- on average between 2 and 3 tons of copper per MWp.
- typical use 2.5 tons per MWp for utility-scale installations.
- typical use 4 kg per kWp for residential solar roofs.
The copper intensity of use (tCu/MWp) in photovoltaic power systems depends on several factors. Copper use can vary from around 2 tCu/MWp to more than 5 tCu/MWp. Some of the major factors determining this use are:
- The size of a plant - as with most energy systems, smaller plants have to a higher copper intensity of use.
- The types of panels used.
- The scope of reporting - about a quarter of copper is used on the panels, and three quarters in the balance of plant.
- The choice of the conductor material, particularly for the cabling and transformer in the balance of plant.
Referring to the picture below, copper can be used in 11 parts of a photovoltaic power system:
- PV cells (ribbons, busbars)
- Module cables
- Panel interconnection cables
- String controller box, feeding cables
- Main junction box, feeding cables
- Inverter feeding cables
- Transformer feeding cables
- Tracker feeding (not applicable for fixed tilt installations)
Navigant, 2018, North American Solar PV Copper Content Analysis, report for Copper Development Association
IEA-PVPS, 2020, Trends in Photovoltaic Applications 2020
Last update: April 6, 2022