An increasingly important thing to consider when investing in commodities will be whether a given material is needed for the manufacture of clean energy products and other emerging technologies.
For example, lithium is a key material for the batteries currently used by many hybrid electric vehicles, and gallium is one of several relatively rare metals that has been playing a growing role in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic panels. Similar materials are being used to build wind turbines and energy efficient light bulbs.
With these things in mind, the U.S. Department of Energy recently issued a request for information on the rare earth metals currently being used in the renewable energy sector. Among the metals cited in that announcement were lanthanum, cerium and neodymium.
More recently, the United Nations Environmental Programme reported that as these rare metals continue to be required for clean energy and other sectors, there is a strong possibility that there could be acute shortages of some of them.
With this in mind, the organization strongly advised that a greater emphasis be placed on recycling old and discarded consumer and energy products that contain these materials.
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