The price of copper has surged to more than $10 per kilowatt hour in the US as its use is seen as an essential tool to power the nation.
The price of the commodity is the biggest driver of US electricity demand and is a key factor driving the expansion of wind and solar power generation.
But despite its importance in the country, the copper-based transmission infrastructure remains in dire need of improvement.
A key issue is that transmission lines can only carry power from one point to another if the power source can be transported in one of three ways: from the grid, to the pole, or from a substation, which connects the two.
The US electrical grid is now over 60 percent copper, with a much lower percentage of other metals in the mix.
And that’s due to the government’s decision in 2003 to phase out all other metals as well as the use of lead in transmission.
The goal was to limit the amount of carbon emissions from power generation in the U.S.
Copper is not the only metal used in the electricity grid, however.
The United States uses more than 40 percent of the world’s natural gas.
The U.K., France and Germany are the only nations that use a mix of other materials in their transmission systems.
The use of copper is the only one where the ratio of metals to total electricity generation is greater than the ratio between the two in the other countries.