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Renewable Energy Is Winning the Battle Versus Fossil Fuels

Energy in the 21st century is already turning out to be very different from energy in the 20th century. Coal plants that used to provide most of the country's electricity are being shut down by the hundreds and renewable energy is becoming more cost efficient and prevalent by the day.

The trends are heavily in favor of renewable energy, and solar energy in particular is taking the U.S. and the world by storm.

Wind and solar power have both grown this decade but wind generates much more power.

Renewable energy becoming a big player
Since 2007, electricity generation from coal has fallen 24.9% from 2.02 billion MW-hrs to 1.51 billion MW-hrs in 2012. Meanwhile, over the same time frame wind grew 309% to 140.8 million MW-hrs and solar grew 607% to 4.3 million MW-hrs. That doesn't include distributed solar on residential rooftops or any installations from 2013, which was a record year for solar, installing about 4.4 GW in the U.S.

SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR  ) and First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR  ) are driving solar energy production growth and SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY  ) is growing the residential space rapidly.

The solar industry has just recently begun to grow in the U.S.

Of course, renewable energy from wind and solar is still only about 3.2% of total electricity produced but you can see that the trajectory for renewable energy is only moving higher.

Drivers of renewable energy growth
While electricity generated from wind is much larger than solar today, it's not the future of renewable installations. Most of the easily and economically developable wind resources in the U.S. have been exploited and costs aren't falling as rapidly as they are in solar.

The solar industry is where there's high potential because solar power has the potential to provide enough electricity for the entire country and costs are still falling rapidly. You can see below that utility scale projects are less than half of what they cost in 2010 and residential projects are about one-third cheaper. If we go back even further, the cost of a solar panel 35 years ago was more than $100 per watt and today you can get one for around $0.65 per watt, a cost reduction of more than 99%.

Source: GTM Research.

To put today's costs into perspective, a solar power plant will generate optimal energy about 20%-25% of the time, meaning that each watt will produce about 1.75-2.19 kW-hrs of electricity each year. A utility scale project with a 10% return on investment would create electricity for 9.3 to 11.7 cents per kW-hr without subsidy. That compares to an average price of 9.6 cents per watt overall in the U.S.

The driver of coal's declining role in electricity and the growth in renewable energy -- particularly solar -- is economics. As costs continue to fall, we'll see more growth for renewable energy and you can make money off the trend.

How you can make money off growth in renewable energy
With all of the trends I've pointed out above, you can see that renewable energy has a bright future. Solar power in particular is an attractive market for investors. 

Three companies leading the way are First Solar, SunPower, and SolarCity. First Solar is a world-class utility scale project builder and still the most profitable company in the industry. SunPower makes the industry's most efficient panels and builds both giant solar farms as well as small residential projects. SolarCity is the dominant residential solar player, making going solar accessible for millions of Americans. 

As the industry grows, these three companies will be major beneficiaries. The future of energy is in these cleaner sources of power that are suddenly economically viable as well. They will dominate energy in the 21st century and that's where I think you should be looking to invest. 

The other booming energy source
Renewable energy is growing quickly, but it isn't the largest electricity producer, a title held by natural gas. The Motley Fool is offering a comprehensive look at three energy companies set to soar as natural gas grows and we highlight them in the special free report, "3 Stocks for the American Energy Bonanza." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 

Read/Post Comments (52) | Recommend This Article (17)

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  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 2:41 PM, willy325 wrote:

    Sorry, but but it is not and will not for many decades.

    Just look at total world energy use and see that renewable is less than 1%.

    The media hype machine for renewables makes it seem like a new age is dawning but that is plain BS.

    Dig for the truth and facts and then publish them.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:16 PM, True411 wrote:

    The quality of these Fool articles has dropped dramatically.

    Renewable energy will grow from the measly 3% that it now supplies, but renewables will top out below 20% of the US supply. Why? 1) the wind doesn't blow all the time, 2) the sun doesn't shine all the time, 3) economical energy storage to match wind and solar's unreliable energy supply with the demand for energy doesn't exist, 4) expanding the power grid to support wind and solar is FAR too expensive, 5) hydropower and geothermal are tapped out, and 6) biofuels are an environmental disaster.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:18 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    Just look at those photos of the smog-shrouded cities in China. Moving away from coal is the right thing to do.

    Willy . . . yes, renewable energy is a very small percentage RIGHT NOW. That means it has lots of room to grow and it is growing fast. It is only very recently that solar PV panels became cheap enough for them to be very practical. And the very large wind turbines are also much more economical than the smaller systems of the past.

    My 6KW solar PV array provides all the net electricity needed for both my house AND my electric car. You can remain a slave to the oil producers, I've broken free.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:22 PM, cohenfive wrote:

    While I am a big fan of renewable energy in many ways, as others have said it is still going to be small potatoes in the global energy mix for decades to come. In addition, there is a big 'dark side' to renewable energy, and that has to do with the intermittent nature of renewable production. It wreaks havoc on the grid as you get massive swings in and out of production, and you have to have so much overcapacity to manage it, billions of dollars of wasted capacity is the result. So this may be the wave of the future, but we are just starting to realize that there are big issues as well.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:22 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    True411 . . . actually, the wind does blow all the time AND the sun does shine all the time. The places that the wind and sun are strongest just move around. That is why we have a grid.

    The intermittency issues are easily handled with various tricks such as renewable type diversity, geographic diversity, pumped storage, demand-response, over-building, etc. Just because you can't handle the engineering, that doesn't mean it can't be done. Germany is pioneering the way.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:30 PM, Let0It0Be wrote:

    I am all for renewable energy. However, if tax subsidies are being used to such an extent to make renewable energy investments to look like a good idea AND I am a little nervous about the on-going maintenance for solar panels and especially wind mills. Are these costs being included in the total cost of the renewable energy. In other words, without any tax subsidies and with adding in the on-going maintenance cost, is there a reasonable return for the investment so private entrepreneurs can enjoy some profits with a government handout. If not, when do we project it will be self-sufficient?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 4:05 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    This has to be a joke, right. Coal demand is down because of cheap nat gas. Simply add up the numbers, coal is off by 500 million MW-hrs while wind and solar make up 145 million MW-hrs. That would be assuming the use of electricity was static, not rising.

    In fact wind is running into a brick wall. States are realizing that giant turbines are a detractor when it comes to tourists. They also have a nasty habit of killing wildlife (birds and bats). Just look at Vermont, they have actually stopped green lighting wind projects.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 4:08 PM, FiftyCaliber wrote:

    Reading this article deceives you into believing that a power revolution is under way. Then you get to the part where, despite all the billions in subsidies, all the penalties imposed on coal, wind and solar represent just 3.2% of all energy. In other words, they represent a statistically insignificant percentage of the power supply. Gee, I wonder why? Well here's something you can bank on. Take away the subsidies and renewables collapse overnight. Solar cells were stupid for electricity generation 40 years ago just as they are now. Did you ever ask yourself what the lifespan is for solar cells? Or for a wind generator? Surprise, surprise, it's not very long. Then they have to be replaced. Only the next time around, there won't be subsidies. So the whole pyramid scheme will eventually collapse. That's a stock you don't want to be invested in when the bottom falls out.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 4:33 PM, dsong wrote:

    This is an excellent articles.

    People hold negative opinion against the renewable energy will be soon to change their mind. Just remind when the steam engine invented in England

    in 17th centery, lot of peoples did not admit this engine could replace horse coarches. Just look the world picture, solar eventually will replace the fossil fuel much sooner than you think. Because solar is the cleanest energy in earth. It exists everyway, every time, ( the night in east, the day in west) . It does not need transportation. This energy will last as the sun (50 bil years).

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 6:32 PM, MaxxTheKatt wrote:

    What about all the people that work in the coal industry. What will they do for jobs to feed their families? I know we have to keep moving forward with new technologies but what do we do about jobs for the people it leaves behind!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 6:55 PM, tminusynot wrote:

    Just a few thoughts. China has just began installing scrubbers on coal plants, something they have not done in the past. Open stack plants with no pollution control systems are the very reason you see the smog at dangerous levels. Natural gas prices have risen beyond 2010 levels in the past week. Coal will rebound at this pace as soon as the large inventories are used up. Regulations in the coal industry will slow production but not stop it. This will cause coal prices to rise and put miners back to work. Wind and solar does have a market but is not the solution. The regional landscape will decide what resource works best RE: plains are- wind/solar, mountainous regions- coal/nat gas.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 7:27 PM, agsb02 wrote:

    Its not winning in the field of science laws. There is no such thing as renewable energy because renewable energy contradicts a basic law of science.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 7:43 PM, toddsumner wrote:

    @rschantell. Please stop the rhetoric and misinformation. A solar panel has a useful life of 30 years. Yes, they can last longer if you maintain them properly and ensure that the glass and seals are in working order. You can expect solar panels to depreciate by 10% after 10 years and 20% after 25 years. This is what the manufacturers guarantee. Most likely the depreciation will be less. Next, the average life of an inverter is 10-12 years so plan on spending $3000 to replace them.

    In Florida, solar does nothing to reduce winter peaks because the highest demand is hour ending 8:00 a.m. In the summer it is of little help since the highest demand is hour ending 6:00 p.m. Therefore, utilities will have to maintain a fleet of generators to meet these peak demand periods.

    Solar is an intermittent generation source so as the amount of solar increases the power quality and reliability of your utility system will be negatively affected. Those who choose to install solar should be taken off the grid. You will find out quick, fast and a hurry that solar is not that great.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 8:02 PM, JePonce wrote:

    So is that why the price of gasoline is so high, and my electric bills grow at the speed of sound?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 8:04 PM, piasabird wrote:

    The report is written in a wierd way. What percentage of energy production comes from Solar? 1%? I have seen a lot of articles on how the Electric companies are pushing back against Solar Power either because it cuts into their profit or because there is too much of it like in Hawaii.

    It is a mixed bag. Some places it is supported by liberal policies and other places the power companies do all they can to prohibit it or make it economically unpheasable by requiring Engineering studies.

    So does power production and use include electric/hybrid vehicles? Storing power can be just as useful as using it. I saw a plan a while back to use stored power from automobiles during Peak usage times.

    It will take a long time to be able to burn no coal. I think some thought should go to reducing power consumption by reducing the size of houses or the overall efficiencies from superior building techniques and better techniques used for Heating and Cooling.

    For instance if people would just store their vehicle in a garage they would not have to be warmed up or cleaned off of snow in the Morning. Requiring automobiles to be stored in a garage would go a long way to reduce fuel waste.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 8:07 PM, RobertLB1 wrote:

    The real future of renewable fuels is Bio-butanol. It has 90% of the energy of gasoline, and it will fuel current gasoline powered vehicles without any adjustment to the engine or fuel tank.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 8:50 PM, Moe2 wrote:

    One people will wake up to no trees . A barren land filled with solar panel farms, and wind mills. The noise of the blades on the wind mills will slowly drive humans insane.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 10:04 PM, scottisinatl wrote:

    This is very true. Hydrogen Fuel Cells will revolutionize the transport system and electric/hybrid will continue to dominate. For those dismissing solar, imagine this: If every roof top was generating their own solar power for use and returning excess to the grid. Every house, every business. That would create a domino effect that would negate the need for nuclear plants and new gas power plants. That is the power of solar....

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 10:30 PM, rodgerolsen wrote:

    This column keeps running these silly articles hyping renewable energy. It's getting tiresome to explain over and over that renewables are up only because governments insist on it and that they are not reliable or economic enough to stand on their own. The day that governments run out of money or tax payers run out of patience, the entire industry will collapse.

    Simple common sense, uncommon among renewable fans, tells you that there is not enough roof space or wind to power a population density like New York or Los Angeles with out a power grid.

    Someday, there were will be a replacement for fossil fuels and massive power grids, but today is not that day, and neither is tomorrow.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:40 PM, mikegalt wrote:

    Beware of articles that present percentage changes and use those numbers to claim something is soaring in popularity. The coal industry produced 2.0 billion MW-hr of electricity and it has dropped to 1.5 billion MW-hr of electricity as these plants have switched to natural gas which was cheaper and cleaner. Wind only accounts for 140.8 million MW-hr and solar for a pathetic 4.3 million MW-hr of electricity. A billon is a thousand million so solar is 4.3 / 1500 or 0.00287 th of the electricity made from coal. I would hardly write home about this. Only residential solar panels have qualified for Federal tax credits and some state subsidies which have paid up to 1/3 of the installation cost of a resdential solar array. However tax credits only have value if you earn enough income and pay enough federal income taxes to be able to use them to offset the taxes. The cost can be quite staggering and take 12-14 years to break even. RECs are tax free but don't sell for much anymore. The life span of a solar array is also unknown. If you have a $100,000.00 to spend on a solar panel array you may be more prudent to invest that money wisely and use the interest from a mutual fund to just buy your electricity from the power company. Solar panels remain so expensive that they are only affordable to people in the top 25% income level IMHO unless you are talking about a few insignificant panels that can barely run two light bulbs.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 6:52 AM, DannyBoy13 wrote:

    Why aren't there any viable solar energy companies, then?

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 7:09 AM, solartransfer wrote:

    We have been saying it for over a decade. Solar will be the answer but only if done using a Solar Transfer. The efficiencies that a solar transfer gains puts it ahead of all other renewable solutions. We are tracking the sun and we have the best path for a solar energy program.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 7:28 AM, toddsumner wrote:

    Final comment. Obviously, renewable energy sources will reduce kWh sales for utilities. This loss in sales will result in higher kWh rates since the utilities fixed costs will have to be spread out across less generated kWh's. Unfortunately, in regards to solar, the utility will be unable to reduce their generation capacity (fixed costs) since solar highest kW output is not coincidental when the utilities' peak. States like Florida will see no drop in peak demand in the winter months and these are the highest demand months. This means that utilities have to dispatch all of their generation assets to meet their customers' power requirements for these short durations. You should know that solar peaks between 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. because the solar irradiance is at its highest, but it is at its lowest level when the sun is rising or setting.

    Therefore, you have two choices. 1.) pay to operate and maintain the utilities peak generation assets or 2.) add energy storage devices like batteries. A conservative estimate on the cost of battery storage is 4 times the cost of simple-cycle natural gas generators. Also, battery are more expensive to maintain and they have a useful life of 15 years before the battery capacity drops 35%. Batteries are a horrible solution to economically storing energy.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 5:07 PM, MotleyFoolStinks wrote:

    Hilarious article.

    Yes, the imaginary viable solar companies are winning, with their commanding tiny market share.

    After just after the SOTU address from the corrupt pResident.

    Is obdumo paying motley fool directly, or through some other means.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 5:33 PM, sonormikeg wrote:

    I see a lot of misinformation in this comment section. Maybe if we looked at a couple of Sunpower videos on youtube we would see that the technology and the quality varies tremendously throughout the industry. How much power does a panel have to produce before it is a good idea. Sunpower panels after 25 years still produce 99.95% of the energy as they did when they were new. They are the only ones with a 25 yr. warrantee.

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2014, at 12:11 PM, flyawaynow wrote:

    Invest in MLP pipeline companies, fertilizer, plastic man., and any other industry that will benefit from cheap BTU's from natural gas. It will employ the unemployed and provide a big benefit to the poor who will be able to heat their homes. The Motley Fool should be ashamed of themselves for hiping solar energy

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2014, at 12:20 PM, JimmyStewart36 wrote:

    Reminds me of Don Quixote chasing after those windmills. "Renewable" energy will never take the place of fossil fuels. They cannot produce the same energy needed to run giant caterpillar earth moving machines. It's more like a feel good thing for human beings to do because they think we're saving the planet. Got news for you God is controlling the planet. Have you noticed how cold it's been lately. How could this be happening if man is "causing" the temperature to rise?

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2014, at 6:01 PM, stevews99 wrote:

    Travis: You and Sara (see yesterday) must be having lunch together on a regular basis. Here is a generic response to "EPA/Green/Unicorn Prince" renewable fantasy island: Reality: the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. I'm a big proponent of renewable power technology however it will not be a viable solution until we design and build battery systems capable of large scale energy storage. That technology is probably 5-10 years out. In the interim PLEASE contact the Germans and ask them how their multi-year, billion(s) dollar investment in renewable energy has worked out. Energy prices sky rocketed (cue Barack the messiah) and they are in the process of building so many coal plants that this year they will use more energy generated from coal than in 1990. All you coal haters chill's our best alternative until we can develop technology that will support a renewable alternative.

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2014, at 8:00 PM, cmalek wrote:

    Among all the numbers and pretty graphs I do not see the numbers/graphs showing how many solar panels or wind turbines it takes to replace just one existing power generating plant. I live in the suburbs of New York City, near a 2500 megawatt nuclear plant. it will take close to 500 wind turbines to replace the generating capacity of that plant. The only space available to site these turbines, is in local, county and state parks. Unfortunately, the same people that demand the closing down of the nuke, are blocking that plan. The turbines could be sited on the ridges of the Catskill Mountains but the enviro-nuts are fighting that tooth and nail.

    Alternate energy generation device efficiency and output has to improve by AT LEAST couple orders of magnitude before it can be considered for wide spread use and replacement of current coal/gas/nuclear power plants.

    Another subject that is not mentioned is the environmental impact of manufacturing, installing and recycling alternate energy generation devices. How much energy does it take to manufacture a solar panel? What environmental impact does that manufacturing have? How much energy does it take to from beginning to end does it take to manufacture a wind turbine? What environmental impact does a wind turbines farm have? What environmental impact does a solar panel farm have? How do turbines and solar panels get recycled when they are no longer useful? What environmental impact does such recycling have?

    Not all areas have the same wind density. Not all areas have the same solar intensity. If turbine and solar panel farms were to be sited in optimum areas, some method of transmission would have to be devised. What kind of environmental impact would the transmission lines have? How much would the price of electricity be increased by the cost of building the transmission lines?

    Someone mentioned puttin PV panels on every roof of every building in the country. Sounds great but the generating efficiency of PV panels is affected by their orientation in relationship to the sun. The optimum is a south-facing orientation. How many building have south-facing roofs? I know mine doesn't and it is surrounded by trees, which cuts down the amount of sun available for PV panels even further. Yes, I can cut down the trees but the trees absorb CO2 and give off oxygen. Isn't CO2 becoming a problem? I wonder how many other people are in the same situation as me?

    Sorry, Travis but, as other have said, the replacement of current power plants by alternate power generation will be just a pipe dream for many years to come.

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2014, at 8:22 PM, olindaboat wrote:

    Rise of CO2 in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa, HI:

    1960: 315ppm

    May 2013: 400ppm

    The road I live crosses the Great Marsh which is subject to the tides.

    That road flodded twice a year in 1977 when I moved there.

    Now, 2014, it floods twice month.

    Nobody referred to the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Are we all ostriches?

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2014, at 9:38 PM, duozen wrote:

    Hi there fellow humans, It's nice to see all this debate around this very important subject and I highly respect all opinions but, let's remember that in the end wether it be in 5,10,20,30 or 50 years the change will happen and this is what I do believe our Motley fool Advisor is saying that is totally in line with their investing philosophy, Invest at the beginning of a revolution for the highest possible return.

    Thanks for your time and energy !

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2014, at 5:49 AM, JohnBelg wrote:

    Sorry Travis, but this is hokum.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2014, at 12:18 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    Very enlightening article. "solar energy in particular is taking the U.S. and the world by storm."

    I never realized that electricity could be produced from solar collectors during a storm.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2014, at 1:36 PM, Yoshimaroko wrote:

    China is addressing their smog not from so called "renewables", but from nuclear power generation. How 3.2% can be called "winning" is beyond even Charlie Sheen.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 8:53 AM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    Forget renewable.

    Drill Baby Drill!

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 11:20 AM, moneytrail wrote:

    Travis - you're showing your obvious bias. This is not a "Battle." It's a natural economic process: overtime, the most economic / BTU rich energy source will replace those that are less so, as it should be. Much like Lomax & Housel you seem to confuse economics w/politics, which pretty much extinguishes your credibility as an investment analyst. Perhaps your true calling is to opine for Rolling Stone or the NY Times where emotion prevails over economic objectivity.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 12:25 PM, RRobertsmith wrote:

    We (as americans) are energy pigs! So add everything.... nukes, gas (52% of a startups in 2013), AND the less than 10% that is renewables....

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 4:04 PM, HoosierRube wrote:

    A more useful piece would have addressed the industries and their investment returns.

    Germany has indeed led the way; And the facts are they drove their energy prices so high the people living on the edge have been pushed over the cliff.

    Just this past week Merkel announced a big push to build more fossile fuel plants to replace all of the nuclear plants they closed with a knee jerk reaction to a earthquake/tsunami in Japan.

    Face it fellow fools, articles like this have little to do with investments and more to do with an ideology that in its best form, will destroy those without the resources to pay for even the basic energy of transportation, heating, cooling, and food.

    I get tired of listening to the 'social conscience' of very well to do people whose wallets are padded full with the money to afford these lofty goals.

    I fully stand behind continued research and development of wind, solar, coal, nuclear, biofuels, and any other ideas out there.

    Why quit developing coal? Or nuclear? Heres what I know, if you quit working on a solution for any problem, you will never solve the problem. So the 'global warming' chicken littles out there, keep that in mind.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 4:22 AM, CraigWPowell wrote:

    Great article.

    Remember Fukushima and China polution

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 4:24 AM, CraigWPowell wrote:

    Great article.

    Remember Fukushima and China pollution

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 9:49 AM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I think it's important to remember cost trajectory when talking about energy. The article points out that the cost of installing solar is declining while the cost of extracting and burning fossil fuel is rising long-term.

    Challenges like the sun not shining 24/7 require technical solution, but are not a deterrent to solar right now. Even Germany (the largest solar installer) gets only about 7% of its power from solar today so energy storage won't be a necessity in the U.S. or Japan for 10-20 years.

    The more important figure today is how much a kW-hr of new generation costs to build and where those costs are trending, especially when you compare to peak costs (ie. when the sun is shining).

    Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 10:18 AM, fishers2tall wrote:

    In case there are some people reading who are new to TMF you should realize that a great number of the writers are young and liberal and therefore love GREEN ENERGY and quite frankly treat it as a RELIGION. With that in mind I urge you to read all the green energy articles with a very critical and careful eye. Check out the writers profile. Does he or she have any true expertise or significant industrial experience in the field or are they merely a good writer with a liberal bent? A lot of libs won't admit it but they really don't like or care about the poor. Take for instance Indiana. In the upcoming year it will have to shut down completely several of it's coal power plants due to new Obama EPA regulations meant to push the cost of coal use to sky high levels. Now what happens when you restrict supply of a commodity? Thats right the cost to the consumer goes up. It is estimated these new regs will increase Hoosier electric bills by a MINIMUM of 40%. I wonder if Al Gore or any other of the nutty libs have offered to send money to struggling Indiana poor folks to help pay for their higher bills in the next year. You know the answer to that. The standard lib answer is to create new government programs to help the poor pay for electric bills and now we finally get to the real reason for the liberal agenda. It is all about control and the liberal elitists gaining the power to be able to tell you how to live your life. And how do you do that? By making more and more people dependent on government. Welcome to the new liberal world.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 10:42 AM, mcampbell8 wrote:

    It's hard to buy what Travis is selling. It’s almost like he has missed the number of companies in the green energy sector that were heavily subsidized and still went out of business. I agree with true411 and others on their assessment. Until the technologies reach a critical point of cost effectiveness, efficiency, storage and strong distribution system to supply large scale commercial or residential needs, its growth and adoption will continue to be slow. I think there is a lot of potential, especially with solar energy. But anyone who isn’t getting a government subsidy will lose their shirt in this market.

    So Travis, how deeply invested in the industry are you? As a matter for full public disclosure.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:07 AM, Johny205 wrote:

    No mention of Canadian Solar? The are the best stock play, in my opinion, if you are going to buy solar stock.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:28 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    Globally coal production is the fastest growing energy sector. This article is rubbish.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:33 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    The carbon footprint of these panels is not insignificant but their power supply is. In 40 years of government subsidies solar doesn't even make up 1% of global energy. Energy demand increases 3% annually. Even if we triple the last 40 years of solar installation annually going forward it still doesn't even keep up with inflated demand. This "sustainable" energy is unsustainable. Nuclear is the only clean renewable energy going forward and the democrats and the world governments need to get behind it and stop building coal and oil burning plants.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:35 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    Germany went anti-nuclear and now has some of the worst air quality in Europe because to fill the void that wind and solar could not they had to build more coil and oil burning plants.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:36 AM, drax7 wrote:

    The subsidies to the oil industry are enormous. Just keeping the six fleet patrolling the strait of Hormuz for the last 50 years is huge. Plus the wars makes it double huge.

    Solar is the future, so is netflix and so is tesla. Humankind will strive to make that possible over the next several decades.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 11:38 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    Its also important to note that Fukushima like Chernobyl was human error. American operators would have easily avoided that catastrophe. Also there is clean nuclear design in the form of NRU reactors which your democratic government shut down a couple decades ago. Canada still builds these worldwide and they physically cannot melt down. The only reason nuclear isn't clean is because they make more money of the weapons grade plutonium generating reactors which are much more volatile.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2014, at 12:23 PM, Mega wrote:

    "A utility scale project with a 10% return on investment would create electricity for 9.3 to 11.7 cents per kW-hr without subsidy. "

    Not really true if it doesn't take Chinese and European subsidies into account.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2014, at 9:53 AM, skinnypitt wrote:

    Coal is being shut down by the government because it is in fashion to hate coal and the president carries the big stick. Putting thousands out of a job I might add. Renewables cannot and will not ever meet the demand for energy. We need nuclear but the eco nut jobs are anti-nuclear as well. I would love for there to be a magical land where the sun shines all the time to generate solar and the wind blows all the time to generate wind energy but this is the real world. renewables may grow from the nothing share they currently have to a little over nothing but until technology catches up there will be no revolution in renewables unless the government mandates it.

  • Report this Comment On February 04, 2014, at 8:05 PM, cmalek wrote:

    I just did a fast search for any large solar farms in the world.

    There is a 9.2 million sq. ft. farm outside of Venice, Italy that generates 72 MEGAWATTS of electricity.

    A 300,000 mirror solar farm is under construction in the Mojave Desert. It will generate a whopping 377 MEGAWATTS. From the pictures it looks like it is several square miles in size.

    In comparison I live in the neighbohood of a nuclear power plant. It generates 2500 MEGAWATTS of electricity in an area of about one football field. It would take over 1.8 million panels out at Mojave to equal the output of one nuke. How many square miles would be needed for that many panels???

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Travis Hoium

Travis Hoium has been writing for since July 2010 and covers the solar industry, renewable energy, and gaming stocks among other things.

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