(List compiled by Becca Lipman)
To all solar energy enthusiasts, get ready to cheer, a new fuel has been discovered that reversibly stores solar energy.
"Alexie Kolpak and Jeffrey Grossman from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology propose a new type of solar thermal fuel that would be affordable, rechargeable, thermally stable, and more energy-dense than lithium-ion batteries. Their proposed design combines an organic photoactive molecule, azobenzene, with the ever-popular carbon nanotube. " (via arstechnica.com)
For those of you who think that was in another language, let me explain in layman's terms: Photoactive molecules, such as azobenzene, absorb sunlight, and in doing so change into a higher energy state. The higher energy can then be triggered back into a lower, more neutral state. The change in energy levels can be captured and discharged as energy for our own purposes (e.g. electricity).
The bigger the change in energy states, the more power can be captured with each trigger. And a molecule that can be triggered numerous times is also ideal. Actually producing and capturing this energy is even more complicated than it sounds.
Yet, it's been done. Even better, according to Kolpak and Grossman, is that their azobenzene bound to carbon nanotubes "will have volumetric energy densities of about 690 watt-hours per liter." To put this into perspective, "lithium-ion batteries range from 200 to 600 watt-hours per liter."
This discovery is far from perfect, "if you want to use the stored energy to power electrical devices, you would need to convert the heat to electricity. This adds a step that requires more equipment and can result in energy loss during the conversion." However progress like this in solar energy capture and storage has been years in the making and the goal of many chemists. It's worth celebrating.
With innovations like this underway, and the prospect of many more on the horizon, how do you feel about the future of solar energy?
To help you analyze the industry we've put together a list of the best performing solar energy stocks over the last year. We have included only the companies that have a majority to full focus on solar technology.
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List sorted by yearly performance.
1. GT Solar International, Inc. (SOLR): Semiconductor Industry. Market cap of $1.84B. Current price at $15.34. The stock has gained 138.95% over the last year. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.82, and P/FCF ratio at 8.34. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 7.71% over the last week. The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.78%.
2. SM Energy Company (SM): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $4.88B. Current price at $78.94. The stock has gained 83.07% over the last year. Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 10.99% above its SMA20, 16.43% above its SMA50, and 28.62% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.68% over the last week.
3. JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (JKS): Industrial Electrical Equipment Industry. Market cap of $581.65M. Current price at $24.59. The stock has gained 81.66% over the last year. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 27.4% (equivalent to 8.91 days of average volume).
4. SunPower Corporation (SPWRA): Semiconductor Industry. Market cap of $2.21B. Current price at $22.58. The stock has gained 67.66% over the last year. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.01). Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 17.29% above its SMA20, 12.22% above its SMA50, and 39.36% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 13.57% over the last week.
5. Goodrich Corp. (GR): Aerospace/Defense Products & Services Industry. Market cap of $11.50B. Current price at $93.79. The stock has gained 40.09% over the last year.
6. LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (LDK): Semiconductor Industry. Market cap of $946.61M. Current price at $6.45. The stock has gained 6.76% over the last year. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.71). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 23.43% (equivalent to 5.17 days of average volume). The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading -6.11% below its SMA20, -13.36% below its SMA50, and -39.32% below its SMA200. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 14.36%.