The major applications of copper are in electrical wires, roofing and plumbing and industry and machinery. Copper can be combined with other elements to create various alloys. A small part of the copper production is used in production of compounds for nutritional supplements, creation of fungicides and even some anti-bacterial compounds.
Electrical wiring constitutes the most prolific use of copper because copper’s unique conductivity properties set it apart. Copper wire is used in power generation, power transmission, power distribution, telecommunications and countless types of electrical equipment. Integrated circuits and printed circuit boards increasingly feature copper in lieu of aluminum because of its conductive properties. Copper’s greater conductivity as compared to other metallic materials enhances the electrical efficiency of motors. This is important because motors and motor driven systems account for nearly half of all global electricity consumption and more than two-thirds of all electricity used by industry.
Perhaps the most exciting application for copper will be in emerging renewable energy markets. Copper plays a vital role in sustainable electric energy, wind and solar installations and their related power transmission systems. The generation of electricity from renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and geothermal has a copper usage intensity that is typically four to six times greater than fossil fuels (“copper usage intensity” is an estimate of the pounds of copper necessary to install one megawatt of new power generating capacity). In fact, copper will remain an integral part of any renewable resource proliferation.