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As the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere keeps rising, the effort to reduce them and achieve oil independence in the energy sector is revving up.

Across the globe, governments are increasing subsidies to provide that needed extra push toward sustainable energy in everyday life -- and you can get a piece of that action. Here's how green energy can be turned into more greenbacks in your wallet.

Power extreme
Any modern home in the U.S. needs power above all else. Green technology in this domain has several paths to take. One of them is nuclear power. Companies that sell nuclear power are on their way to achieving higher profits as economies progress toward oil independence.

Keeping that in mind, putting your money on uranium specialist Cameco (NYSE: CCJ  ) might be a good bet. A report that appeared in Globe and Mail quotes TD Newcrest analyst Greg Barnes' estimate that the spot uranium price should hover at $75 per pound in 2011. If that happens, Cameco stands to cash in greatly in the coming years, as more countries such as China move toward nuclear power generation. Pay attention.

Here comes the sun
Solar power is another obvious opportunity for electrical generation. Companies such as Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE  ) , for instance, are going full tilt into solar cell production in Asia. Recently, the Chinese government raised its goal for installed power capacity to 50 GW from 20 GW by 2020. The situation is not very different in other parts of the globe either. So companies such as Yingli and its competitors such as Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ  ) will vie for greater pieces of market share in a market that is already expanding at a ridiculous rate. Take note: Canadian Solar is in the process of increasing its facilities by more than 60% in order to meet growing demand.

Cheaper drive
In an earlier article, I talked about how electric vehicles are poised to become a favored mode of transport in the future. With the rising price of oil, this reality is probably much closer than you think.

Alas, the cost of the battery stands in its way. Using ultracapacitors or electrochemical double-layer capacitors might save costs on the battery front. Ultracapacitors require less maintenance and can work efficiently even under low-temperature conditions. They are also largely recyclable, and therefore environmentally viable.

The key stock to watch here is Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq: MXWL  ) . Maxwell designs ultracapacitors. It has joined hands with Continental AG to supply microhybrid packs to diesel cars in Europe. This is definitely a company to watch.

Light 'em up
In the green energy sector, my last pick for the day is North Carolina-based Cree (Nasdaq: CREE  ) . Cree manufactures LED bulbs and lighting fixtures that can be used with the existing lighting infrastructure.

These bulbs and fixtures are easily adaptable into the current lighting infrastructure. Cree is not directly related to energy companies, but it can directly contribute toward reduction in energy usage. Currently, lighting in the U.S. represents about 20% of all lighting expenses around the world. This amount translates to $40 billion every year. In a report last year, Pike Research had said that LED lighting will capture 46% of the total lighting market by 2020. Companies such as Cree will surely use this trend to glean more market share and high income.

Fool's take
As more people become aware of the grim situation that the world faces with regard to nonrenewable energy resources, clean, green energy will start to find more and more takers. With a government push for renewable energy, green energy companies like the ones I mentioned above will find themselves well-positioned in a profitable marketplace.

In the long term, these stocks and others are going to be highly profitable for the Foolish investor. But as with any other mass technology market, the initial phase is always receptive to the first movers. It takes a while before the market stabilizes to reveal a few winners. We might be looking at a few of those today.

Arunava De does not own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. 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.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (15)

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  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2011, at 12:36 PM, sailrick wrote:

    While not totally opposed to nuclear energy, I think there should be a moratorium until much safer designs are realized. LFTR - liquid floride thorium reactors might be that choice, though the industry shows no signs of going that way.

    While not something you can buy stock in (at least not in the U.S.) there is one form of solar energy that has huge potential for base load power on a large scale.

    That would be solar thermal power plants with molten salt heat storage, like the one being built now in Arizona, and more to come.

    Solar power day and night.

    If an area in our southwest U.S. 42 miles by 42 miles, were filled with solar thermal power plants with heat storage, they could produce as many MW hours as all the coal plants in America. This assumes the land is what NREL calls premium solar resource. My rough calculation is that this is about as much land as is now evacuated around the Fukishima nuclear plants in Japan.

    According to the NREL, here's how a solar thermal plant in Nevada would run on a summer day.

    The plant would start saving heat at sunrise. A few hours later, it would start generating electricity and continue storing heat in the salt. By 1pm when the sun peaks, it would be at full rated power, say 1250 MW. It would continue to put out at least it's full rated power, while increasing output and peaking at about 3,000 MW at 5pm, exactly when demand in the grid peaks in the southwest. It would continue putting out steady but declining power until midnight. No fluctuation when clouds pass by.

    Cloudy periods, which are rare in the southwest can be planned for by the plant manager and utility, from weather forecasts. In the daytime in what the NREL calls Premium Solar Resource areas, there is sunshine all but about 4% of the time.

    3.5 hours heat storage means enough to provide 3.5 hours at full rated power, without any input from the sun.

    The first plant with molten salt heat storage in the U.S. is being built in Arizona. It will have 6 hours heat storage.

    In the winter there is less solar resource due to the angle of the sun mostly, but demand falls even faster than output in non summer months. Air conditioning is the biggest demand.

    HVDC tranmission lines would enable solar thermal in this area to feed power into other regions.

    NREL says there is about 1,000 GW potential in the southwest, only including carefully selected areas that don't infringe on anything of man, parks, rivers, lakes, roads, habitation, sensitive areas of the desert, and only flat land. Arizona alone has 285 GW potential and New Mexico 225 GW, California 98 GW and so on.

    West Texas, Utah, Nevada, Colorado also have very large resources.

    The 285 GW potential for Arizona is, by my back of the envelope calculations, equivalent to at least 120 Nuclear plants of 1 GW each, adjusting for capacity factors. CSP with salt heat storage can have capacity factors from about 40-70%.

    Not bad for solar. The higher numbers are for power tower type plants, since they run at higher temperatures, and are more efficient. Solar trough plants can be up to 50%, and are cheaper to build. Nuclear is 85-90%

    "RDI Consulting performed a similar analysis for Southern California Edison’s (SCE) load for a hypothetical solar power plant with storage located in the Mojave Desert. Again, the results are similar. Only a few hours of storage are needed before the solar plant can dramatically reduce the need for back-up capacity in the market."


  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2011, at 12:38 PM, sailrick wrote:

    I meant to say 42x 42 miles is about Twice as much land as now evacuated around Fukishima nuclear plants.

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2011, at 2:15 AM, TradeDragonfly wrote:

    I think in theory, all of these green alternate energy ideas are great, but the fact is, somewhere we will have to sacrifice. Solar power isn't advanced enough to use solely. Solar power also takes up a lot of real estate. 42 x 42 miles is a very large area. Windmills run into the same problem. The truth is, we can never be completely independent of consumable sources. I suspect nuclear energy will continue to expand despite all the bad media surrounding the Japan catastrophe. Technology has come a long way since the decades old Japanese reactors were built, and this catastrophe was a worst-case scenario.

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