There are concerts that the growing price of copper – with high global demand outstripping supply – could hold back the renewables revolution this decade.

The global price in copper this week hit a record high, with inventories on the London Metal Exchange the lowest since 1974.

Copper, one of the best conductors of electricity, is extensively used in the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels. Offshore wind farms, due to their extensive cabling, are particularly copper-intensive, requiring 9.6 metric tons of copper per megawatt (MW) of energy capacity. Onshore wind farms and solar photovoltaics (PV) are also highly copper-intensive, requiring 4.3 tons and 5 tons of copper per MW, respectively, Forbes Magazine reports.

Analysts have now warned that the copper industry needs to invest US$100 billion to avoid what could be an annual supply deficit of 4.7 million metric tons by 2030. This cost growth is creating a headache for renewable energy sector, cutting into margins and creating bottlenecks as demand for renewable infrastructure skyrockets.

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