Renewables

Solr Panel and Wind Turbines

Commercial, industrial and utility sectors are installing solar photovoltaic panels and building high-megawatt wind farms to generate clean, efficient power to meet our rising energy demands. These energy sources are plentiful and do not continuously generate carbon or other emissions.

Videos

  • Video Icon Oak Creek Wind Energy
    Oak Creek Energy Systems Inc. is a pioneer in gigawatt-scale wind energy with its long-term expansion of wind power capacity in the Tehachapi-Mojave area of California. This video describes a somewhat unique case where one wind farm was constructed to serve one major customer, and explores the infrastructure necessary to keep the turbines up and running.

Education

  • Infographic - Copper's Role in the Transition to Clean Energy ​[PDF - 1Mb]
    This new infographic illustrates copper's expanding role North America's transition to clean power sources, from renewables, like solar and wind, to storage and electric vehicles.
  • WIND: North American Wind Energy Copper Content Analysis [PDF]
    This report analyzes copper’s growing use for renewable wind energy through 2027. Between 2018 and 2027, it’s estimated 48,721 MW worth of wind energy installations will be constructed with an estimated demand of 4.76 tons of copper per MW. 
  • SOLAR: North American Solar PV Copper Content Analysis [PDF]
    This report presents a forecast for the North American solar PV market through 2027. Between 2018 and 2027, North America is expected to install 137 GW of residential and commercial & industrial solar capacity as well as 125 GW of utility-scale solar. This forecast also estimates during the same timeframe nearly one million tons of copper will be needed for this growing technology.
  • Current and Projected Wind and Solar Renewable Electric Generating Capacity in the Domestic Market 
    The Copper Development Association conducted a study and examined renewable energy (RE) production, including land-based and offshore wind; residential, commercial and utility-scale photovoltaic installations; concentrating thermal-solar electric plants; and geothermal plants.
  • Thermal Modeling of Electrical Conductors with Emphasis on Solar Heating [PDF - 205Kb]
    This short white paper by John Paschal, Jr., P.E. of Paschal Engineering, explains the basic principles of conductor temperature in sunlight and emphasizes the importance of Table 310.15(B)(2)(c) in the NEC.

Case Studies

Solar

Copper's electrical and thermal conductivity and high resistance to both atmospheric and aqueous corrosion makes it so valuable in solar energy systems.

Copper in Solar Technology infographic

Solar PV by the Numbers

Solar power systems can contain approximately 5.5 tons of copper per MW. Copper is in the heat exchangers of solar thermal units as well as in the wiring and cabling that transmits the electricity in photovoltaic solar cells.

It is projected that 262 GW of new solar installations between 2018 and 2027 in North America will require 1.9 billion lbs. of copper.

Solar is the third-largest renewable energy source in the United States power sector. [Source: EIA]

4,700%: the increase in U.S. solar generation between 2008 and 2018. [Source: EIA]

The top states using solar energy are California, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada and Florida. [Source: SEIA]

10,864,545: number of U.S. shipments of photovoltaic modules in 2017 [Source: EIA]

Charts of Copper Usage

Wind

Copper is vital in wind energy technologies including in the electrical grounding system for wind turbine farms.

Wind Farm infographic

Wind Power by the Numbers​

A three-megawatt wind turbine can contain up to 4.7 tons of copper with 53% of that demand coming from the cable and wiring, 24% from the turbine/power generation components, 4% from transformers, and 19% from turbine transformers.

Onshore wind farms use approximately 7,766 lbs. of copper per MW.

Offshore wind installation uses 21,068 lbs. of copper per MW. The cabling of the offshore wind farms accounts for the bulk of the copper usage.

6.5%: percentage of the country’s electricity generated by wind energy in 2018, enough to power 26 million homes. [Source: American Wind Energy Association]

8%: the capacity growth wind energy had in 2018 alone.

Onshore Vs. Offshore infographic