When It Comes to Solar, Buy American

The United States remains top dog in solar innovation.

May 3, 2014 at 4:00PM

Last week, the Cleantech Group and Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C. co-released their 2013 Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, which tracks clean energy patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The index is meant to depict a trajectory of innovative activity in the clean energy sector. Among its highlights: 

  • Solar, with 965 patents, was the No. 1 technology, overtaking fuel cells. And each year, the technology commands a greater share of patent activity:
Solar Patent Trend

Image credit: Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.

  • The United States was, by far, the No. 1 awarded country, with 556 of those 965 patents (56%).
  • The United States' proportion of solar patents (56%) outsized its proportion of non-solar clean energy patents (45% ex-solar).
  • Japan, projected to be 2014's No. 2 solar market, came in second with 107 patents (17%) awarded. 
  • China, 2014's No. 1 projected solar market, amassed just 18 patents in 5th place. 
  • Germany, to which the solar industry owes much for its rate of advancement, placed 4th.

Potential home-court advantage aside, the numbers indicate the U.S. is and will continue to be the hub for solar innovation, which is why SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) warrant consideration for any solar investor. SunPower, which touts the highest-efficiency commercially available panels has long demonstrated its R&D prowess. In 2013, SunPower took home second solar prize with 28 patents awarded (compared to 10 for First Solar). 

But what's more impressive is where SunPower stacks up against non-solar giants. The solar-only, San Jose-company actually makes the top 25 of all clean energy patents issued since 2002-a list that includes the likes of GM, Toyota, GE, and Siemens

Sunpower Crush

Image credit: Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.

Innovation is at the core of what SunPower does. The company has a nearly three-decade track record in the industry and has long been hailed as the efficiency leader. As Apple reminded Blackberry, in addition to countless other but no less fitting examples, if you're not innovating, you're not winning. And if you're not winning, you're losing. 

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Brandon Workman has a long position in SunPower. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't 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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