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Green Investing: Renewable Energy Stocks on the Rise

Renewable energy has seen explosive growth in the United States in recent years. Solar leads the pack with a projected 44% increase in capacity by 2018, but wind power has also shown strong gains and is projected to increase by 20% over that same period of time.

Though fossil fuel prices are not as significant a driver as they were in the previous decade, there still remains a strong political and social desire to have a nation that is free of dependence on foreign energy sources. And with markers of climate change becoming increasingly visible, there is definitely a sustained interest in clean and eco-friendly means of meeting our power needs.

This phenomenon is not just limited to the United States, however. Renewable energy growth is strong throughout the rest of the developed world, thanks to a variety of factors such as a strong subsidy system throughout Europe and South Africa as well as technological improvements in solar battery storage capacity.

Given both a vital global need for it and strong cost-savings potential, the solar industry is a robust one that's well worth considering making investments in. But where should you begin looking?

Power Production and Distribution

The major companies responsible for maintaining and supplying the traditional fossil fuel network are also making big moves into renewables. For example, GE has founded a $10 billion international start-up effort called GE Renewable Energy that operates independently and has made some major moves as of late, such as acquiring Dutch wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Wind Power for $1.65 billion in late 2016.

Oil and gas companies are also making a big push into renewables, largely due to Saudi Arabia's mid-2016 declaration that the country would diversify its economy away from petroleum as well as new resolutions by the United Nations regarding climate change. For example, Shell's New Energies arm operates with a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars and is looking to establish wind farms throughout Europe as well as investing in solar power production in Asia. And BP is currently operating 13 wind farms throughout the United States.

It's definitely worth looking at smaller commercial energy providers that exclusively deal in renewables, as well. For example, SunPower and First Solar provide solar power on a large scale to Apple facilities throughout the world. Other international companies that are leaders in providing solar and wind include Trina Solar Limited, Vestas Wind Systems, and ABB Ltd.


Renewable energy requires a lot of specialized hardware to produce and store. Solar power requires panels to harness the rays of the sun, a charge controller to turn that energy into usable electricity, batteries for energy storage and an inverter to hook up devices and appliances, just to name some of the major components. And wind requires those large turbines, of course, along with many of the same components of a solar system to convert the energy to the electricity needed by the end units.

The point being that some company or another needs to manufacture all of these parts and devices, and these companies usually specialize in their area. Their fortunes will rise and fall with the industry as a whole, of course, but they're also competing with each other to create the most innovative and cost-effective versions of their product.

For one prominent example, look at storage batteries. The big name in this area is Tesla. Tesla's Powerwall is a revolutionary technology that offers many significant advantages over the traditional lead-acid battery setup in alternative energy systems and has taken over quite a bit of the market. The ideal situation for an investor would be to get in on the ground floor of something as revolutionary as the Powerwall!

Smart Devices

So-called "smart devices", or household appliances and vehicles that connect to the internet for added functionality, are already becoming widely used in homes. The ultimate goal for municipalities is to employ these devices to interconnect the utility grids with homes and businesses. For example, smart meters and appliances will work together to make structures as energy-efficient as possible, while surplus solar power collected at the home can be sold back to the grid for further cost savings. This is an area that investors would definitely be wise to keep an eye on, particularly the new and innovative devices that are difficult for other companies to copy and improve upon as well as the parts manufacturers that supply them.

Succeeding With Renewable Energy Investments

Given the realities of climate change and political desire for energy independence, it's an inevitability that the world will shift gradually toward reliance on more renewable sources. For investors, the primary path to success is in identifying innovative new companies and the specialized parts manufacturers that supply them.

Millie Gould became an investment mentor just under 1 year ago and shares her insights and ideas in her articles as well as through private coaching sessions.


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