Solar Growth Greens Industry Future

Last week, buzz mounted that Elon Musk’s Tesla was working with Apple to deliver the long-awaited iCar, breaking the EV powerhouse’s stock past the $200 a share mark for the first time ever. This week, Musk and the Rive Brothers’ installation powerhouse SolarCity announces quarterly earnings while closing in on $80 a share, as does First Solar, safely hovering over $50.

These numbers are astronomically higher than they were years ago.

And so is your investment portfolio, if you have been brave enough to throw some skin into the solar game, during a “natural” gas boom that still sucks priceless green funding from government and industry alike. You couldn’t be blamed for being shy: A couple years ago, solar hotshots like First Solar and Sunpower, whose impressive quarterly report last week pushed its stock north of $30, were surrounded by citizens who desperately wanted but couldn’t afford solar because those who needed to fund it were pretending climate change was just going to go away.

Those days are over.

Extreme climate disruptions are scaring people, politicians and institutions, who are rushing to the solar sector like the environmental and economic lifeboat that it is. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has claimed his Department of Energy’s solar initiatives could soon bring the price of electricity down to six cents per kWh, which is about what we’re paying now for coal plants – and which are destroying us and the planet. Ever more institutional investors are flooding solar with money, fueling accelerating returns on investment and efficiencies in manufacturing, which in turn are adding jobs to the American economy at 10 times the national average.

So if you’re talking installations or investment, solar is the closest thing there is to a sure thing. Everything should have a solar panel on it, and everyone should buy solar stocks. Pay it forward, take us forward, because we can’t go backwards.

“The 13 GW of solar capacity now online in the U.S. displaces at least 8.5 million tons of CO2 per year,” Solar Energy Industries Association spokesperson Ken Johnson told SolarEnergy. “Put another way, that’s enough to offset the carbon emissions from nearly 2.5 million vehicles or nearly 24 million barrels of oil consumed each year. There’s no question about it: Clean, reliable and affordable solar electricity is helping to stimulate the American economy while having a positive impact on our environment.”

As for its players, Sunpower followed up its fourth-quarter earnings report with an announcement that Bank of America and Merrill Lynch gave it $220 million to install solar in every Meritage Home nationwide for the next three years. Over the last year, Sunpower has pulled down a cool billion in funding to quickly build out the renewable infrastructure we’ll inevitably need if we’re going to build anything ever again. These deals are what Sunpower needs to shoot down cost curves even further as it raises its industry-leading conversion rate, which in turns lifts the overall industry’s goals and returns. Crowd goes wild.

“Increasingly, homebuyers understand the return on investment that a high quality, energy efficient, solar-powered new home delivers,” Sunpower CEO Tom Werner told SolarEnergy via email about the Meritage integration, which, like the Tesla/Apple rumors, are just a few signs of inevitable industry fusion.

“Sunpower solar panels are the most efficient and reliable on the market today, producing up to 44 percent more electricity and delivering far more energy and value over the life of the system,” he added. “And we’re evolving our efforts as an energy services provider. We’ve gone from making solar cells to making panels to offering services to our customers. We believe we’re positioned to become a leader.”

If it’s not Sunpower, then it will be SolarCity, or First Solar, or Canadian Solar, or solar someone else from the future who will inevitably lead us into the greener future we deserve, far from the fossil fuel industry’s globally warmed dystopia. Its last poker hand is “natural” gas; after that, its obsolete energy model collapses entirely but hopefully doesn’t take us with it. So if you own a solar home, you should be greenvested in solar stocks. If you’re already invested in the solar sector, then buy some panels and put them somewhere, post-haste. We need both, and we’re getting both, and there’s no stopping it.

“The huge challenges posed by a supply and demand mismatch, fast-dropping solar technology prices and the worst of the bankruptcy bloodbath are over,” Cleantechnica president Zachary Shahan told SolarEnergy. “Sure, as the industry continues to mature, more companies won’t make it. However, I think the top players, like First Solar and SunPower, now have pretty strong competitive advantages that will lead them to do well in what will certainly turn out to be a humongous industry. We’ve just seen the start of that turn upwards.”

This article appeared at Solar Energy

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