How does copper improve energy efficiency?
Copper has the highest electrical conductivity of all non-precious metals. Its properties make it the conductor of choice for wires, cables and electrical equipment, which represent about two thirds of copper use.
Copper also conducts heat much better than other metals, which is highly important for heat exchangers and heat sinks in electronic components. In terms of conductivity, only silver performs better, and the copper industry is developing innovative higher-conductivity materials to change that.
All other things being equal, higher electrical conductivity means higher energy efficiency, or for the same efficiency, it means more compact designs.
The compactness of copper conductors saves on other materials such as electrical steels, casing, insulation, connectors and cable mounting structures. Without copper, for the same efficiency, electrical equipment such as motors, transformers and cables would use 20% more materials. As a result, they would become larger and heavier.
When it comes to energy efficiency, copper’s role also extends beyond the product level. Through copper wires and cables, it also acts at the systems level to provide energy savings through management and controls. Often, these system-level energy and carbon savings are orders of magnitude larger than savings at the product level.
To improve copper’s applications for the benefit of copper users, the European Copper Institute has run campaigns for over 20 years advocating for greater efficiency in motors, transformers, cables, heat pumps, building automation and electric vehicles. We also promote and support best practices, such as energy management. See the links below for further information.