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Electric vehicles (EV) are at a tipping point as new models are being developed and global regulations are increasingly pushing for EV adoption. As EVs and charging stations continue to become more widespread and affordable, a significant amount of copper will be required to power this technology.

As demand for electric vehicles continues to increase, it will impact the demand for copper, which is used in both the vehicles themselves and in charging stations. According to the International Copper Association (ICA), while conventional cars contain 18 to 49 pounds of copper, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) use 132 pounds and battery electric vehicles (BEV) contain 183 pounds. A pure electric vehicle can contain more than a mile of copper wiring in its stator windings.

 “Copper’s superior conductivity and reliability are used to increase the efficiency of numerous electrical technology, from traditional motors and transformers to renewable energy technology,” said Zolaikha Strong, director of sustainable development for CDA. “The metal is vital to the global shift toward efficiency and sustainability, and its 100 percent recyclability makes copper itself a green material.”

A new report released by the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute for Electric Innovation (EEI/IEI) outlines an impressive sales forecast for plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in the U.S. through 2025 and identifies the charging infrastructure required to support this growth.

The report, Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales Forecast Through 2025 and the Charging Infrastructure Required, includes both PHEVs and BEVs within the scope of its forecast. It predicts that 7 million PEVs will be on the road by 2025, up from 567,000 today. Nearly 5 million charge ports will be necessary to support the increase in electric transportation, which will require a significant investment in charging infrastructure.

“The investment in charging ports and their accompanying infrastructure will be significant when you consider the cost of equipment, installation, permits and inspections” said Lisa Wood, executive director of IEI. “Electric companies are fully prepared to meet this challenge with innovative solutions and are already preparing for the integration of PEVs into the larger energy grid.”

As the report states, “customers are buying PEVs in record numbers, and the demand for charging infrastructure is growing.” While most consumers charge their vehicles at home currently, more stations are needed at the workplace and in public settings to enable longer trips. It is estimated that between 2.23 to 2.24 million charging stations will be needed in work and public locations by 2025.

As increasing affordability and availability continue to push the electric vehicle boom, electric companies and the copper industry alike have embraced the important role they have to play in this transition.

Published in the September 2017 Edition of American Recycler News