Once you've heard the name of Tesla Motors Inc., you'll immediately think that it is just a car company. However, it is also an energy innovation company according to the report from Westward Group Alternative Energy.
Recently, it introduces Tesla Energy, a collection of batteries for homes, business, and utilities providing a clean energy ecosystem. Tesla batteries store sustainable and renewable energy to manage power demand, provide backup power and increase grid resilience.
Tesla grew its business beyond electric vehicles and engaged into the fast-growing area of energy industry, and Tesla Energy is a critical step in the mission of enabling zero emission power generation.
Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk revealed the products to a group of business partners and journalists at a Tesla facility near Los Angeles.
Tesla grew its business beyond electric vehicles and engaged into the fast-growing area of energy industry, and Tesla Energy is a critical step in the mission of providing zero emission power generation and changing the entire energy infrastructure of the world.
Tesla Energy consists of two separate products, which are the Powerwall and the Powerpack. Musk described these products as helping to wean the world off fossil fuels.
Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity produced from solar panels, or when energy rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also supports your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. It is available in 10kWh, optimized for backup applications or 7 kWh optimized for daily use applications. It is easy to install, compact, automated, and offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.
The 10kWh Powerwall is designed to provide backup when the grid goes down, providing power for your home when you need it most. When combined with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is not available.
On the other hand, Tesla defined the Powerpack as an infinitely scalable system that can work for businesses, in industrial applications, and even public utility companies, that comes in 100 kWh battery blocks that can range from 500 kWh all the way up to 10MWh and higher. Musk states that the company's mission was to basically change the way the world utilizes energy on an extreme scale.
Musk opened the press event by mentioning climate change, and saying that it's within the power of humanity to change the way we produce and use power. He views the $5 billion gigafactory which is under construction in Reno, Nevada as a product, the first of many. He also added that with 160 million Powerpacks, they could power the United States, and with 2 billion, the world. The event was powered by stored solar energy.
Executive Director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, Douglas Arent, talks about the result of the imminent climate change and the challenges and opportunities the energy sector faces regarding the matter, in a lecture held in the Peter O'Donnell building as reported by Westward Group Alternative Energy blog.
Arent stated that the energy sector must decrease the amount of energy required to power a domestic economy and minimize its carbon footprint in order to help the United States overcome the results of climate change. Furthermore, he also noted that in order to reach the world's demand for energy, carbon productivity must increase three times as quickly as labor productivity did during the Industrial Revolution.
According to the research of Arent's team, which was requested by the Department of Energy, the United States could possibly meet the amount of its 2050 estimated electricity demand by using renewable energy.
As a result, renewable energy will represent anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of energy consumption. Arent also discussed that due to the desire of older people to create a sustainable earth for younger generations, they tend to invest more in clean and renewable sources of energy because they care for their children and grandchildren.
Trong Nguyen, a finance sophomore claims that in order to support the world's energy demand in the future, the carbon productivity levels should increase. He also stated that he wouldn't be surprised if future technological breakthrough allows society to quickly reach the carbon productivity levels that could meet the world's demand for energy.
Jonathan Tran, a public health freshman said that experts should be devoted to increase their research to find more possible sources of renewable energy, because he believes that using an increasing amount of renewable sources of energy will support the society to deal with both the persistent problem of energy sources and limiting nonrenewable energy's damaging impact on earth.
Energy investments are increasingly distributed to clean and sustainable energy due to the fact that decarbonizing initiative is gaining more traction. Bloomberg Energy Finance projected that for the next twenty years there will be a constant and relatively significant increase in investment in clean energy technologies and also a decrease in fossil fuel investment worldwide.
Almost certainly not.
In the past, interest in energy options has risen and fallen with the price of oil. When oil prices rose, so did the rush toward nuclear, solar, wind and other fossil-fuel alternatives. When oil prices fell, interest in kicking the oil habit waned too. The upshot of this roller-coaster history: In most of the world, alternative energy sources never got the chance to take root; fossil fuels remain overwhelmingly dominant.
But this time there are powerful reasons to believe things are different.
A bevy of non-fossil energy sources have experienced big technological gains over roughly the past decade, a time when oil prices were high. Those advances—from cheaper solar panels to more-efficient wind turbines to smaller nuclear reactors—mean these alternatives are more economically competitive than they were in prior oil-price plunges.
Moreover, the advances in alternative sources have come primarily in a swath of the energy world that’s largely unaffected by the price of oil. Nuclear, solar and wind power are sources of electricity—the juice that comes out of the wall. In all but a few countries, oil ceased decades ago to be burned to produce electricity, replaced mostly by coal and natural gas. Today, oil is overwhelmingly a fuel for transportation—and few alternatives to it have gained much traction.
The oil-price drop may induce policy makers to roll back subsidies for renewable energy, given that popular demand for energy diversity of any sort tends to wane absent pain at the pump. And a recent rise in sales of gas-guzzlers suggests that, with oil cheaper, motorists are burning more of it. But several fossil-fuel alternatives have zoomed ahead in recent years, and there’s little reason to think they’ll make a U-turn now.
Jeffrey Ball (@jeff_ball), formerly The Wall Street Journal’s environment editor and a longtime energy reporter at the paper, is scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, a joint initiative of Stanford’s law and business schools. He writes about energy and heads a project exploring the relationships among countries in the globalizing clean-energy industry.
With global energy demand continuously on the rise, fossil fuels alone will not be sufficient to meet the demand. Alternative energy, which is defined as any energy source other than fossil fuels, is gaining interest. This segment addresses a lot of concerns linked to fossil fuel usage, including carbon-dioxide emissions, climate change, and other harmful effects on the environment. Companies operating in the alternate energy space include business operations in products, services, and research associated with alternative energy, and in production and supply of alternative energy. As development in technology continues amid high fluctuations in oil prices, this sector is expected to see high volatility.
This article discusses the top alternate energy stocks that look promising for 2015. The list is in alphabetical order with market capitalization, revenue, relative past performance for last one year, a brief description of primary business streams, and future prospects. Sun and wind rule the popularity list, while others forms of energy like biomass, geothermal, hydroelectricity are limited due to operational constraints and less efficiency. (See related: Why You Should Invest in Green Energy Right Now)
- Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ): Founded in 2001 and headquartered in West Guelph, Canada, Canadian Solar is in the business of designing, developing, and producing solar cells, solar wafers, solar modules, and solar power products. It operates globally with a presence in Canada, the US, China, Germany, India, and Japan. Its market cap is around $1.9 billion and revenues are $914.38 million. Investors looking for investments in a global solar energy business will find this company a good fit.
- Enphase (ENPH): Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Petaluma, California, Enphase Energy, Inc. is in the business of developing and designing of microinverter systems for the solar photovoltaic industry internationally. Associated businesses include the Enlighten software portal that acquires, processes, and relays information that helps customers to monitor and manage their solar power systems. Enphase has a market cap of $537 million and revenues of $105.21 million.
- First Solar (FSLR): Founded in 1985 and headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, First Solar, Inc. is in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling photovoltaic solar equipment and solar power systems through its two segments: components and systems. It has a market cap of $5.98 billion and revenues of $1 billion. It operates globally, serving commercial and industrial clients.
- NextEra Energy (NEE): Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida, NextEra is in the business of renewable energy generation from sun and wind. It operates in the US and Canada through two subsidiaries: Florida Power & Light Company and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The company offers wholesale and retail electrical service to almost five million customers and owns generation, transmission, and distribution facilities to support its services. Its market cap is around $46.43 billion and revenues are $4.664 billion. Investors looking for a company with operations in both wind and solar space will find this company a good fit.
- Plug Power Inc. (PLUG): Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Latham, NY, Plug Power provides technology for the alternative energy sector. Its business operations are in “design, development, commercialization, and manufacture of fuel cell systems for the industrial off-road market.” Its market cap is around $454.32 million and revenues are $21.45 million. Although ranking lower in terms of market cap compared to the other stocks mentioned, Plug Power is a leader in fuel-cell technology and one of the pure technology players in the alternate energy space.
- SolarCity Corp (SCTY): Founded in 2006 and headquartered in San Mateo, California, SolarCity is designs, installs, and sells and leases solar systems for commercial and residential customers. It also operates the sale of electricity that is generated by solar systems. Other businesses include energy storage, charging services for electrical vehicles, home energy evaluations, and energy efficiency upgrades. The company’s market cap is around $4.81 billion and revenues are $71.81 million. With a wide variety of businesses based on solar energy, this company is firmly placed in the list of top alternative energy stocks.
- SunEdison, Inc. (SUNE): Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Maryland Heights, Missouri, SunEdison Inc. is into renewable and solar energy. Through its three segments (solar energy, semiconductor materials, and TerraForm Power), it is in the business of developing, manufacturing and sales of silicon wafers, photovoltaic cells, and other energy solutions. It has a market cap of $6.47 billion and revenues of $610.5 million.
- SunPower Corp. (SPWR): Founded in 1985 and headquartered in San Jose, California, SunPower Corp. is an energy services and technology company. Its customer base is spread across residential, industrial, and utility segments with operations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Its product range includes ground mounted and rooftop solar systems, panels, and inverters. Its market cap is $41.7 billion and revenues are $1.17 billion. This company offers a good investment option with business serving a diversified customer base globally.
- TerraForm Power (TERP): Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, TerraForm Power Inc., owns and operates the contracted clean power generation assets of SunEdison, Inc. and other entities. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SunEdison. The company operates wind and solar power plants in Canada, Chile, the UK, and the US. It plans to expand further into wind, geothermal, natural gas, hydroelectricity, and hybrid-energy solutions, which can make it a good long-term good investment option. Its market cap is $4.47 billion and revenues are $42.57 billion.
- Viviant Solar, Inc. (VSLR): Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Lehi, Utah, Viviant Solar follows the distributed model for selling electricity generated by a solar energy system installed at customers’ locations to other residential energy customers, based on contract pricing. It operates in Arizona, California, Hawai’i, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Utah. Viviant also offers photovoltaic installation software products and equipment. It has a market cap of $1.3 billion and revenues of $6.86 billion. Investors looking for a US-focused solar energy company might find this a good fit.
The Bottom Line
The alternative energy sector has seen a few challenges in last few years and growth has not met expectations. For example, the US Department of Energy’s loan program to fund solar industries had initial failures with companies like Solyndra and Abound Solar going bankrupt. However, the program was reported to break even in December 2014, showing signs of success and justifying the claims that supporters of alternative energy will benefit in the long-term. Moreover, the sector continues to evolve and is expected to see good growth in the mid- to long-term. (A good number of companies listed above are less than a decade old.) One can also explore alternate energy ETFs as an investment option.
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NEW DELHI: Big wind energy companies in India such as Gamesa, Mytrah and Suzlon are all diversifying into solar space this year with plans to invest several hundred million dollars in the next five years in installing thousands of solar megawatts, given the government's impetus to the sector.
While London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) -listed Mytrah Energy (India) Ltd, which is an independent power producer, plans to invest a total of $400 million, of which $100 million would be in equity over the next one year solely in setting up its solar business, Gamesa India will invest euros 200 million over the next two years for its overall operations, as it diversifies into solar space this year.
"We don't want to depend on only one kind of fuel. Last year, the prices in solar were high and we didn't want to do subsidy-driven business as it is not sustainable. We're waiting for tenders related to National Solar Mission now and hope to be in the 1,500-2,000 MW range over the next 5-7 years," Vikram Kailas, MD at Mytrah Energy, told ET.
The company intends to install nearly 100 MW of solar energy projects over the next one year, he added. Similarly, the Indian subsidiary of Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa, which has the largest wind energy market-share in the country, is also diversifying into solar power this year with plans to install 100 MW going up to 500 MW in the next two years.
"I have a target of 100 MW of solar EPC, rooftop installation and village electrification this year but we might exceed this as we're talking to both domestic and foreign developers who are talking to us for large solar power plants and we're giving them turnkey solutions. We'll also venture into off grid with net metering," said Gamesa India CMD Ramesh Kymal.
Solar energy, said Kymal, is the way forward for India in the long term as the country has more sunshine than wind. Wind turbine maker Suzlon, meanwhile, plans a hybrid model of wind and solar energy, whereby solar plants will be set up on the same land as wind turbines.
This is intended to save the company from land issues and overcome power evacuation hurdles as grid is available near wind farms. Its target is to install 500 mw over the next years.
According to strategy consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, it is a natural extension for independent power producers (IPPs) in the wind space to branch out to solar.
"In India, while wind sector is more mature, solar has just picked up. The fact that solar energy in India is inching closer to grid parity and government is increasing its focus on solar energy, installations through regulations and revised solar energy capacity addition targets has resulted in IPPs building up solar plants as well. But both wind and solar are equally appealing business opportunities for companies from the point of view of attractiveness," says Amol Kotwal, Director, Energy & Environment Practice, Frost & Sullivan.
The country has 22,000 MW, or 22 gigawatts (GW), of wind energy installation and a little over 3,000 MW of solar power plants in the country. The government seeks to scale up solar to 100 GW and wind to 60 GW by 2022, which will require investments of nearly $200 billion.
Representatives from around 190 nations have started the latest phase of negotiations in Geneva a couple of weeks ago to discuss climate change concerns.
The international agreement which covers over 100 concerns was contained in a 37-page draft that still needs to be prepared for negotiations in May and June, then ratification by the end of the year.
Pressure to get a final decision on the climate accord is mounting as both the global sea and land surface temperatures have reached record levels last year. All the leading countries have to declare emission targets by March so it's no surprise that the EU is reportedly exerting pressure to get pledges from its members.
At the start of the conference, EU has already recognized that the target countries might not be able to contain the rise of global temperature below the ideal threshold of 2°C. (That critical 2 degrees is the threshold that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks is a tipping point on a major climate change.)
According to Westward Group Alternatives, the draft highlights the divide between developing countries and their wealthier counterparts. So another concern is directed to the developing nations: should they also be required to make a carbon-reduction pledge? Also, there's the question of whether developed nations ought to compensate them for losses related to climate change.
During a UN press interview, the European Union negotiator said, "We are concerned the targets set in Paris may fall short of what is required by science, that it will not be exactly what is required to remain within the 2 degrees."
The US itself has committed to decreasing their emissions by 27% in the next 10 years along with creating another more ambitious international climate change accord. Westward Group Alternatives has previously reported that the US considers climate change as a risk to national security, so much so that it considers postponing the reductions could turn out to be more expensive in the long run.
When it comes to cutting operational costs in the office, one of the most obvious ways to go is to reduce the electricity bill. It's awfully important to look closely at your energy expenditure, especially since it will probably mean a lot of savings in the long run.
To give you some tips on how to save your money and help the environment, here are a few small things you can change in your office courtesy of Westward Group Alternatives.
- When it's cold, keep the curtains or windows wide open so the heat from the sun can help out your heating system.
- When you do use air conditioning, make sure that doors and windows are closed so that the cold won't disperse in a much wider area than necessary.
- Adjust the thermostat whenever people go on break or go home -- a change of a couple of degrees for a few hours can already make a big difference.
- Instead of AC, use a cooler or an electric fan to cool the room.
- Ensure that your heating and cooling system gets a check-up every 6 months so problems can readily be identified and repairs done before more energy goes to waste.
- Make use of the natural daylight whenever possible. Just by opening up the blinds or windows you can take advantage of this free source of light and reduce the heat emission at the same time.
- Instead of lighting up a whole room, switch an overhead lamp during overtimes.
- Identify the correct level of brightness in a particular area. Just like how too little light can cause eye strain, so is too much light.
- Choose lighting fixtures that are more energy-efficient. For instance, fluorescent lamps consume less than half of the energy that an incandescent lightbulb does; plus, it lasts much longer.
- Always turn off the lights when not in use and make sure that lights outside are only turned on when needed.
- Set your desktops or laptops to hibernate when not in use, or better yet, turn off the display before you get up your seat. The monitor consumes a large amount of energy so putting up that cool screensaver is not actually going to do your electricity bill any good.
- You might also consider investing on so-called 'green' alternatives for your major equipment like airconditioning and computers. It might cause you a little more than usual upfront but you can save in your electricity bill for months to come, based on a Westward Group Alternatives report.
- Unplug any charger that's completed its job or else it will continue to draw energy. On the same note, manually unplug any machine or equipment before you close shop. Any plug that's connected to an AC is still consuming a small amount of energy, even though it is turned off.