NRG Doubles Down on Solar

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.

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