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A kilo more of copper increases environmental performance by 100 to 1,000 times

Thursday, 14 April 2011


It may sound strange, but the European Copper Institute has revealed that there is an inverse relation between the amount of copper used in a system and its energy use. According to the ECI, “lifecycle assessments shows that one additional kilogramme of copper used to improve energy efficiency has an environmental return of 100 to 1,000 times over the equipment lifetime”.

A kilo more of copper increases environmental performance by 100 to 1,000 times

“Copper: the more you use, the less you lose!” says the European Copper Institute. How can a kilogramme more of copper in a system contribution to actually saving energy? The ECI will reveal all during a webinar arranged in conjunction with Leonardo Energy today at 16:00h CET, in support of the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week.

The ECI explains that “increasing the use of copper can help reduce energy losses and improve the environmental performance of electrical motors, transformers, and renewable energy systems”. How? By increasing the cross section of a copper conductor, the losses in this conductor go down, saving energy and carbon dioxide. This basic principle holds true for many other applications: cables, motors, transformer windings and bus bars.

On the other hand, the ECI highlights that motors are responsible for two thirds of the industrial electricity consumption in Europe, so each improvement has a massive economic and environmental impact. For a 22 kW motor, used 50% of the time, each percentage improvement in efficiency produces lifetime saving for carbon dioxide of 6 tonnes. “In combination, high efficiency motor systems and distribution transformers can save over 200 TWh of electricity, equivalent to 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU 27,” says the Institute.

“As for renewable energy systems, improving their efficiency can be an important step in maximizing their energy output towards a low carbon economy,” it adds.

So, the question remains: If this basic principle is that well-known, why is it not systematically implemented? The ECI and Leonardo Energy we will strive to shed light on a number of non-technical barriers that are hampering energy efficiency improvements in each of these applications during this afternoon’s one-hour webinar.

The European Copper Institute is a joint venture between the world’s leading mining companies, custom smelters and semi-fabricators (represented by the International Copper Association, Ltd) and the European copper industry. Its mission is to promote copper’s benefits to modern society across Europe through its headquarters in Brussels and its network of eleven national Copper Development Associations.

For additional information:

European Copper Institute

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