The Collapse of Commodities in One Simple Chart
This chart from Macquarie puts the year in perspective for commodity investors. It covers various asset classes including equities, FX markets, bonds, and commodity prices, and charts them YTD in terms of US dollars and expressed as a percentage.
For a simple chart, there is a lot of information here to consider.
For starters, on the far right is the prime culprit in stymying commodity markets: the Dollar Index. The US dollar, which commodities are priced in, has had a big year with close to a 10% return YTD. While the US economy is still suspect at best, it has served as a safe haven for investors this year over markets such as Europe, China, and Japan. As a result, the USD has had the best performance of all of these asset classes listed on the chart.
The other market on the right worth noting is the Nasdaq, home to many of the tech stocks that have kept the US economy chugging along. While some are skeptical of the true value of some of the companies in Silicon Valley, it cannot be denied that the Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world are the key to keeping US growth intact in any capacity.
To the left of the zero mark, things get dire fast.
Precious metals such as gold and silver are down, but this can be mostly attributed to the strength of the dollar. Energy and industrial metals, on the other hand, have been thoroughly routed due to a combination of dollar strength and slowing Chinese growth. Many agricommodities have struggled as well.
The biggest losers of the bunch include rhodium, nickel, iron ore, and lean hogs, all which are down more than 30% YTD.
Why Copper and Nickel Are the Key Metals for Energy Utopia
With more renewables and EVs plugging into the grid, copper and nickel are essential building blocks for the energy transition.
Copper and Nickel: The Key Metals for Energy Utopia
The raw materials required to transport and store clean energy are critical for the energy transition. Copper and nickel are two such metals.
Copper is essential for the transmission and distribution of clean electricity, while nickel powers lithium-ion batteries for EVs and energy storage systems.
The above infographic sponsored by CanAlaska Uranium explores how copper and nickel are enabling green technologies and highlights why they are essential for a utopian energy future.
Copper: Transporting Clean Energy
When it comes to conducting electricity, copper is second only to silver. This property makes it an indispensable building block for multiple energy technologies, including:
- Electric vehicles: On average, a typical electric car contains 53kg of copper, primarily found in the wirings and car components.
- Solar power: Solar panels use 2.8 tonnes of copper per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity, mainly for heat exchangers, wiring, and cabling.
- Wind energy: Onshore wind turbines contain 2.9 tonnes of copper per MW of capacity. Offshore wind turbines, which typically use copper in undersea cables, use 8 tonnes per MW.
- Power grids: Copper, alongside aluminum, is the preferred choice for electric transmission and distribution networks due to its reliability and efficiency.
BloombergNEF projects that, due to its expansive role in clean energy, the demand for copper from clean energy applications will double by 2030 from 2020 levels. The table below compares annual copper demand from clean energy, in tonnes, in 2020 vs. 2030:
|Year||Power Grids||EV batteries||Wind||Solar||EV charging||Total
Although power grids will account for the largest portion of annual copper demand through 2030, EV batteries are projected to spearhead the growth.
Nickel: Powering Lithium-ion Batteries
Nickel is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries for EVs and stationary energy storage systems. For EVs, nickel-based cathodes offer more energy density and longer driving ranges as compared to cathodes with lower nickel content.
According to Wood Mackenzie, batteries could account for 41% of global nickel demand by 2030, up from just 7% in 2021.
|End-use||2021 % of Nickel Demand||2040P % of Nickel Demand|
Nickel-based cathodes for lithium-ion batteries, including NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) and NCA (Nickel Cobalt Aluminum), are prevalent in EVs and make up more than 50% of the battery cathode chemistry market.
A Bright Future for Copper and Nickel
Both copper and nickel are essential building blocks of EVs and other key technologies for the energy transition and ultimately energy utopia.
As more such technologies are deployed, these metals are likely to be in high demand, with clean energy applications supplementing their existing industrial uses.
CanAlaska is a leading exploration company with a strategic portfolio of uranium, nickel, and copper projects in North America. Click here to learn more.
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