How to Invest in the Solar Energy Sector

By Michael Flannelly · June 14, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How to Invest in the Solar Energy Sector

Solar energy investing focuses on companies or funds focused on some aspect of the solar energy industry. You can invest in the solar energy industry by putting money into companies involved in some part of the solar power supply chain, including manufacturers of solar panels and operators of solar energy facilities. Investors can also profit from solar energy by installing solar panels on their homes.

Solar energy is one of the most popular and growing renewable energy sources. There are several ways to invest in solar energy for investors interested in supporting an industry that may help reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels and help combat climate change.

What Is Solar Investing?

Solar investing generally refers to investing in companies that produce or sell solar energy products. This can include solar panel manufacturers, installers, or companies operating solar energy facilities. Investors usually invest in solar through traditional products like stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Another common type of solar investing is the installation of solar panels on a home or business. Solar panels can be used to power all or part of a home or business, and the electricity generated can offset the cost of an energy bill. Investors can also use solar panels to generate income by selling their electricity back to a utility company.

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What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is a form of renewable energy that comes from the sun; it is an abundant source of energy that can be used to generate electricity, heat water, and provide other forms of energy for homes, businesses, and communities.

Solar energy is generally generated by solar panels, which are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels can be installed on an individual’s home or business or arrayed across open spaces that experience strong sunlight.

Though solar panels are common for most consumer and business applications, thermal solar is another type of solar energy. Thermal solar energy utilizes mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect the energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity or stored for later use. It is used primarily in large power plants.

Solar energy is considered a clean and sustainable energy source that can help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels to combat climate change. Analysts expect renewable energy sources like solar will make up a more significant portion of all energy generation in the coming decades.

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Solar

The trend of investing in renewable energy sources like solar energy is rising as the public becomes more aware of the environmental and economic benefits. However, before investing in this sector, there are benefits and risks to consider.

Benefits

A benefit of investing in solar is that it provides a renewable energy source that can help reduce your carbon footprint. This can be appealing to investors interested in environmentally friendly and socially responsible investing.

Solar energy is also sustainable, especially compared to fossil fuels and traditional energy sources. The amount of oil and coal in the ground is limited, but the sun, hopefully, isn’t going anywhere. Investors interested in investments with long-term growth potential may prefer solar energy to other energy stocks.

Additionally, if you install solar panels on your home, it can increase the value of your property.

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Risks

A primary risk of solar energy is that it is intermittent, meaning that solar energy is only generated when the sun is shining. Solar energy is only available during daylight, and a cloudy day may interfere with energy production. While this is a problem, technology is advancing so solar energy can be more adequately captured and stored during periods of extreme sunshine.

Another downside to solar energy is that many technologies in the sector require rare earth materials in the production process. The solar industry must compete with other industries for these scarce resources. Because there can be supply and demand issues for these commodities, it can increase costs for solar energy producers.

And though solar energy is a renewable resource, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t create any harm to the environment. The materials used in solar technologies are difficult to dispose of and recycle, which cuts into the sustainability claims of solar energy investments.

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4 Ways to Invest in Solar Energy

Investors can invest in solar energy by putting money into the stocks and bonds of companies in the solar energy industry. Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with solar energy or renewable energy-focused strategies are also potential investment vehicles for those interested in adding solar energy to their portfolio.

Regardless of the type of investment vehicle, investors need to remember that many companies and funds are diversified, meaning they may be involved in sectors other than solar energy. For investors that want to invest in purely solar energy companies or funds, it’s essential to do research into potential investments.

Stocks

Investors can put money into various publicly-traded companies involved in some aspect of the solar energy industry. Solar energy companies may include manufacturers of components for solar technologies, installers of solar panels, and firms that operate solar energy facilities.

Some companies involved in the solar energy industry include:

•   Enphase Energy (ENPH): This company designs and manufactures technologies that turn sunlight into energy

•   SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG): This firm creates products that help photovoltaic systems convert solar energy into power

•   First Solar (FSLR): This company is a manufacturer of solar panels and a provider of utility-scale photovoltaic power plants

•   Sunrun (RUN): This firm is a leading provider of residential solar panels

•   Daqo New Energy (DQ): This company manufactures monocrystalline silicon and polysilicon, primarily for use in solar photovoltaic systems

Mutual Funds and ETFs

Investors who don’t want to pick individual stocks to invest in can always look to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that provide exposure to solar energy companies and investments.

Several index funds invest in a basket of companies in the solar energy industry. These funds allow investors to diversify their holdings by investing in one security. However, not all solar energy funds follow the same criteria and may focus on different aspects of solar energy. These funds may also have holdings in traditional energy and utility companies that only are partially involved in the solar energy industry.

Bonds

The bonds of corporations involved in solar energy business practices can be a good option for investors interested in fixed-income securities. Green and climate bonds are bonds issued by companies to finance various environmentally-friendly projects and business operations.

Additionally, government bonds used to fund solar energy projects can be an option for fixed-income investors. These bonds may come with tax incentives, making them a more attractive investment than traditional bonds.

Install Solar Panels

As mentioned above, investors who want to profit from solar energy can purchase solar panels and install them on a home or business. This may be an appealing way to save money on your energy bills, generate income by selling electricity to a utility company and helping reduce your carbon footprint.

How to Start a Solar Investment Portfolio

If you are ready to start investing and want to build a portfolio of solar energy investments, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Open a brokerage account

You will need to open a brokerage account and deposit money into it. Once your account is funded, you can buy and sell stocks and other securities. SoFi Invest® offers an active investing platform where you can start building your solar energy portfolio.

Step 2: Pick your assets

Decide what type of investment you want, whether in a company’s stock, a solar energy-focused ETF or mutual fund, or bonds.

Step 3: Do your research

It’s important to research the different companies and funds and find a diversified selection that fits your desires and priorities.

Step 4: Invest

Once you’re ready, make your investment and then monitor your portfolio to ensure that the assets in your portfolio have a positive environmental and financial impact.

It is important to remember that you should diversify your portfolio by investing in various asset classes. Diversification may help to reduce your risk and maximize your returns.

The Takeaway

Solar investing has become increasingly popular in recent years as the cost of solar panels has fallen and the technology has become more efficient. Solar panels are now available for a fraction of the cost of traditional electric power, and they are becoming more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity.

Investing in the solar energy industry may be a way to profit from the growth outlook for solar energy. However, it’s necessary to do your homework before investing in any solar company or fund or installing solar panels on your home.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.


Photo credit: iStock/deepblue4you

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