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Westward Group Alternative Energy: Tesla Unveils Renewable Energy Batteries for Homes and Businesses

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.

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Westward Group Alternative Energy Tokyo, Asia, Paris Strategic Analysis - Energy sector faces issues regarding climate change and energy consumption

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.


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Westward Group Alternative: Top 10 Alternative Energy Stocks for 2015

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)

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. 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.


1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. 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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Westward Group Alternative Energy Tokyo, Asia, Paris Summit: Wind energy companies Gamesa, Suzlon & Mytrah infusing huge funds into solar energy

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. 

View article source:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/wind-energy-companies-gamesa-suzlon-mytrah-infusing-huge-funds-into-solar-energy/articleshow/46913177.cms

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Westward Group Alternatives: UN climate talks in Paris

Representatives from around 190 nations have started the latest phase of negotiations in Geneva a couple of weeks ago to discuss climate change concerns(visit: http://westwardalternatives.com/blog/ ).

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( http://westwardalternatives.com/ ), 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.
 

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Westward Group Alternatives: How to Reduce Energy Consumption in the Office


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 (http://westwardalternatives.com/), 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.


Temperature
    
- 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 (http://westwardalternatives.com/blog/).


Lighting
    
- 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.


Others

- 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.

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Westward Group Alternative Energy Tokyo: Climate Change On Japan Agenda

TOKYO, Japan - Climate change and disaster risk reduction will take centre stage during the ministerial-level talks between Japan and CARICOM member states this week.

The country is hosting delegations representing the 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states this week in a bid to strengthen partnership on international issues ahead of critical United Nations’ meetings next year.

Maki Kobayashi, director of the Caribbean Division within Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained the Caribbean bloc had substantial influence as active members in the international arena, and increased solidarity on foreign policy issues that impacted Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Officials will also seek to establish cooperation on international issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, development, United Nations reform – particularly Security Council reform – and the post-2015 Development Agenda.

“We would like to advance rapidly and profoundly the relationship that we have with Caribbean countries, to cooperation in terms of economic development in order to ensure sustainable development of CARICOM, because Caribbean countries are vulnerable particularly as Small Island Developing States and as Japan also has small islands within our territory we have experiences and challenges that we share with the Caribbean community,” Ms Kobayashi said.

“We put a lot of importance to work together to overcome vulnerabilities and increase resistance to natural disasters. We both are energy importing countries so we would like to find ways to overcome issues of how to mix with renewable energy and fossil fuel energy, what we can do to work together in order to cope with climate change but at the same time mitigate the effects of climate change which are natural disaster and energy issues.”

Both Japan and CARICOM member states share common perspectives on a number of issues as democratic nations with similar geographical characteristics, Ms Kobayashi added.

The first consultation meeting to establish the Japan-CARICOM relationship was held in Jamaica in 1993, and this year was commemorated as “Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year.”

The fourth ministerial-level conference will take place on Saturday, and will follow up on policy outlined at the Japan-CARICOM Summit held in Trinidad and Tobago in July. The country also hopes to deepen mutual trust through bilateral meetings with individual member states.

Seven foreign ministers, and one trade minister, will attend the meetings, with the remaining seven member states to be represented by designated officials.

Picewell Forbes, High Commissioner to CARICOM, will lead the Bahamas delegation.

Article Source:
http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/nov/12/climate-change-japan-agenda

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Westward Group Alternatives - Alternative energy sources are crucial: reader opinion

As you know, the Clean Air Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president.  (It was originally enacted and then signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, and amended in 1977 and 1990.)  In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Therefore, curbs on carbon dioxide emissions are, in effect, mandated.

A few weeks ago, The Charleston Daily Mail (in West Virginia) published an editorial concerning support for regulation of power-plant emissions which was surprising – given that The Daily Mail is in a major coal producing region. Also, The Houston Chronicle – a newspaper in an oil and gas state – editorially supported the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Recently, in testimony before a U.S. Senate Sub-committee, four former Republican heads of the EPA, supported such regulations. In addition, on June 21, in The New York Times, former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, a Republican, called for a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

In a nationwide poll conducted in June by ABC News and The Washington Post, 70% of the respondents reported "the federal government should limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants in an effort to reduce global warming."

These developments suggest that nationally the mood of citizens is changing in response to events in their lives and research reports by climate scientists worldwide.

The changes now under way may not proceed as smoothly as we would like, but increased use of alternative sources of energy and energy conservation are crucial to our economy, our health, and our survival.

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Westward Group Alternatives Editorial: Expand Alternative Energy with Caution

Consumers should have the chance to produce their own electricity, but other customers shouldn't bear the cost

Lawmakers are considering a package of bills that would expand the state’s renewable energy program in several ways, including making it easier for consumers to be compensated for creating their own solar and other forms of alternative power.

Michiganians deserve as much autonomy as possible in choosing and generating their own electricity. As long as reliability is maintained and the grid is able to handle additional power, government shouldn’t arbitrarily cap participation.

But while greater electricity freedom is a step in the right direction for Michigan consumers, changes to the way electric grids function must be handled with caution. Electric utilities and consumers who rely on traditional electricity shouldn’t be punished in the process.

House Bill 5673 in the state House Energy and Technology Committee would lift restrictions on the number of residents who can participate in the program to create their own power, which is called “net metering.” It would also lift restrictions on the amount of electricity consumers can generate and sell back to energy companies, which makes sense.

But creating a system in which consumers and energy companies both buy and sell power poses new problems. Caps for participation have existed to keep grids secure and to allow alternative energy to be added gradually to mitigate risks for electric power grid operators.

The retail rate consumers currently pay for electricity includes many costs — the actual power being generated, along with fixed costs for overhead, grid maintenance and security and general operations.

When consumers who generate their own electricity are compensated at the full retail rate, as net metering does, those fixed costs get shifted onto consumers who are not generating their own electricity.

Alternative energy users still rely on main utility grids 100 percent of the time, because their supply and demand never fully match. And a patch of clouds for an hour or two might mean a solar user needs to tap into the grid.

They should pay for the overhead and operational costs they incur at a moment’s notice.

A recent California Public Utility Commission study on net metering showed consumers who invested in rooftop solar shift the fixed electric power grid costs to consumers who can’t afford expensive rooftop solar systems, live in multifamily housing or don’t have a rooftop appropriate for solar panels.

This means California customers who don’t use net metering will pay an extra $1.1 billion in shifted costs each year by 2020.

And the majority of solar customers have higher incomes than the average consumer, meaning the fixed utility costs are shifted onto lower-income customers. In California, 78 percent have higher incomes and in Nevada, 73 percent do.

Another bill in the Michigan package seeks to set fair-value pricing based on market demand for electricity being sold back to companies. If consumers produce power at 3 p.m., a high-demand time, they would be paid more than if they produce power at 3 a.m., when there is little demand.

Mandating electric utilities buy back electricity at retail rates, however, ignores the fact that utilities can produce the same product for much less or buy it at a wholesale rate. This increases the overall cost of electricity, which in turn is passed onto consumers.

Alternative energy usage in Michigan increased 18 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission. That trend is likely to increase, and it’s good the Legislature is getting ahead of these issues for consumers.

As lawmakers find ways to expand the state’s alternative energy programs, they must consider overall grid safety and minimize burdensome costs on consumers who can’t afford or don’t want to invest in their own electricity generating systems.

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Westward group alternatives: Alternative Energy: Investing Essentials


Alternative energy is currently one of the fastest growing areas in energy. There are also a variety of factors driving the industry's pursuit of alternatives to traditional oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Climate change in impacting how we look at fossil fuels, and Inexpensive oil is becoming more and more scarce, but the biggest driver may be the economics of alternatives to fossil fuels.

Over the next decade, it's improving costs that will drive the adoption of wind, solar, electric vehicles, and biofuels. That opens up a world of potential for investors.

What is the alternative energy industry?

Alternative energy consists of energy sources that are different from traditional energy sources like oil, natural gas, nuclear, and coal energy. They may be renewable and they may be clean but those aren't requirements to be an alternative.

On the electricity generating side of energy, alternative energy is dominated by hydro, wind, and solar energy. Hydroelectric energy has long been a contributor to the electric grid but wind and solar energy are growing in popularity as costs fall and concern about climate change increases. These are the two major growth markets in electricity generation in alternative energy.

Alternative energy is also of growing interest as an alternative to gasoline or diesel to fuel our vehicles. In recent years, electric cars have been produced in growing numbers as have natural gas trucks and even hydrogen vehicles. While these aren't a large part of the current energy industry, they do have long-term potential to replace oil as a primary fuel energy. But today, the energy industry is still dominated by fossil fuels.

How big is the alternative energy industry?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 9.3 trillion BTUs of alternative energy from hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, and biofuels were consumed in 2013. The largest contributors were hydroelectric power (2.56 trillion BTUs), followed by wood energy (2.1 trillion BTUs), and biofuels (2.0 trillion BTUs). Wind and solar energy are the fastest growing among the renewable group.

While these are big figures in energy, they pale in comparison to the energy industry as a whole. Alternative energy accounts for just 11.4% of all energy consumed in the U.S. last year, so the upside for alternative energy is very large.

How does alternative energy work?

Alternative energy is sold into two primary markets: electricity and fuel. In the electric market, sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy are sold to utilities through power purchase agreements or sometimes through the spot electricity market. Occasionally, utilities will own these generating assets themselves.

In the fuel market, alternative energy is often mandated by the government but is increasingly becoming a choice for consumers. For example, an ethanol mix into gasoline is mandated by the government, creating demand for the alternative energy. Tax breaks are also given to hydrogen and electric vehicles and both are growing in availability and popularity, opening up a new market for energy companies. In fuel, natural gas is also considered an alternative energy because it is competing with oil and provides a cleaner and cheaper alternative.

The EIA says that in 2011 (the most recent data available) the consumption of alternative transportation fuels increased 13% as more ethanol and natural gas were consumed by consumers.

Expect electricity and hydrogen to be a larger piece of the pie above in the future as the technology improves and costs come down.

What are the drivers of alternative energy?

There are two main drivers of alternative energy: cost and government mandates.

Falling costs for wind, solar, biofuels, and other alternatives to traditional energy sources will keep driving adoption further. To give an example of this progress, according to GTM Research the cost to install a utility scale solar-power system fell 61% from the first quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2014. These kinds of cost reductions will drive demand long-term, and are making alternative energy more economically attractive than fossil fuels.

Government mandates will also drive demand for products like ethanol and other biofuels. Incentives like tax breaks and renewable energy standards also drive demand for alternative energy, although these incentives are declining around the world as the cost of alternative energy falls.

For investors, it's important to understand the dynamics between cost and government mandates or incentives. Government incentives can come and go quickly, leading to an unsustainable market for some alternative energy sources. Investors should focus on energy sources that are becoming economically viable without these incentives because in the long-term, that's what will make alternative energy a winner over fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources.

Source:
http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/15/alternative-energy-investing-essentials.aspx

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