Wind Sector Drives Record Copper Demand

5.5 Million Tonnes of Copper by 2028

The offshore wind sector is set to drive record demand for copper over the next decade, according to analysis by research consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

The figures suggest that more than 650 gigawatts of new onshore wind capacity and 130 gigawatts of new offshore capacity will be added by 2028, consuming in excess of 5.5 million tonnes of copper.

"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,” said Henry Salisbury, Wood Mackenzie research analyst.

Breakbulk Demand

The increased demand is predicted to create opportunities for the breakbulk sector as shipments of turbines, cables and interconnectors steps up.

“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,” Salisbury explained.

Copper is required not only for the generator, power transformers, gearbox and tower cabling within a turbine but also for collector cables, linked to substations, and offshore distribution cables.

China and Europe to Lead

Globally, mass deployment in China will lead growth in demand for onshore capacity, with an average of 110 ktpa copper consumer per year to 2028. This is followed by the U.S., which will average 35 ktpa copper each year over the same period.

“The U.K., the Netherlands and Germany will lead offshore installation in the largest market; Europe. This is forecast to consume an average of 80 ktpa per year between 2018 and 2028,” Wood Mackenzie forecasts.

The firm notes that “developments in aluminium technology” could lead to increased substitution of copper and that offshore turbines will command “an increasing share of copper consumption.”