The Best Places to Invest in Wind & Solar Energy

By: May 4, 2023

Onshore wind turbine farms continue to spread in North America, Europe, and Asia. However, the real news is what’s happening offshore.

For decades now, vast offshore wind farms have been built in Europe, but their development in North America has been quite slow. This is especially disappointing because onshore wind farms inevitably suffer from periodic lack of wind, but wind blows much more consistently in offshore wind farms. 

Right now, there are only two operating offshore wind farms in North America. These are the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm. These two were completed in 2016 and 2020 respectively.

There are about 15 others in the works, and most of them are in New England. None of them are expected to come online for another five years or so.

Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. (Source: endiprev.com)

California is another great place for offshore wind. The state has a tremendous thirst for energy, and its inhabitants and politicians are among the most environmentally conscious anywhere. To make matters worse, recent water shortages in the state have curtailed its supply of hydro-electric power.

One of the major challenges to building wind farms off California’s coast is that the continental shelf drops off quite sharply not far from the coastline and the water is simply too deep to build traditional offshore wind turbines.

However, many companies have begun developing floating wind turbines that are tethered to the ocean floor rather than being built into it. This solves a lot of problems and vastly opens up the possibilities for California. In fact, at the end of 2022, California began auctioning off parcels of sea for what will soon become the first floating wind turbine farms in North America.

Illustration of the difference between bottom fixed (left) and floating wind turbines. (Source: technologyreview.com)

There are a few companies that are likely to supply floating wind turbines to the developers that won the auction. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems (Nasdaq Nordic: VWS) is the 800-lb. gorilla in the offshore wind turbine market. To date, it has supplied 46 offshore installations with wind turbines. It pioneered offshore fixed-bottom wind turbines and now it has increased its focus on floating offshore wind turbines.

Most investors admire GE for its jet engines and kitchen appliances. However, General Electric (NYSE: GE) is one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers as well. It has enormous resources to apply to developing both fixed bottom and floating wind turbines. Any domestic offshore wind farm installations off the coast of California will likely include turbines developed by General Electric.

A final potential supplier for floating wind turbines is Spain’s Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy (BMAD: SGRE).

Companies Pushing the Limits in Solar Cell Technology

The latest advances in solar cell technology, also known as photovoltaics, have been more evolutionary than revolutionary. 

Efficiencies in converting sunlight into electric power has gradually increased from about 24% to 32% over the past 5 years. The expected lifetime for solar cells is reported to have increased by roughly 15%. They’re now expected to last about 35 years, whereas in former days, if you got 30 years out of a solar panel, you were considered lucky.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia are working on solar panels that can follow the sun across the sky to improve efficiency.

First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) is one of the largest developers and manufacturers of solar panels in the world. It has its own unique technology that pushes the boundaries of what’s currently achievable in conversion efficiencies. This makes its products ideal for large commercial scale solar installations. The company reports that its production is sold out through 2026 despite having just added capacity via a new plant in India.

First Solar Headquarters in Tempe, AZ. (Source: bizjournals.com)

Another company worth your attention is Canadian Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: CSIQ). Canadian Solar enjoys a higher degree of vertical integration than most of its competitors. Not only does it design and develop its own photovoltaic panels, but it also develops and markets inverters (they convert the direct current (DC) signal from the solar panels to alternating current (AC) for the transfer to standard grids) and large-scale battery storage facilities.

First Solar panel in an installation in Jordan. (Source: rechargenews.com)

The Renewable Energy MegaTrend

Given the fact that a massive $1 trillion is expected to double to $2 trillion over the next roughly 7 years, there’s definitely a market you want to get in on.

A few articles will follow this one to better describe more of the technical details fueling the project growth of this industry. Be sure that along with the staggering expected growth in the size of the renewables industry there are some very promising new technologies slowly making their ways out of research labs and into real products. You’ll be amazed!


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