NRG Doubles Down on Solar

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NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG  ) is continuing its move into solar energy in a big way. This week, the company announced a $300 million equity investment in the 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Project being built by BrightSource Energy.

The project already received a $1.375 billion conditional commitment for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, and ground has been broken. Power from the plant will be purchased by PG&E (NYSE: PCG  ) and Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX  ) .

A few months ago, we covered NRG's big move into clean energy with a 1,150 MW solar pipeline and a growing list of wind farms. This addition only solidifies NRG's commitment to making the company "greener" as a way to hedge against future risks and get a nice return on the way.

So far, the mammoth-sized projects in the U.S. are being built with concentrated solar, a technology that doesn't work on a small scale and can provide more consistent power than PV. But PV is trying to get in the game and is building larger projects all the time. SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA  ) , who also develops plants, is working on a 44 MW project in Italy, and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) recently finished the largest PV plant in the world, at 80 MW. These may be chump change compared to Solar Millennium's 1 GW Blythe project, but give it time.

So should we be looking at NRG as a renewable energy company now? These actions are backing up plans for NRG to make a big push into wind and solar so I'm a believer. Plus these investments have less risk than other NRG plants because of their power purchase agreements and a tax shield the investment creates.

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of SunPower. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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