Get On the Solar Bandwagon Before It's Too Late

While China and Japan might have installed more solar energy mega watts in 2013, the United States' 41% improvement is nothing to bat an eye at. Thanks to companies like SolarCity  (NASDAQ: SCTY  ) and First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR  ) , California, Arizona and New Jersey -- yes, New Jersey -- are leading the charge. 

One big reason for this is that public awareness about solar power is spreading like rays of sunlight. In fact, you can now find a SolarCity representative in a growing number of Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) and Home Depot stores. Before too long, you will even be able to store energy generated during the day using lithium-ion batteries from Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) . For more information on the evolution of solar energy, check out the short clip below.

Solar power isn't OPEC's worst nightmare, but it should be

Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable LANDSLIDE of profits!

This segment is from Thursday's edition of "Digging for Value," in which sector analysts Joel South and Taylor Muckerman discuss energy and materials news with host Alison Southwick. The twice-weekly show can be viewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It can also be found on Twitter, along with our extended coverage of the energy & materials sectors @TMFEnergy.

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 2:20 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    The best investment you can make in solar is installing it on your own roof-top. But don't use a solar-lease, those are a rip-off. Pay cash or take out a home equity loan. Or best . . . self-install if you are a DIYer. It is not that hard, especially with a microinverter based system.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 7:08 PM, greensunnj wrote:

    In new jersey, you will almost always achieve 2x the savings by purchasing solar than by leasing (if you can take advantage of the 30% federal incentive tax credit)... The reason most people don't purchase is because they assume that it's a big up front cost.

    Educated consumers quickly realize that it's pretty easy to get an unsecured or secured loan to pay off the system and be cash-flow positive within the 1st year! What is a lease --- it's a form of financing that lasts for 20 to 25 years...

    So, use your good credit to double your net profit by purchasing your system. Feel free to check out to learn more about your options.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 10:48 PM, ronwiserinvestor wrote:

    It's even better in California where you can easily buy a solar system for 1/3 the cost of an expensive lease or PPA. And now that various $0 down loans with tax deductible interest are available, solar leases and PPAs make absolutely no financial sense anymore.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 12:11 AM, emailnodata wrote:

    What makes maybe more sense?

    Rather than putting solar on your rooftop, which might be in a cloudy climate or have other limitations, a "power-share" arrangement where you fund a solar installation in a highly-suited solar farm.

    That power feeds the grid, you receive payment for every kwh generated.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:10 AM, ronwiserinvestor wrote:

    @emailnodata Yes, but that "payment" will never be as great as the "payment" 100% net metering credit that you would receive if you owned the system outright instead. With a "power share" arrangement there will always be multiple parties as well as middlemen dipping into the same solar pot farm. No pun intended.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 2:08 AM, btc909 wrote:

    I've known Leasing is a total scam but now I've also learned about PPA. Terms are generally 20 years. At the end of the term you generally still don't own the system but you are no longer obligated. If you lose your home the solar finance company will put a lean on your house & go after your credit / assets. If you rent the house the electric bill has to stay in your name. You signed the term so you are obligated. If you sell the house you have to disclose the PPA & attempt to transfer that agreement to the new owner which will be a deal breaker once they find out the age of those panels. Over a period of twenty years you ended up paying almost three times as much for the system. The cents per kW can be increased, I forget what the term is.

    The 30% Federal Tax credit goes to the solar finance company along with any state / county incentives.

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Taylor Muckerman

Taylor is an Associate GM in our Fool International operations. Prior to that he covered all things Energy + Materials as an analyst. Over the years, he has built an investing skill set to rely on when evaluating companies inside and out. While at the Fool, he has made appearances on CNBC and Fox Business. In addition, he completed his MBA at the University of Maryland and will sit for the Level II CFA Exam.

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