Analysis Of The Reasons Why European Countries Do Not Use Aluminum Alloy Cables

- Jul 11, 2018-

The aluminum alloy used as a conductor was a cable-replacement conductor material that was extensively studied in the 1960s and 1970s due to the high-speed rise in copper prices. The aluminum alloy used as the conductor mainly includes AA1000 series, namely pure aluminum, AA6000 and AA8000 series conductors. AA1000 series conductors are mainly used in high-voltage overhead lines; AA6000Al-Mg-Si (aluminium-magnesium-silicon alloy) series conductors are mainly used in high-voltage overhead lines and aluminum busbars; both types of conductors are in the form of hard conductors, and the joints are connected.  Welding is the main. 

In North America, the AA8000Al-Mg-Cu-Fe (aluminum-magnesium-copper-iron alloy) series is only used in the field of low-voltage distribution networks, but not in Europe. European countries basically adopt copper-core cables and pure aluminum. Cable solution. European countries do not use the technical route of aluminum alloy cables, mainly because of the following aspects:

1.Comparison of electrical performance from copper conductor cable and aluminum alloy cable

Copper and aluminum have significant differences in electrical and mechanical properties.

Aluminum alloy wires are similar in terms of electrical conductivity and electrical resistivity to pure aluminum, Therefore, the aluminum conductor can achieve the electrical performance of copper cable only by increasing the cross section to 1.6 times of copper cable. This means that the aluminum alloy cable has no substantial improvement in the basic performance of the two cables, namely conductivity and resistivity, which is the first reason why European countries do not choose aluminum alloy cables.

2.Compare copper core cable and aluminum alloy cable from the perspective of energy consumption G.P.Hammond and C.I.Jones of the University of Bath in the United Kingdom has conducted in-depth research on the energy consumption involved in the production and use of different raw materials used in the power grid. The energy consumption of metal aluminum during production and use is about 3 times that of copper. 

Aluminum and aluminum alloy cables consume more energy than copper cables in production and use.

3.Aluminum alloy cable carbon displacement and environmental impact is significantly higher than copper cable

A comparative study of carbon dioxide emissions during production and use of different raw materials used in the grid, according to GPHammond and CI Jones of the University of Bath, UK. that the carbon dioxide emission of metallic aluminum is twice that of copper.

In addition, Wim BOONE in the Netherlands and Arnav KACKER in Germany pointed out in their article "Compared with copper core cable conductors or aluminum core cable conductors from a life cycle perspective" that the environmental impact (acidification potential) of aluminum alloy cables is also higher than that of copper cables.

4.Full life cycle cost

The price of aluminum is much lower than that of copper, which makes aluminum alloy cables also have a price advantage and brings profit margins for cable companies. 

However, European countries have obtained aluminum alloy cables and copper through a comparative study of cable life-cycle costs. The cable has no obvious advantage compared to the conclusion.

Wimborne in the Netherlands and ArnavKACKER in Germany have reached the following conclusions through Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) in their "wide comparison of copper core cable conductors or aluminum core cable conductors from a life cycle perspective":

1) The cost difference between copper cable and aluminum cable has been greatly reduced during its operation period. In all cases, the cost difference during the operating period was around 3%, and in some cases, copper cables even became the lowest life-cycle cost.

2) If only one-time investment and procurement costs are considered, aluminum alloy cables and aluminum materials will undoubtedly have great advantages, but from the full life-cycle cost analysis of copper and aluminum cables, the cost of copper and aluminum is almost the same, and the aluminum alloy cable Comparing copper cables is superior to aluminum alloy cables in terms of full life-cycle cost.


Conclusion: European countries do not adopt the technical route of aluminum alloy cables, mainly to fully study and demonstrate the electrical performance, energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, environmental impact, life cycle cost, etc. of copper core cables and aluminum alloy cables. It is concluded that aluminum alloy cables are not suitable for European countries.