Time To Invest In The Energy Revolution

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The discovery of fossil fuels helped transform the world into a rich, abundant place full of constant innovation and technological advancement, making companies immensely profitable in the process. We now sit on the edge of the next energy revolution that’s poised to see alternative energy companies evolve into the Wall Street titans of tomorrow.

Looking to the future beyond only fossil fuels is no longer a niche effort of the environmentally conscious. Renewables are firmly embedded into the energy landscape in the U.S. and around the rich world. Even OPEC nations who have oil to thank for their wealth, such as the United Arab Emirates, are spending billions on clean energy projects, including wind and solar.

Elsewhere, the Amazons and JPMorgans of the world are each shelling out billions of dollars to fund alternative energy projects right now, with far more money to come down the road.

Fueled by a mixture of government incentives and market forces, trillions of dollars are currently flowing into alternative energy technology, research, and innovation—and likely will for decades.

Current State of the Alternative Energy Market

Hydroelectric was the only large-scale renewable energy source in the U.S. and around the world until relatively recently. Modern industrial wind turbines didn’t start popping up in droves until the early 2000s.

Solar is far newer to the scene. In fact, the highly-publicized and currently viable clean energy source didn’t gain real traction until the mid-2010s. The expansion of wind and solar helped renewables expand their share of the U.S. electricity generation mix from 10% in 2010—when it was mostly from hydroelectric—to 20% last year.

When we include nuclear as part of the non-fossil fuel energy mix, alternative energy makes up 40% of the U.S. electricity mix. Meanwhile, renewables and nuclear account for roughly 20% of total U.S. primary energy consumption, which is far different than just electricity, compared to 11% for coal, 32% for natural gas, and 36% for petroleum.

Plenty More Upside

Various projections, including those from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, see renewables continuing their rapid expansion in the coming years and decades. The EIA projects that renewables will double their share of the U.S. electricity generation mix by 2050.

On top of that, nuclear is poised to awake from hibernation, having steadily accounted for 20% of U.S. electricity since the early 1990s. The energy market turmoil of 2022 has forced many countries in Europe and around the world to push for greater energy independence.

Many of these same nations are trying to reach self-imposed emissions goals, and are quickly coming to realize that renewed investment in nuclear must play a far more significant role going forward.

Alongside the ample runway ahead for solar and wind and the second life for nuclear, Wall Street is searching high and low for the best and brightest names in battery storage technologies, hydrogen fuel cells, tidal energy, and the still-theoretical.

Reimagining the Stagnant Giant

The first big wave of nuclear power plants came online well over 50 years ago. Dozens of companies are now hard at work on the next generation of nuclear power. The physicists and engineers of today are attempting to downsize and mass produce nuclear power plants.

Next-generation nuclear is focused on small modular reactors or SMRs. The goal is to create high-tech, smaller, less costly reactors that can be built far more quickly and deployed in far more places.

Meanwhile, more money than ever is being invested in fusion research. Nuclear energy is currently created through fission, or splitting heavy atoms. Fusion, or melding lighter atoms, is the same process that powers the sun and stars. Firms able to produce fusion with abundant elements would likely be the superstars of energy and possibly all of Wall Street.

Fusion is often called a fantasy. But remember that not too long before the atom was first split, many of the brightest minds on Earth said it would never be done.

Hydrogen Potential 

Hydrogen is set to become a crucial component in the clean energy mix through the use of fuel cell technology. Some industry experts and scientists see hydrogen, which can be in practically endless supply, as one of the biggest players in a cleaner energy future, especially when it comes to transportation.

Hydrogen-based technology is already used to power some vehicles, from your local public bus to forklifts in factories. These vehicles nearly all utilize fuel cell technology. Hydrogen fuel cells can be thought of along the same lines as EV batteries, though, a more apt comparison might be mini power stations.

Just The Start

Despite the quick rise to Wall Street prominence, coupled with the current viability of technology such as wind and solar, there is no end in sight when it comes to the runway still ahead. The broader alternative, non-fossil fuel industry still only accounts for a small portion of global energy generation.

Investors have tons of opportunities to turn substantial profits in areas such as solar, where many companies are producing 60% year-over-year revenue growth right now. On top of that, the upstart pockets of the alternative energy ecosystem offer seemingly endless growth potential.

Crucially, the money is there to support a future that might look more like something out of a science fiction movie than anything close to the current energy industry. Think of it this way: alternative energy already accounts for 75% of the growth in overall global energy investment that’s measured not in billions but in trillions of dollars.

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