (National Electric Code) for industrial applications. I have a 2020 version on my desk at work…

Reply to  _Jim
July 18, 2022 2:46 am

and they wont be very supple and will split/crack under minimal use/movement like being rolled up etc

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 17, 2022 4:15 pm

Aluminum has a higher resistivity than copper. It is usually recommended to use twice the AGW size of copper if you are going to use aluminum. Bending radius is usually somewhere around 8 times the wire diameter so aluminum wire will require a larger bend radius than copper wire with the same power carrying capacity. This makes anything with windings such as transformers or motors much larger if you use aluminum wire.

Copper-clad aluminum is fine for wires carrying high frequency currents since those involve skin effect so the aluminum doesn’t contribute much to carrying hi-freq power. That’s not the case for DC or low freq AC power transmission.

Aluminum wire corrodes much easier than copper, especially when in contact with copper wire. Thus you have to use special aluminum-copper splicing connectors along with corrosion preventive paste.

Aluminum’s main attractiveness is that it is lighter than copper. Thus its use in long span situations such as electric power transmission lines.

From an engineering view I’m not convinced that aluminum can be substituted for copper in most of our usage. It’s another pipedream.

Bob boder
Reply to  Tim Gorman
July 17, 2022 4:59 pm

Aluminum is also not flexible, repeated flexing causes cracking and breaks.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
July 17, 2022 8:14 pm

In radio frequency and higher applications they use wave guides instead of wires. These are essentially hollow tubes. They are hollow to save weight and cost, since the inside of any wire plays no role energy transmission.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2022 3:52 am

You’ll typically find waveguides in the microwave frequency spectrum. Below 1ghz coax is the main transmission media for RF. The use of copper-clad aluminum would work fine for 500khz to 1ghz. The problem is that copper-clad aluminum in coax has all the problems of aluminum – larger bend radius, lower tension strength (long vertical runs leads to stretching and failure), and connector issues.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2022 4:38 am

A slight correction Mark. Waveguides use a different mode of operation as compared to two conductor coax.

Any alternating current in a conductor utilizes only the outer portion of the wire. This is known as the skin effect. I like to think of it as analogous to being a waveguide of sorts.

As frequencies climb into the microwave, skin effect losses become very large and waveguides come into their own. However, the mechanism for propagating the EM wave differs between the two types of conductors.

July 17, 2022 10:28 am

Oh, and what source of energy will be used to turn the ore into copper metal and the metal into the copper products?

David Dibbell
July 17, 2022 10:38 am

It is a notable shame that so much copper will end up being sequestered unproductively, and for no good reason, in intermittent wind and solar sources, battery and other storage systems, and low-utilization distribution systems such as for EV charging. All of this was easily anticipated and widely ignored to push the “renewable,” “clean,” “net zero” nonsense.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Dibbell
Tom Halla
July 17, 2022 10:46 am

And of course the green NGOs that demand a transition to battery vehicles also oppose mining.
I have the belief that they know that is impossible, and want a failure.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 17, 2022 11:49 am

Europs largest Copper finding is situated in Sweden. The Green party has made the region Natura 2000, which make permit to extract the Copper extremely difficult and expensive. One example of short thinking.

July 18, 2022 2:49 am

as is planning to landgrab their farms for the same idiotic natura scam
they wont allow farms but plan to selloff at huge profits for housing estates that would be more polluting and UNnatural than pastures n cows

Rud Istvan
July 17, 2022 10:48 am

Copper is just one of many reasons you cannot get to net zero from here, ever.
There is no solution for renewable intermittency except redundant fossil fuel fired backup generation.
There is not enough cobalt and lithium to go to a BEV transportation solution. Nor is there a viable BEV solution for heavy trucking.
There is no way to avoid natgas or coking coal to make the steel for grid pylons and wind towers.
Heat pumps are useless in cold winter climes.

The very notion that net zero could be someday ‘real’ just shows the abject ignorance of many technical things amongst its proponents. BoJo and AOC works as exhibits A and B for that truth.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 17, 2022 11:04 am

Suffice it to say: Engineering and engineering judgement/calculation has been removed from the equation of the central planners …

Pop Piasa
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 4:10 pm

Seems like engineers are too practical to run things…

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 17, 2022 11:29 am

Nuclear is the only current option to replace fossil fuels after fossil fuels run out. The good thing is that we likely have more than 50 years before we run out of natural gas and more than 100 years before we run out of oil as there are still huge amounts of proven oil reserves, shale oil, and tar sands.

There’s still plenty of time to manage the next energy transition in a responsible way but we need to recognize that unreliable renewables aren’t going to do it.

Reply to  meab
July 17, 2022 12:43 pm

More like 100 years of gas, 200 to 300 years of oil and 1000 years of coal.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 4:16 pm

Spot-on observations by both of you IMHO. The trick will be to convince the global planners that making energy an easily affordable commodity to the entire world will undoubtedly reduce the world population and therefore the consumption of hydrocarbons.

Last edited 10 months ago by Pop Piasa
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  meab
July 17, 2022 5:48 pm

According to AOC, we have less than 8 years to make the transition.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 2:51 am

only transition she’ll get to see in 8yrs would be a sexchange

Richard Page
Reply to  meab
July 18, 2022 11:15 am

Unfortunately you still need oodles of copper to get the energy from where it’s produced to where it’s needed.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 17, 2022 3:58 pm

Consider also the concrete wasted on these towering menaces.
Homebuilding and highway expansion are getting screwed by these things.

What will the rent seekers think when companies go bust and leave a dangerous hulk of a turbine for the property owner to remove?

Smart kids will figure out how to make steady income off of this later on.

Larry in Texas
July 17, 2022 10:50 am

The world is run by idiots who depend upon (and are blinded by) their own models, charts, graphs, and computers, without standing back and actually calculating real-world impacts and real world data. Our children are being miseducated by these same idiots, too. So this particular article comes as no surprise to me. Good job, Eric.

Rich Lambert
Reply to  Larry in Texas
July 17, 2022 1:58 pm

Don’t forget the role that greed plays.

July 17, 2022 10:54 am

re: “It seems a pity nobody ran some numbers BEFORE making promises and spending billions on an energy transition which we don’t have the resources to make happen.”

Centrally-planned, top-down command and control economies do that …

Examples of a command economy include the likes of China, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and Vietnam. Straight out of Wiki/Google …

Oh – Did I mention that the US has seemed to have entered that domain?

Last edited 10 months ago by _Jim
Reply to  _Jim
July 21, 2022 12:18 am

Russia hasn’t been centrally planned since the collapse of the USSR.

In many ways it has a freer economy than the USA.

July 17, 2022 10:55 am

Here is a chart that shows the abundance of elements in the earths crust. As you can see, copper is a trace element compared to others, so large undiscovered copper deposits are unlikely.

element abundance.jpg
Reply to  Doonman
July 17, 2022 1:12 pm

Wonder why the constituent components of hydrocarbon fuels didn’t show up on the list … nor did the Hydrogen ‘locked up’ in the planet’s oceans … I realize this was a list of elements in the earths crust BUT … these other elements are within reach just maybe not counted as ‘crust’ materials?

Last edited 10 months ago by _Jim
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 5:55 pm

Most economically mineable resources have to be concentrated well beyond their average crustal abundance. There are many geological processes that do that. However, it is life that captures and concentrates carbon and hydrogen, and it has been doing so for at least a half-billion years, and probably about a billion. Life has saved us a lot of energy by concentrating these critical elements.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 8:52 am

Yes, but crustal abundance usage is a quick and easy way to spot complete ignorance in comments and other postings related to perceived scarcity.

Richard Page
Reply to  _Jim
July 18, 2022 6:23 am

Absolutely – they’re not crust elements at all; they are sedimentary deposits effectively on the surface compared with the depths where these elements are found.

Reply to  Doonman
July 18, 2022 8:53 am

Get a clue next time.

July 17, 2022 10:57 am

All renewable energy so called “solutions” suffer from the shoot – ready – aim mentality prevalent with the Green crowd. Not enough resources to achieve the goal? No problem, the people are willing to get by with less because they know how important that goal is even if it can’t be realistically achieved.

Reply to  markl
July 17, 2022 11:31 am

We’re just one bad winter away from a widespread realization that GangGreen is not credible.

Shoki Kaneda
July 17, 2022 11:00 am

Here’s an idea that will help. Junk all the windmills and recycle the copper.

Walter Sobchak
July 17, 2022 11:15 am

When she was a toddler our now 40 year old daughter loved the movie “Annie“. She watched it every day for a couple of years. Seared into my memory is the scene where Daddy Warbucks is shouting in to his telephone: “Buy copper, buy copper”.

Still a great investment strategy, huh?

Right-Handed Shark
July 17, 2022 11:32 am

How much copper is in a typical EV charge cable and how much will a scrapyard pay for it? Asking for a friend..

Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 17, 2022 12:17 pm

Not very much. Your friend is going to need a lot of them.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
July 17, 2022 5:57 pm

No problem. It will quickly replace stealing catalytic converters as a way to subsidize one’s drug addiction.

Alex B
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 1:55 am

It already does in some parts of the world. I have read several times that copper was stolen in the Netherlands, stopping trains because signals and points went out of operation. If I recall well even newly installed power lines disappeared before they were put in operation.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Alex B
July 18, 2022 5:55 am

Copper harvesting is a huge problem for railroads.

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
July 18, 2022 12:45 pm

A query.
Would copper-coated aluminium wires still attract the same nefarious people?
Are such wires more difficult to melt/convert to ingots that can be reused?
If so – and I am asking, not suggesting – then that might, in some applications, be a plus mark.


Tim Gorman
Reply to  auto
July 18, 2022 4:36 pm

You think the people that will do this will be able to tell the difference between copper vs copper-clad aluminum?

Melting point for copper is about 2000F and for aluminum is about 1200F. If you can control the temperature closely enough you can melt the aluminum away from the copper but it will probably just make a mess in your kiln. You aren’t going to do it in a bonfire in a barrel.

Usually the bonfire is used to melt away the insulation on the copper wire leaving just the copper.

Reply to  Alex B
July 19, 2022 3:34 pm

In South America, and likely elsewhere, people could not get telephone service because of the theft of the copper cables. Cellphone service exploded in those countries when introduced.

Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 18, 2022 1:02 pm

30 years back copper based cable (extension cords, ribbon cable, ethernet cable, …) sold to a local metal yard for 10 cents a pound. Al was a buck, mild steel a penny.

Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
July 19, 2022 3:28 pm

About $10 worth of copper scrap at today’s prices. Get a good bolt cutter, go to a charging station with a half-dozen chargers, and you’ll make $60, tax free, in about ten minutes. It’s already a problem wherever the cables are used. It may be chump change for us, but it’s easy pickings for someone looking for a quick $20.

July 17, 2022 11:43 am

How much Copper is required for each 1,2, or 5 megawatt wind turbine?
How much Copper is required for each new power transformer used to down voltage for each new charging station for home use?
How much Copper is required for each new charging station?
How much Copper is required to replace the electrical infrastructure required to replace diesel and gasoline energy.

If these Green Clowns get to 25% of their green goal by 2050 I‘ll be impressed; that don’t include Nuclear, wood pellets, or hydro power.

Reply to  DipChip
July 17, 2022 1:52 pm

re: “How much Copper is required for each new power transformer used to down voltage for each new charging station for home use?”

Offline (rectified, directly-connected) switch-mode power supplies using relatively high frequencies reduce the copper (and transformer steel) required to fewer turns around high-permeability ferrite cores … synchronous rectifiers furthermore reduce the loss otherwise experienced using simple diodes in the output rectification …

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 2:06 pm

That something is possible, does not prove that it is an economic option.
How much does the a high power, high frequency generator cost?
How much energy gets lost in capacitive and inductive loads due to the high frequencies?

Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2022 2:30 pm

re: “That something is possible”

No. Switch mode designs save ALL the way around (cost, size, weight, even efficiency). For crying out loud, you’re using two or three switch mode power supplies RIGHT NOW to access the internet in your computer, monitor and cableTV modem or iPhone and its accompanying power supply! You just don’t know “tech”!

The recent microwave ovens have done away with the ‘usual’ MOT transformer so THAT SHOULD TELL YOU something about COSTS of these things. Power FETs are cheap, and the ‘science’ behind ferrite materials is now well-known too.

Oh – its MarkW a well-known clown in areas concerning tech, never mind. I might as well be talking to a DOG about PHYSICS. Hey Dufus, at TI we were using 2N5157 bipolar TO-3 cased transistors in an airborne RADAR transmitter power supply in a design dating from the 1980’s … we qualified a production lot of those transistors using a pulse energy test on each transistor at 2 kW peak … again, you don’t know your ‘tech’.

Last edited 10 months ago by _Jim
Jim Gorman
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 4:26 pm

I think you are missing the fact that power is “Voltage * Current” or “I^2 * R”. You can postulate that switching power supplies will reduce the power that needs to be delivered, but it really doesn’t. For example, the lights in your house are going to need say 400 watts total. The power coming in must equal 400 watts. A switching power supply running at say 90% efficiency will need to put out 400 watts and will draw 440 watts. You never get something for nothing.

You also miss the ancillary components required for filtering, toroid transformers, and circuit traces.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
July 17, 2022 8:22 pm

It’s also true that all components have both inductance and capacitance. It takes a lot of careful design work to minimize these parasitic effects. You also have to be careful about how your circuit is laid out on the board, since these surface traces can be a major source of parasitic inductance and capacitance at high frequencies.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 4:52 pm

we qualified a production lot of those transistors using a pulse energy test on each transistor at 2 kW peak … again, you don’t know your ‘tech’.”

Who do you think you are trying to fool? Pulsed use is very low heat generation. For power use with appliances, etc you are concerned about *continuous* use.

“you’re using two or three switch mode power supplies RIGHT NOW to access the internet in your computer, monitor and cableTV modem or iPhone and its accompanying power supply! You just don’t know “tech”!”

And those power supplies are NOISE GENERATORS. I know. I’ve tested them with spectrum analyzers trying to run down noise on my power line and in my amateur radio. Put them in a poorly shielded computer and they can even interfere with wifi connections to a smart TV.

You can use all the ad hominem attacks you want. That doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Tim Gorman
July 17, 2022 9:01 pm

Just put an AM receiver next to a typical power brick and it will tell all about switching noise.

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 8:19 pm

I”ve probably designed more switching supplies than you have ever seen.
But go ahead, and declare that those who know more than you are just clowns. BTW, I see that you have been repeatedly schooled regarding most of your claims on this thread, by a lot of people, not just me.

BTW, I notice you didn’t actually answer any of the questions I’ve posed. Can I assume that this is because you can’t, and you really don’t know as much as you claim?

Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 9:29 pm

Lets add the switch mode is always inherently more prone to failure as a transformer will take a lot more abuse.

Remember the moron public will be plugging into this stuff .. that means they will do stupid stuff like daisy chain twenty power boards and overload the hell out of everything. The size and weight of a transformer usually works in it’s favor it will take the heating while giving a fuse a chance to work.

Last edited 10 months ago by LdB
Reply to  LdB
July 18, 2022 7:19 am

The really sad thing is that _Jim was so eager to disagree with me, that he never noticed that I never disagreed with him.
I never said that switching power supplies don’t work, my only comment was to economics and over all efficiency.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  _Jim
July 17, 2022 4:44 pm

I use switched-mode power supplies in my amateur radio station. Switched-mode power supplies are NOISE GENERATORS. Ones that are not are *expensive* because of all the shielding and bypassing that is required. They can interfere with wifi connections as well as my amateur radio frequencies. If you use unshielded internet cable and connectors, the noise can get onto your ethernet cables as well. They will *not* be a panacea in residential use. They are likely to cause far more problems than simple copper transformers will.

Because of their complexity switched mode power supplies fail much more often. I have a 35 year old linear power supply as the feed for one of my stations – all I’ve ever done is replace one or two power transistors, cheap and easy to do. I don’t have a switched power supply that is older than five years old. Getting replacement parts has always been a supply problem and manufacturer repair is expensive.

The old simple HVAC system I installed in this house when it was built lasted for 25 years before the furnace burners began to crack and became a carbon monoxide hazard. The newer one I installed has already had to have two circuit boards replaced in the past ten years. Thankfully not expensive but a real pain-in-the-backside when the furnace dies in the winter an you have to go hunt up parts somewhere in town.

BTW, a 75 amp, 13.8v switched power supply will run you about $400 for a continuous duty one – one that is not guaranteed against being a noise generator.

July 17, 2022 12:33 pm

I prefer Silver. Better conductor, better for my silver investments…
but, copper in the ground at 2 to 3% is money in the bank. Even has potential, as soon as the Chinese buy it…

Reply to  Enginer01
July 17, 2022 2:57 pm

You can get that just mining pennies. They are about 2-1/2% copper with the balance being mostly zinc.

John Dilks
Reply to  Fraizer
July 18, 2022 7:31 pm

True, but there aren’t enough pennies in the world to make a dent in the copper needs for this GND BS.

Rod Evans
July 17, 2022 12:45 pm

Can’t wait for one of the lame brained woke politicians, pushing the Net Zero agenda comes out with this, when he/she is told we don’t have enough copper to do it., they say “Then make some more”…. It has happened before and the idiot still doesn’t understand the depth of their own ignorance of physics and/or chemistry..
NB If you have a spare supernova, it is quite possible to do it….

Last edited 10 months ago by Rod Evans
Reply to  Rod Evans
July 17, 2022 12:51 pm

re: “and the idiot still doesn’t understand the depth of their own ignorance of physics and/or chemistry.”

Or of the work Dunning and Kruger did …

July 17, 2022 1:04 pm

It was about 12 years ago when we woke with no telephone service. At the time there was no cell service available either. Drove down the road towards the village and met up with the largest group of telephone trucks and workers I have ever seen. Turns out that overnight someone had somehow managed to steal over 1 mile of 3 inch telephone cable, probably for the copper. They were caught about 6 months later, trying to burn off the insulation from the copper.
Also remember a lot of air conditioners being lifted for the copper tubing in the condensers.

Where there’s a will there’s a way…

Richard Page
Reply to  yirgach
July 18, 2022 6:32 am

There will be an epidemic of missing power cables and components in future years. The more cables and wires we install, the more people will want to take them. Sooner or later, somebody’s going to hit on the bright idea of putting more of them underground where they won’t be obvious and will be harder to get at – it’ll be cost effective if you balance it against stolen or missing cable.

Last edited 10 months ago by Richard Page
July 17, 2022 1:26 pm

This is a huge rising problem, largely ignored by governments and media, and it’s being more and more of a stone in the shoe for activists. Electric cars are important as copper consumers but aero-generators and solar panels are also important (these latest one consume 11.1 tons of silver for each square km). An offshore eolian tower costs about 67 tons of copper for instance. However, do not forget many other things that are not required in so much quantity but are also an important bottleneck such as neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, germanium, silver, palladium and many others. Probably we will cry in future for the times when oil, natural gas and coal were used to produce energy. We can use these things with much more efficiency and even with much less impact while we cannot figure out how to get a constant, clean, highly available and efficient way to produce energy.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  J N
July 18, 2022 7:10 am

A recent report for the European Commission looked at the combined critical raw materials use in different technologies in the EU in 2030 and 2050. All amounts are x current usage.

2030 2050
Lithium x18 x58
Graphite x4 x14
Cobalt x5 x14.5
Disprosium x5 x12
Neodymium x2 x4
Nickel x1 x3.5
Praseodymium x5 x12

In the case of lithium that is an increase of 108,000 tonnes by 2030 and 348,000 tonnes by 2050. For cobalt an increase of 150,000 tonnes by 2030 and 435,000 tonnes by 2050.

Now imagine the mining needs if the whole world is aiming for net zero in 2050!

The report also noted that the EU currently only provides 1% of the critical raw materials for wind energy.

‘Critical Raw Materials in Technologies and Sectors in the EU. A Foresight Study’

Jeff L
July 17, 2022 1:31 pm

As the saying goes:
“Fail to plan …. plan to fail”
Beyond the copper , show me just one engineering study that shows how this so called “energy transition” will successfully be implemented. Note to Brandon – that’s how things are implemented in the real world.

Reply to  Jeff L
July 17, 2022 9:36 pm

Climate clowns don’t need engineers they just need to think it and the unicorns will deliver.

July 17, 2022 1:36 pm

Now, I haven’t checked smelter capacity, or looked at concentration plants (which are limited by the availability of water, here) – but there are at least three sites here in Arizona that could be producing ore by early next year. IF the eco-loons could be shut down, that is.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  writing observer
July 17, 2022 6:02 pm

What is the life expectancy of those proposed mines?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 1:03 pm

Resources in known deposits globally, contain 1.6B tons (USGS). Undiscovered resources in favorable geology globally and in known copper districts are est. at 3.5B tons (recent USGS study.)

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 5:33 pm

I don’t have those numbers handy. I do know that when I was growing up – more than fifty years ago, the criteria for opening a new pit was 20+ years of economic production. These days, it is almost certainly 30+ or 40+, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is much higher. Partially less rich bodies, mostly much higher overhead per ore ton.

Some years ago, I do know that the pioneers in in-situ concentration were estimating 50+ years of operation where they were using that technology.

The mines I grew up near, just a few miles away, were started back between 1906 and 1909 and began producing concentrate between 1911 and 1915. Ups and downs, depending on the economy (particularly wars), but still producing as of this day.

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
July 17, 2022 1:54 pm

So…. “Net Zero” is viable, it’s those darned shortages that are causing it to fail. So, it’s not “real” net zero. Riiiight….

Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
July 17, 2022 2:01 pm


Watch – I say **watch** for the definition of “net zero” to change the way the definition of “vaccine” changed over the last few years (in order to “meet goals”; can you say “Mission Accomplished” while aboard an aircraft carrier with that banner splashed across it?)

Last edited 10 months ago by _Jim
Reply to  _Jim
July 18, 2022 1:33 pm

While not particularly fond of “W”, I will point out that the “Mission Accomplished” banner was put up by the ship, for the ship’s crew, upon returning to port after a successful mission. Somehow people transformed a single aircraft carrier mission into the whole armed conflict and assumed that “W” was claiming that the whole thing was over. It was more like the first stage of the Tour de France. Yes it’s over, but tomorrow you have to get back on the bike.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  John_C
July 18, 2022 2:24 pm

The Leftwing Media completely misrepresented “Mission Accomplished”. Like they do everything else when it comes to Republicans and conservaties.

Gary Pearse
July 17, 2022 2:03 pm

Eric, almost every article I read on mineral resource availability is grossly wrong (I have corrected copper before). I can tell an amateur study by such remarks as

“…grow to 53 million metric tons in 2050 – more than all the copper consumed in the world between 1900 and 2021,” S&P Global said.”

First, 35% of copper consumed is recycled copper, which means that a fair proportion of copper consumed is consumed every year.

Second, the USGS (the best mineral commodity source in the world) reported that existing mines contained resources of 1.6 billion MT in 2015 we apparently need another 25 million MT by 2035. They also did a study based on favorable geology in regions known for their copper mining, estimating 3.5 billion MT yet undiscovered. I have no doubt that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the whole marxist-climate shiteree for other reasons. The mining industry won’t be the bottleneck whatever happens.

On my cell phone I didnt mess with pdf links, but, anyone interested can Google USGS Mineral statistics for their excellent full info preprints for their Annual Minerals Yearbooks. For good summaries they publish up to date 2-3 page annual world summaries.

I have been threatening to do an article on mineral resources for WUWT for quite a while. I’m not doing an awful lot lot these days, but in my 80s it seems to me I’m busy!

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 17, 2022 2:06 pm

Typo: A fair proportion of copper consumed is reconsumed each year

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 18, 2022 12:51 pm

No, recycling isnt enough, but 1.6 billion tons in known deposits is 65 times the forecast added 25 million tons! The mining industry wont be the bottleneck.

michael hart
July 17, 2022 2:13 pm

I read something similar only a few years ago. Someone, can’t remember who, calculated that if the UK (just the UK, Ma’am), suddenly switched to wholly electric cars, it would require about a decade or so of the world’s entire current copper production.

Ain’t gonna happen.

But investing in metals still might be a good long term idea. (I am not not qualified to give financial advice. Only to identify idiots when I see, hear, and read them).

Richard Page
Reply to  michael hart
July 18, 2022 6:36 am

And consider that copper is more than twice as plentiful as cobalt or any of the other EV components. There just isn’t enough accessible to replace every ICE car with an EV.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michael hart
July 18, 2022 7:27 am

The paper ‘Mining our green future’ by Prof Richard Herrington, Dept of Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London published in Nature Reviews calculated that

“To switch the UK’s fleet of 31.3m ICEVs to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) it would take an estimated 207,000 tonnes of cobalt, 264,000 tonnes lithium carbonate, 7200 tonnes neodymium and dysprosium, and 2,362,500 tonnes copper”

“This amount is twice the current annual world production of cobalt, an entire years world production of neodymium and three quarters of the world production of lithium”

July 17, 2022 2:44 pm

Exactly, how can it be sustainable if you can’t get it?. And doesn’t work as needed?

Reply to  Olen
July 17, 2022 9:38 pm

It’s in the definition … someone let Nick Stokes in and look what happened.

Pop Piasa
July 17, 2022 3:29 pm

How ironic to waste copper (and all the other metals, petroleum products, birds and Balsa trees) on virtual trinkets of energy production and transportation which never reproduce the energy required to make them and become recyclable materials in a geological microsecond.
Green power is only as sustainable as the voracious consumption of the materials that comprise (and compromise) its very existence.

Last edited 10 months ago by Pop Piasa
July 17, 2022 5:01 pm

One word, “asteroids”.

Reply to  JimS
July 17, 2022 9:39 pm

How does one get to asteroids in a net zero way?

Richard Page
Reply to  JimS
July 18, 2022 6:42 am

Two words – “Nickel-Iron”. Most asteroids are rock, a few are rock/ice and a few are nickel-iron rich rock. I’ve never come across references to copper on asteroids. Whups – further research shows that copper is indeed a feature; trace amounts of copper may sometimes be found in the nickel-iron deposits. So, trace amounts from a minority of asteroids – quite the treasure trove then.

Jim Gorman
July 17, 2022 5:21 pm

The copper is only part of the problem. It must smelted and drawn into wire then spun into the correct sizes. To do this in the time frame required will probably necessitate new manufacturing plants.

THEN, the wire must be wound on transformer iron in the correct shape and size plus enclosures, insulators, and miscellaneous hardware. Distribution cable must be insulated. Newer high voltage lines will need larger insulators, with wider spacing on cross arms, new switches and fuse mechanisms. None of this has even been ordered.

This is all a joke and will come crashing down at some point. I have managed some pretty large projects with lots of little pieces. Anyone who thinks the government, Congress or Executive, has the expertise and wherewithal to know where to start is living down a rabbit hole along with Alice!

if you think the blame game being played by the Biden administration is fanciful right now, just wait and see who gets blamed for the upcoming mess. Anyone want to bet that us ordinary citizens won’t receive the lions share of blame for not doing enough?

Clyde Spencer
July 17, 2022 5:23 pm

Almost all copper produced today comes from low-grade porphyry deposits in granitic rocks. It requires huge amounts of energy to obtain the copper, because most of what is excavated is waste rock. Below is a view of the Kennecott open-pit mine in Bingham Canyon, near Salt Lake City. For perspective, the benches are about 40′ high, and the haul trucks have tires >8′ in diameter. See if you can spot any.

comment image

Copper mining does considerable environmental damage, raises concerns about ground-water pollution, and it is questionable that trucks of current size or larger can be run off batteries. Therefore, the prospect of ramping up production to meet the increased demand for copper, is not good.

Last edited 10 months ago by Clyde Spencer
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 17, 2022 8:56 pm

If you believe in perpetual motion machines, then ‘obviously’ the plan will work. However, in the real world, where loaded trucks have to climb a hill, and the empty trucks will go back down, and there will be losses from mechanical friction and flexing of the tires, I think that, at best, it can be used to supplement chargers and reduce the inevitable charging time. An unknown is what the constant charging and dis-charging will do to the longevity of the batteries. One reason that open-pit mines are used is the economics. Battery-powered trucks will undoubtedly change the economics. Somebody needs to do the detailed analysis before we get to the point of no return.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 18, 2022 8:47 am

And they have some byproducts of interest.

Rio Tinto to build new tellurium plant at Kennecott mine

Reply to  ResourceGuy
July 18, 2022 5:56 pm

Molybdenum is a big byproduct of many copper mines. Much in demand for high temperature alloys and oil cracking catalysts. (Strangely, also for fertilizers applied to cauliflower fields.)

Rhenium, another byproduct, is valued for much the same reasons. At ~1ppb, it would never be mined for itself, even at a price around $1,500/kilogram. But it pretty much falls out into your hands when you process certain copper ores.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 19, 2022 12:12 pm

Bingham Canyon used to use an electric rwy.

Iain Reid
July 17, 2022 11:55 pm

This is just one of very many reasons why net zero will not happen by 2050.
It is a fantasy held by technically illiterate politicians and political advisors.

July 18, 2022 2:40 am

makes me grin
the warmists hate mines cos Co2 fuel etc
rather funny

July 18, 2022 4:33 am

According to a youtube video posted recently by an EV owner & enthusiast, there’s been an outbreak of thefts of copper cables from EV charging points in the north of England. In one case a car had been left to charge overnight at a dealership, and the cable was cut out between the charger and the car – the battery was fully charged when this happened so charging had stopped; the severed connector was left locked to the car. Repair costs to the charger were said to dwarf the value of the stolen copper.

Reply to  DaveS
July 18, 2022 7:45 am

The sad thing is that for most of these resource type thefts, the cost of repairs is many times greater than the value of what was stolen.
Even if they just steal a roll of cable that was just laying on the ground. The value of the cable, as a cable, is many times the value of the raw copper in the cable.

Last edited 10 months ago by MarkW
D Boss
July 18, 2022 5:00 am

The conclusion of this report is correct, the increase in required copper for EV’s, and wiring infrastructure to power the chargers for said EV’s is not sustainable. However I challenge some of the numbers used.

Modern ICE powered passenger cars (excluding hybrids) do NOT have 53 pounds of copper “in the drivetrain”. The drivetrain comprises the engine, transmission, differential(s), drive shaft(s), axles and wheels/brakes. Some copper or brass is used in bushings or seals in these components, and a small amount is used in various sensors and in the ignition coils and/or spark plug wires. Let’s put the direct drivetrain copper at 2 lbs.

Most of the copper in an ICE vehicle is in the main wiring loom, and in the ancillary components such as starter motor, alternator, blower motor, wiper motors. Main wiring loom is approximately 5 pounds (I work as an automotive repair tech, and have direct tactile experience with each of these, along with the entire drivetrain)

Starter motor and starting cables are another 5 lbs of Cu. Alternator and blower and wiper motors – 5-7 lbs.

So we have 2 (drivetrain) + 5 (main loom) + 5 (starting) + 7 (remaining motors) = 19 lbs or 8.62 kg of Cu. Lets throw in +25% for contingency, that yields 23.75 lbs (10.78 kg).

Now let’s view a pure electric passenger car:

It still requires the main loom, and the ancillary motors – in fact it requires more than an ICE, because it must have a separate electric motor to drive the air conditioning compressor, and it must have a separate motor for power steering pump, both of which in an ICE are belt drive off the engine. It does not require a starter motor, but the extra motors for A/C and Power Steering, and for brake boosting (ICE engine uses engine vacuum for brake boosting, so an EV either needs a vacuum pump motor, or a bigger power steering pump/motor to provide hydraulic brake boosting) far outweigh the missing starter motor.

And all those extra motors and controls and the drive motor controller, adds to the main loom, approximately doubling it’s weight to 10 lbs.

Then there is the main drive “train” motor or motors. At least 100 to 150 lbs of Cu needed there, and the cabling to deliver the many hundreds of Amps at hundreds of volts, well add another 20 lbs there.

So the EV stacks up as follows:

Drive Train motors 150 lbs
drive train cabling 20 lbs
Ancillary motors 15 lbs
main loom 10 lbs

Total 195 lbs (88.48 kg)

So EV’s need roughly 8 times more Copper than does an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered passenger vehicle.

As I said, the report reaches the correct conclusion on the ratio of Cu needed for electrification of passenger transportation, but the specific numbers are faulty.

Reply to  D Boss
July 18, 2022 7:49 am

Most of the weight an electric motor is the copper windings, and these motors weigh much more than 2 pounds.

D Boss
Reply to  MarkW
July 19, 2022 4:59 am

Mark W needs to check on some electric motor 101 material! No Mark, most of the weight in almost every electric motor type, is the steel of the armature/rotor and the steel of the stator.

When is the last time you changed a starter motor, or a blower motor, or an alternator in a car? Have you ever taken one apart? How about the last time you designed and built an electric motor from scratch, including laser cutting the rotor and stator steel sheets, and winding the coils?

I have done all of these things, many, many times. Before semi retiring and doing automotive repair to stay active, I ran an R&D lab designing and testing electric motors and generators.

Have a look at the following cutaway of an automotive alternator:

Now the rotor and stator cores are in fact steel, as is the shaft and bearings. the outer case is aluminum, and the copper wire is visible. Breaking down the ratio of the areas and deriving the volume of each materials is as follows:

Steel – bearings/shaft 2 units of volume
– rotor 3 units
– stator 3 units
Total Steel = 8 units of volume, steel density 7.8 , steel mass = 62.4 units of mass

Cu is 2.5 units of volume, Cu density is 8.9, so Cu mass is 22.25 units of mass

Al is 3.5 units of volume, Al density being 2.7 so Al mass is 9.45. units of mass

Clearly the most mass comes from the steel.

Starter motor is similar ratio of steel to copper, and small actuator motors like for cabin air flow, or windshield wipers have lower fraction of Cu to steel, and have an order of magnitude less Cu. you can pick up a blower or wiper motor with one finger, however you need both hands unless you are a gorrilla to lift either an alternator or starter motor.

the notion there is 52 lbs of Cu in an ICE only car is nonsense!

Tim Gorman
Reply to  D Boss
July 19, 2022 7:57 am

you can pick up a blower or wiper motor with one finger, however you need both hands unless you are a gorrilla to lift either an alternator or starter motor.”

Malarky. I can’t tell you how many car, tractor, and semi-tractor starters and alternators I have installed in my past life as a mechanic. BY MYSELF, no gorilla assistant! And I have undercut the rotors in things like generators – without tools using a broken piston ring to remove the carbon buildup, so I do know how to take one apart and fix it AND put it back together again.

Attached is a cutaway of an EV drive motor and a typical dc motor. There is a huge amount of copper in the motor itself. The steel part of the load comes from the cores (as you note), the mounting shell and and involved gears (if any) in the motor.

Mark is correct, however. EV’s do have much more weight in copper than do ICE vehicles due to the increased size of the motors and ancillary equipment involved.

July 18, 2022 7:22 am

The Demprogs plan is to order out like everything else while forcing the transition ever onward with no delays allowed.

Tesla’s Chinese Battery Maker Is Scoping Out Factory Sites in Mexico (

July 18, 2022 8:21 am

Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust, but unfortunately it cannot substitute for copper in many places. In the 1970s they tried wiring homes with aluminum and many of them had house fires because aluminum junctions with other metals are not electrically stable.

July 18, 2022 8:26 am

There’s another problem with the transition from fossil fuels to unicorn farts that no one likes to talk about. Homes and businesses that are heated by oil or natgas will be forced to switch to electric heat. This means the electric grid will experience the same strain in the middle of winter that it does in the middle of summer when everyone runs their air conditioners.

Is the Obiden crowd ready to address a sagging national electric grid? (Answer: of course not … they have backup generators fired by the same fuels they want to ban for the rest of us.)

July 18, 2022 8:58 am

Maybe slave labor can help the US and EU achieve net zero.

Chinese Lithium Giant Pulls EVs Deeper Into Forced Labor Glare (

July 18, 2022 10:52 am

Bought some heavy duty jumper cables because the wire was much cheaper than bulk copper cables. Only to discover the wire was copper clad aluminum. Now know what CCA label means.

Testing with ohm meter shows CCA is not equivalent.

Richard Page
Reply to  ferdberple
July 18, 2022 11:20 am

“Resistance is futile.” Couldn’t resist!

Reply to  ferdberple
July 18, 2022 1:44 pm

And easily overlooked with jumper cables because the battery has a CCA (cold crank amps) number.

July 18, 2022 1:23 pm

So glad the smart people thought this through before moving us back to the stone age.
My son the electrician laughs when we discuss the green revolution, he says this will create more winners and losers than ever before. Sounds like he may be right

John Kelly
July 18, 2022 4:55 pm

Obviously! These nett zero/climate change idiots have forgotten to ask engineers, and particularly mining engineers, if their wacky dream is at all possible. Apart from needing to increase copper production for electric vehicles, more copper (and aluminium) is needed for new transmission lines, copper for car chargers, copper for new wiring in houses and apartments, etc. And then there are the other metals that are in the same box. How much more lithium? I read in the past week that Bolivia is planning to help the world out by producing 40% of the world’s lithium by 2030. A great lot of good Bolivia will be. Its spent nearly US$1B in the past +10 years to so far produce 500 tonnes of LiCO3 per annum and some fertiliser. And then there is the forgotten metal – TIN. Although it is used in very tiny amounts in everything electric, including electric vehicles, its usage in electric vehicles is about twice that in a ICE vehicle. Mined tin production has been in deficit for years. If it weren’t for scrap recycling then there would have been a tin catastrophe years ago. And no, tin can’t be substituted. There are just a few potential new tin mines on the drawing boards. No where near enough to fulfil this stupid pipe dream. And I’m sure the same can be said for nickel and cobalt. Absolute bloody morons. Nothing can be planned or constructed without engineers, and all the idiot politicians and bureaucrats all over the world (including Australia but except China I suspect) have forgotten to ask the engineers if it is possible.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights