#4. Copper USGS data shows that Russia produced 920,000 tonnes of refined copper in 2021, about 3.5% of the world total, out of which Nornickel produced 406,841 tonnes.
UMMC and Russian Copper Company are the other two major producers, with Asia and Europe being Russia’s key export markets.
Prices of green metals, including copper, are projected to reach historical peaks for an unprecedented, sustained period in a net-zero emissions scenario. Copper prices are sitting at all-time highs thanks to surging demand, especially in developed countries, with increasing usage in electric vehicles and wind farms, solar panels and the power grid, combined with tight supply.
Benchmark copper prices on the London Metal Exchange are currently sitting at $10,100 per ton, not far removed from its May 2021 all-time high of 10,724.50 per ton.
Copper is being billed as the new oil, with the ‘green’ shift in the post-COVID economy supporting higher demand for copper and other base metals since EVs use about 4x more copper than gasoline-powered vehicles. The International Copper Association estimates that the rapid rise of EVs will raise copper demand in EVs from 185,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1.74 million tonnes by 2027.
This is one massive system, and the sources that feed it electricity have become increasingly diversified. And while the shortage of natural gas was a big reason for the power outages in Texas, it was certainly not a shortage of gas that caused the blackouts in California last summer during a heatwave. Grid reliability has come to the fore because the decarbonization of electricity generation is not all fun, games, and zero-emission power.
The U.S. grid, as it is now, cannot support the massive shift to low-carbon power generation, Westhaven Power says. Operators need better control of regional grids to be able to anticipate dangerous situations like the ones in Texas and California, but obtaining it would become trickier with more intermittent wind and solar feeding the grid, the utility explains.
“What events in Texas and California demonstrate is the shortcomings of having highly-centralised power systems and the true value of resilience and flexibility in our energy grids, a value that is going to become even more vital as we continue to transition to renewable energy,” says Dr. Toby Gill, the chief executive of UK-based climate tech startup Intelligent Power Generation.