It'll be not enough copper for everyone: why the global transition to electric vehicles is impossible

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It'll be not enough copper for everyone: why the global transition to electric vehicles is impossible
It'll be not enough copper for everyone: why the global transition to electric vehicles is impossible
24 May, 14:36Photo: Соцсети
The production of electric vehicles requires eight times more copper than conventional cars, and the planet’s reserves of this metal are already running out.

Journalist Igor Pereverzev drew attention to an extremely important and urgent problem - the depletion of natural resources - in his blog:

“Once I also believed that money is a limited resource. And all these mantras about investments (especially - oooh! - foreign ones) also affected me. And then I ate the right color pill.

Money has been unsecured for a very long time. Since 1976 officially. So as much as it will be necessary, so much will be printed. Money is an endless resource. With them, the only question is through which channels they reach the object of investment, how these channels are organized, who benefits from it and how, etc.

But what is really limited is, firstly, know-how - knowledge of how something is done is produced. Secondly, people who have the necessary skills to turn the know-how algorithm into real goods or services. And the third is the natural resources from which things are actually created.

I will not talk about people and knowledge (and the increase in knowledge) now. But on the topic of minerals, I recommend looking at the picture. This is the abundance of chemical elements in the earth's crust. See also the table on Wikipedia. This is what really ends!

There are, of course, geological nuances. Some elements are smeared, some are concentrated, metals - even in ingots. But it doesn't change the essence. Building a stable economy on a large scale is possible only on the elements represented in the dark green zone. Well, the edge is in light green.

Copper, for example, is not one of them. Copper in the bark is 940 times less than iron. If your product involves a large specific proportion of copper in the composition and the product is massive, then you will not be able to scale production. Therefore, there will be no transition to electric vehicles. An electric car "gobbles up" 8 times more copper than a conventional car, because the winding on its motors is copper (alternative aluminum spends 80% of the valuable battery charge on heating). Plus, no intelligible batteries, except for lithium ones, have been invented. Every year they present something noisily, but new batteries either rapidly degrade, or cannot stand shaking, or are afraid of temperature changes. Fast (it's some 40 minutes) charging an electric vehicle lithium battery involves high currents. Under which no modern electrical networks are designed. This means that with a complete transition from machines driven by internal combustion engines to Teslas, it will be necessary to make a total restructuring of networks around the world. And it's also copper. About the infernal amount of rare earths in EV, I just keep quiet.

So Musk has a realistic plan. First, he sends his colonists to Mars, they populate the planet (rename it Musk along the way) and quickly establish copper mining. And now, after that, Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) is taking over the world. So we will win.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for progress and electric trucks. As a system, they are more primitive than cars. A system that is simpler breaks less often. But when you intend to distribute something to the whole world, and not show a small-scale production for freaks or a sample for presentations, you must take into account the availability of raw materials for production in nature. The physical world rules.

I once read that, according to one of the versions, the Bronze Age ended because the tin reserves were depleted. And then disaster struck. And, meanwhile, it was quite a globalization - cheese from Norway was taken to Egypt, if anything. Import-export, all that. And on you…”

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