7 Types of Renewable Energy: The Future of Energy

Renewable energy is energy that has been derived from earth’s natural resources that are not finite or exhaustible, such as wind and sunlight. Renewable energy is an alternative to the traditional energy that relies on fossil fuels, and it tends to be much  less harmful to the environment.

7 Types of Renewable Energy

Solar

Solar energy is derived by capturing radiant energy from sunlight and converting it into heat, electricity, or hot water. Photovoltaic (PV) systems can convert direct sunlight into electricity through the use of solar cells.

Benefits

One of the benefits of solar energy is that sunlight is functionally endless. With the technology to harvest it, there is a limitless supply of solar energy, meaning it could render fossil fuels obsolete. Relying on solar energy rather than fossil fuels also helps us improve public health and environmental conditions.

In the long term, solar energy could also eliminate energy costs, and in the short term, reduce your energy bills. Many federal local, state, and federal governments also incentivize the investment in solar energy by providing rebates or tax credits.

Current Limitations

Although solar energy will save you money in the long run, it tends to be a significant upfront cost and is an unrealistic expenses for most households. For personal homes, homeowners also need to have the ample sunlight and space to arrange their solar panels, which limits who can realistically adopt this technology at the individual level.

Wind

Wind farms capture the energy of wind flow by using turbines and converting it into electricity. There are several forms of systems used to convert wind energy and each vary. Commercial grade wind-powered generating systems can power many different organizations, while single-wind turbines are used to help supplement pre-existing energy organizations.

Another form is utility-scale wind farms, which are purchased by contract or wholesale. Technically, wind energy is a form of solar energy. The phenomenon we call “wind” is caused by the differences in temperature in the atmosphere combined with the rotation of Earth and the geography of the planet.

Benefits

Wind energy is a clean energy source, which means that it doesn’t pollute the air like other forms of energy. Wind energy doesn’t produce carbon dioxide, or release any harmful products that can cause environmental degradation or negatively affect human health like smog, acid rain, or other heat-trapping gases.[2] Investment in wind energy technology can also open up new avenues for jobs and job training, as the turbines on farms need to be serviced and maintained to keep running.

Current Limitations

Since wind farms tend to be built in rural or remote areas, they are usually far from bustling cities where the electricity is needed most. Wind energy must be transported via transition lines, leading to higher costs. Although wind turbines produce very little pollution, some cities oppose them since they dominate skylines and generate noise. Wind turbines also threaten local wildlife like birds, which are sometimes killed by striking the arms of the turbine while flying.

Hydroelectric

Dams are what people most associate when it comes to hydroelectric power. Water flows through the dam’s turbines to produce electricity, known as pumped-storage hydropower. Run-of-river hydropower uses a channel to funnel water through rather than powering it through a dam.

Benefits

Hydroelectric power is very versatile and can be generated using both large scale projects, like the Hoover Dam, and small scale projects like underwater turbines and lower dams on small rivers and streams. Hydroelectric power does not generate pollution, and therefore is a much more environmentally-friendly energy option for our environment.

Current Limitations

Most U.S. hydroelectricity facilities use more energy than they are able to produce for consumption. The storage systems may need to use fossil fuel to pump water.[3]  Although hydroelectric power does not pollute the air, it disrupts waterways and negatively affects the animals that live in them, changing water levels, currents, and migration paths for many fish and other freshwater ecosystems.

Geothermal

Geothermal heat is heat that is trapped beneath the earth’s crust from the formation of the Earth 4.5 billion years ago and from radioactive decay. Sometimes large amounts of this heat escapes naturally, but all at once, resulting in familiar occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions and geysers. This heat can be captured and used to produce geothermal energy by using steam that comes from the heated water pumping below the surface, which then rises to the top and can be used to operate a turbine.

Benefits

Geothermal energy is not as common as other types of renewable energy sources, but it has a significant potential for energy supply. Since it can be built underground, it leaves very little footprint on land. Geothermal energy is naturally replenished and therefore does not run a risk of depleting (on a human timescale).

Current Limitations

Cost plays a major factor when it comes to disadvantages of geothermal energy. Not only is it costly to build the infrastructure, but another major concern is its vulnerability to earthquakes in certain regions of the world.

Ocean

The ocean can produce two types of energy: thermal and mechanical. Ocean thermal energy relies on warm water surface temperatures to generate energy through a variety of different systems. Ocean mechanical energy uses the ebbs and flows of the tides to generate energy, which is created by the earth’s rotation and gravity from the moon.

Benefits

Unlike other forms of renewable energy, wave energy is predictable and it’s easy to estimate the amount of energy that will be produced. Instead of relying on varying factors, such as sun and wind, wave energy is much more consistent. This type of renewable energy is also abundant, the most populated cities tend to be near oceans and harbors, making it easier to harness this energy for the local population.

The potential of wave energy is an astounding as yet untapped energy resource with an estimated ability to produce 2640 TWh/yr. Just 1 TWh/yr of energy can power around 93,850 average U.S. homes with power annually, or about twice than the number of homes that currently exist in the U.S. at present.[4]

Current Limitations

Those who live near the ocean definitely benefit from wave energy, but those who live in landlocked states won’t have ready access to this energy. Another disadvantage to ocean energy is that it can disturb the ocean’s many delicate ecosystems.

Although it is a very clean source of energy, large machinery needs to be built nearby to help capture this form energy, which can cause disruptions to the ocean floor and the sea life that habitats it. Another factor to consider is weather, when rough weather occurs it changes the consistency of the waves, thus producing lower energy output when compared to normal waves without stormy weather.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen needs to be combined with other elements, such as oxygen to make water as it does not occur naturally as a gas on its own. When hydrogen is separated from another element it can be used for both fuel and electricity.

Benefits

Hydrogen can be used as a clean burning fuel, which leads to less pollution and a cleaner environment. It can also be used for fuel cells which are similar to batteries and can be used for powering an electric motor.

Current Limitations

Since hydrogen needs energy to be produced, it is inefficient when it comes to preventing pollution.

Biomass

Bioenergy is a renewable energy derived from biomass. Biomass is organic matter that comes from recently living plants and organisms. Using wood in your fireplace is an example of biomass that most people are familiar with.

There are various methods used to generate energy through the use of biomass. This can be done by burning biomass, or harnessing methane gas which is produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials in ponds or even landfills.

Benefits

The use of biomass in energy production creates carbon dioxide that is put into the air, but the regeneration of plants consumes the same amount of carbon dioxide, which is said to create a balanced atmosphere. Biomass can be used in a number of different ways in our daily lives, not only for personal use, but businesses as well.

In 2017, energy from biomass made up about 5% of the total energy used in the U.S. This energy came from wood, biofuels like ethanol, and  energy generated from methane captured from landfills or by burning municipal waste.

Brought to you by justenergy.com

Source: 7 Types of Renewable Energy: The Future of Energy

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Related contents:

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Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

Americans support recycling. We do too. But although some materials can be effectively recycled and safely made from recycled content, plastics cannot. Plastic recycling does not work and will never work. The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste, down from a high of 9.5 percent in 2014, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled—even though much of it wasn’t.

Recycling in general can be an effective way to reclaim natural material resources. The U.S.’s high recycling rate of paper, 68 percent, proves this point. The problem with recycling plastic lies not with the concept or process but with the material itself. The first problem is that there are thousands of different plastics, each with its own composition and characteristics. They all include different chemical additives and colorants that cannot be recycled together, making it impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of plastics into separate types for processing.

For example, polyethylene terephthalate (PET#1) bottles cannot be recycled with PET#1 clamshells, which are a different PET#1 material, and green PET#1 bottles cannot be recycled with clear PET#1 bottles (which is why South Korea has outlawed colored PET#1 bottles.) High-density polyethylene (HDPE#2), polyvinyl chloride (PVC#3), low-density polyethylene (LDPE#4), polypropylene (PP#5), and polystyrene (PS#6) all must be separated for recycling.

Just one fast-food meal can involve many different types of single-use plastic, including PET#1, HDPE#2, LDPE#4, PP#5, and PS#6 cups, lids, clamshells, trays, bags, and cutlery, which cannot be recycled together. This is one of several reasons why plastic fast-food service items cannot be legitimately claimed as recyclable in the U.S.

Another problem is that the reprocessing of plastic waste—when possible at all—is wasteful. Plastic is flammable, and the risk of fires at plastic-recycling facilities affects neighboring communities—many of which are located in low-income communities or communities of color. Unlike metal and glass, plastics are not inert. Plastic products can include toxic additives and absorb chemicals, and are generally collected in curbside bins filled with possibly dangerous materials such as plastic pesticide containers.

According to a report published by the Canadian government, toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging. Yet another problem is that plastic recycling is simply not economical. Recycled plastic costs more than new plastic because collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste is exorbitantly expensive. The petrochemical industry is rapidly expanding, which will further lower the cost of new plastic.

Despite this stark failure, the plastics industry has waged a decades-long campaign to perpetuate the myth that the material is recyclable. This campaign is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince smokers that filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes. Conventional mechanical recycling, in which plastic waste is ground up and melted, has been around for many decades. Now the plastics industry is touting the benefits of so-called chemical recycling— in which plastic waste is broken down using high heat or more chemicals and turned into a low-quality fossil fuel.

In 2018, Dow Chemical claimed that the Renewlogy chemical-recycling plant in Salt Lake City was able to reprocess mixed plastic waste from Boise, Idaho, households through the “Hefty EnergyBag” program and turn it into diesel fuel. As Reuters exposed in a 2021 investigation, however,  all the different types of plastic waste contaminated the pyrolysis process. Today, Boise burns its mixed plastic waste in cement kilns, resulting in climate-warming carbon emissions. This well-documented Renewlogy failure has not stopped the plastics industry from continuing to claim that chemical recycling works for “mixed plastics.”

Chemical recycling is not viable. It has failed and will continue to fail for the same down-to-earth, real-world reasons that the conventional mechanical recycling of plastics has consistently failed. Worse yet, its toxic emissions could cause new harm to our environment, climate, and health. We’re not making a case for despair. Just the opposite. We need the facts so that individuals and policy makers can take concrete action. Proven solutions to the U.S.’s plastic-waste and pollution problems exist and can be quickly replicated across the country.

These solutions include enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and unrecyclable single-use plastic food-service products, ensuring widespread access to water-refilling stations, installing dishwashing equipment in schools to allow students to eat food on real dishes rather than single-use plastics, and switching Meals on Wheels and other meal-delivery programs from disposables to reusable dishware. If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling. Although we may not be able to stop them from trying to fool us, we can pass effective laws to make real progress.

Single-use-plastic bans reduce waste, save taxpayer money spent on disposal and cleanup, and reduce plastic pollution in the environment. Consumers can put pressure on companies to stop filling store shelves with single-use plastics by not buying them and instead choosing reusables and products in better packaging. And we should all keep recycling our paper, boxes, cans, and glass, because that actually works.

Source: Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work – Vigour Times

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How to Prepare for Climate Change’s Most Immediate Impacts

If you weren’t already convinced by the epic snowstorm, fatal heat dome, horrific flooding, apocalyptic fires, and terrifying IPCC report of 2021, let’s make one thing clear: Climate change is here, now, today. Even if we all became carbon zero overnight—an impossibility—the climate would still keep changing.

And while it’s important to keep fighting, lobbying, and making lifestyle changes to reduce the impacts of climate change, it’s also important to admit that our planet has irrevocably changed and each of us needs to learn how to adapt.

The biggest challenge of learning to live in a new climate is that there’s so much uncertainty about what’s going to happen, to whom, and when. “Climate change will cause mass migrations and economic disruptions,” says John Ramey, the founder of The Prepared, a website focused on prepping.

“What will happen when millions of homes are lost, people move, food and water is scarce, and whole economic sectors fail?” Nobody knows the answer to that question, much less whether it’s guaranteed that will all happen, but here’s a hint: Even a fraction of that is gonna be bad, and you’re gonna be glad that you read and took the advice in this article.

And if you’ve been eyeing cans of Spam at the grocery store, take heart that you’re not alone. According to a FEMA study, there’s been a recent growth in prepping—from 3.8 percent of American households in 2017 to 5.2 percent in 2019. Ramey predicts that after the double whammy of a pandemic and nonstop climate disasters, that number could now be as high as 10 percent.

“The climate crisis is one of the single largest reasons behind the huge growth in the modern prepping community,” Ramey says, “especially among people under the age of 35 or so, since they’re broadly well educated, believe the science, and have the fear or impression that the world will burn within their lifetime.”

When we hear the word prepping, most of us think immediately of a man with a long beard who lives in a hut in the woods, collects guns and “tactical” gear, and eats beans everyday for lunch. Or a Silicon Valley billionaire with a concrete fortress built to withstand nuclear war (with a bowling alley, because, you know, the apocalypse gets boring real fast).

“The media likes to highlight extreme characters and stories, such as a nutter wrapping his entire suburban house in foil or moving into the woods to teach combat shooting to their toddlers,” says Ramey. “Those people are no more representative of preppers than the Kardashians are of Californians.” At its core, prepping simply means taking actions to prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario. Chances are, you already do some form of prepping, whether that’s buying life insurance or installing a smoke alarm in your home.

While there may not be an exact blueprint for what climate change is going to do to each of our lives, experts have some solid guesses that, combined with some good old common sense, can help each of us prepare for our new normal. “I can’t tell you when you’re going to get hit by a climate disaster,” says David Pogue, tech journalist and author of How to Prepare for Climate Change. “But I can tell you that sooner or later, it’ll come.”

Climate-Induced Natural Disasters

The evidence is clear: Climate change is making natural disasters more frequent, more severe, and more expensive. “We’re getting freak heat waves and freak snowstorms, devastating droughts and historic downpours, flooding and water shortages,” explains Pogue. “Everything is changing simultaneously: oceans, atmosphere, plants, animals, permafrost, weather, seasons, insects, people.”

Because your risk of natural disaster is completely dependent on where you live, what’s most important is that you understand what disasters you, personally, may face (and don’t just rely on what disasters you’ve faced in the past—that’s not an accurate assessment anymore). You can do this by researching your city or county’s emergency preparedness tips and making sure you understand the basics of surviving an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.

Pogue says that, no matter where you live, you should make sure your homeowner or renter insurance covers the disasters you’re at risk for. He also points out that you don’t need to live on a coast to be at risk for flooding, and homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding.

After your insurance is squared away, he suggests prepping for two weeks of having no water, food, or power, packing a “go bag” to sustain you for a couple of days outside of your home, and making a plan with your family about where to meet if cell towers aren’t working. His last piece of advice is the simplest: download the Red Cross Emergency app.

It’s free and will give you early warning about disasters. “The most tragic way to die in a fire, flood, or hurricane is in your home because you never got the word to evacuate.”

Supply Chain Breakdown and Food Shortages

Whether or not you agree with experts who say that climate change could bring about a Roman Empire–esque societal collapse, it’s clear that shortages and supply chain disruptions are on the increasingly warm horizon. As Covid-19 showed us, those disruptions can impact anything from medical supplies to car parts to finding a winter coat. But the most concerning shortages that we face are access to food and water.

A 2019 UN report warns of a looming food crisis, and drought already threatens 40 percent of the world’s population, according to the WHO, and over 80 million people in the United States, according to the US government’s Drought Information system. A new paper published in Advances in Nutrition suggests that climate change will cause rising food prices, greater food insecurity, and may lead to micronutrient deficiencies in more people.

While there may be little you can do to impact the global food chain, you can start in your own backyard by planting a fruit tree or starting a garden, learning how to grow climate-appropriate vegetables, and making sure your pantry is fully stocked with two weeks of water and food, along with any necessary medical supplies. It’s also important to assume you won’t have warning before a food and water shortage, according to Ramey, so don’t put off stocking up until it’s too late.

Becoming Resilient Together

Resilience may be an overused term when we talk about climate change, but for most of us, it’s grossly lacking in how prepared we are to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and our property if emergency workers aren’t able to assist us. Barely half of Americans can perform CPR, only 17 percent know how to build a fire, and just 14 percent feel confident in their ability to identify edible plants and berries.

Basic skills—like learning how to operate a two-way radio, knowing the smartest escape route out of your city or neighborhood, or being able to change a bike tire—may sound simple, but can be the difference between life and death in a disaster.

Perhaps the most effective way to take care of yourself is to get close to others. According to FEMA, 46 percent of people expect to rely a great deal on people in their neighborhood for assistance within the first 72 hours after a disaster. “Prepping is not a lone wolf activity,” says Ramey. It’s important that your immediate neighbors know your name and who is in your family—including pets—so they can inform first responders in the case of an earthquake or a fire.

In the event of supply chain disruptions, your neighbors may be your only access to vital supplies like batteries or extra diapers. Building connections in your local community is also a great way to build an informal service network, because who knows when you may need help with an injury or a home repair. As Ramey puts it: “Community wins in 99 percent of situations.”

By: Emma Pattee

Emma Pattee is a writer from Portland covering topics related to feminism, climate change, and mortality. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Cut, The Washington Post, WIRED, Marie Claire, and more. 

Source: How to Prepare for Climate Change’s Most Immediate Impacts | WIRED

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Nobel Prize Winner Has a Simple Trick to Learn Anything Quickly

The physicist Richard Feynman believed that simplicity was the key to learning. Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project when he was only 20 years old. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics, along with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga.

Feynman believed that truth lies in simplicity and that things are easier to learn and retain when they’re simpler. When your knowledge of something is full of complex explanations and terms taken from textbooks, you’re less likely to grasp it.

He’s famously been quoted as saying, “You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” The goal of learning is to understand the world better. But more often than not, the way we learn doesn’t help us to achieve this.

You end up memorizing something exactly as it’s written in a book or as the teacher explained it to you, so it doesn’t take long for this knowledge to disappear. This is where the Feynman technique comes in.

The idea is to make things simple enough for anyone to understand. In doing this, you can acquire a deep understanding of the topic you’re studying. The Feynman technique has four steps.

1. Choose a topic and start studying it

Feynman’s technique isn’t limited to mathematics or physics. You can apply it to anything.

2. Explain the topic to a child

This step allows you to establish whether you’ve learned what you studied or you just thought you had.Explain the concept in your own words as if you were trying to teach it to a child.

When you try to break things down into simple ideas with plainer vocabulary, you’ll realize whether or not your knowledge of the subject is sufficient. This makes it easy to identify any gaps in your knowledge.

3. Go back to the study material when you get stuck

Only when you can explain the subject in simple terms will you understand it.This means the knowledge will stick with you and not disappear, as it can when you try to memorize something.

Review your notes and study material for anything you still don’t understand.Try to explain it to yourself in an easy way. If it’s too difficult or if you have to use terms from a textbook, then you still haven’t got it.

4. Organize and review

Don’t stop until you can deliver a simple, natural explanation.Go back to steps two and three as many times as you need. It probably won’t take as long as you think.

By: and ,

Source: Nobel Prize Winner Has a Simple Trick to Learn Anything Quickly

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Investors Buy Oil on Inflation Fears, Pushing Prices Even Higher

Luc Filip doesn’t work at a big energy company or an industrial manufacturer. He isn’t a day trader or an OPEC official. But he is still helping drive the surge in oil prices.

Mr. Filip is head of investments at SYZ Private Banking in Switzerland, and his big concern is inflation taking a bite out of the $28.5 billion of clients’ investments he manages. So he has been buying oil.

Fund managers like Mr. Filip are contributing to a rally that has pushed oil prices to their highest level since the 2014 energy bust. While energy-futures markets are more typically the province of producers and commodities-focused hedge funds, an oil rally that shows no signs of slowing is now exerting a pull on traditional money managers who run portfolios of stocks and bonds.

Because commodities prices tend to rise alongside inflation, they can protect investment portfolios against its erosive effects. When combined with other commodities like copper and gold, energy is “quite a decent hedge,” said Mr. Filip, who has been buying energy futures and selling longer-dated bonds that will lose value if inflation turns out to be high for longer than expected.

To be sure, inflation fears aren’t the main driver of the West Texas benchmark’s run from $62 a barrel in August to $85 this week. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has stuck to its plan to increase production in small increments. A shortage of natural gas has caused some industrial manufacturers to switch to diesel, which is refined from oil.

Untangling these inputs is hard. But traders and analysts say that some of the recent oil gains could be explained by inflation worries, especially on days with no news about supply that might drive trading by the usual players such as commodities brokers and oil producers.

What the Inflation of the 1970s Can Teach Us Today. The U.S. inflation rate reached a 13-year high recently, triggering a debate about whether the country is entering an inflationary period similar to the 1970s.

In one sign of investors’ interest, money has been pouring into funds that buy energy futures and stocks, accelerating just as inflation fears took center stage this fall. These funds have experienced four straight weeks of inflows for the first time since the spring, with last week’s $753 million the highest weekly total in five months, according to data provider EPFR.

Data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed a rise in speculative buying of crude-oil futures and options in the week to Oct. 19. Bets on $100-a-barrel oil—a price last seen seven years ago—surged earlier this summer. This month, investors have put wagers on $200.

These investors, especially those that are newcomers or buying for ancillary reasons like inflation fears, are taking the risk that a sudden shock could send oil prices plummeting. That happened in the spring of 2020, when demand collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic just as Saudi Arabia ramped up production.

What is more, energy is a major contributor to the consumer-price index, the broadest measure of inflation. That means that investing in energy as a hedge against rising prices can be a self-reinforcing cycle: As oil prices rise, so does inflation, which sends money managers like Mr. Filip back to the energy market to reup their protection.

“People buy oil, that boosts inflation expectations, and that can feed on itself,” said Evan Brown, head of asset allocation at UBS Asset Management.

Inflation has gone from an expected and natural consequence of economies emerging from lockdowns to a major source of investor angst. Higher prices eat into yields on fixed-rate bonds and loans. Stocks of companies that can’t as easily pass on higher costs to customers tend to take a hit, too.

Some investors have bet that oil prices could rise to $200 a barrel.

U.S. consumer prices in September rose at a 5.4% annual rate, faster than in August and just below a 30-year high. Germany’s 4.5% annual rate in October was the biggest year-to-year increase since 1993.

Central bankers in the U.S. and Europe say higher prices are likely temporary and will ease as supply-chain delays are resolved and economies work through restart creaks. But investors aren’t so sure. In addition to more traditional inflation hedges, such as bonds whose yields are linked to consumer prices, they are flocking to commodities.

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Mr. Brown, who helps devise portfolios for some $1.2 trillion of client assets at UBS, is recommending commodity futures, energy stocks and currencies of oil-rich countries such as Russia and Canada. John Roe, head of multiasset funds at Legal & General Investment Management, said he is protecting his investments against runaway prices with Chilean pesos, which are linked to copper prices, and shares in gold miners.

So far the strategy appears to be working. Inflation is rising but so are the prices of energy and many metals. Paul O’Connor, head of multiasset at Janus Henderson, warned that might not last.

Today’s inflation is being driven by gummed-up supply chains that have created shortages of nearly everything, pushing the prices of raw materials higher. But he expects future inflation to be driven more by rising wages, and it is less clear if that would have the same effect on commodity prices. “Quite questionable,” he said of the strategy.

By: Anna Hirtenstein

Anna Hirtenstein is a reporter at The Wall Street Journal in London, covering financial markets. She was previously a reporter at Bloomberg in London, an investment banker at Greentech Capital Advisors in Zurich and has also worked as a field correspondent with a focus on oil in Northern Iraq and West Africa. 

Source: Investors Buy Oil on Inflation Fears, Pushing Prices Even Higher – WSJ

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Related Contents:

Ng, Abigail (14 October 2021). “Goldman Sachs says oil prices could be higher for much longer”. CNBC. Retrieved 18 October 2021.

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