Every hour of every day, enough solar energy reaches earth to replace all energy consumed in a year combined. Every drop of oil, every piece of coal, and every cubic foot of natural gas; trillions of dollars of economic value hits the earth every hour.
If we could capture just a small percentage, a measly 0.03% of the solar energy hitting the world each year, we could be using clean, home-grown energy, not only in the U.S., but around the world. And the companies that can exploit this resource have the chance to upend a multi-trillion dollar industry, something so revolutionary it may only happen once every few generations. And it creates the biggest investment opportunity I think we'll see in any of our lifetimes.
If we ballpark solar energy from a revenue perspective, the opportunity is equally impressive. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that $287 billion was invested in all of clean energy in 2016, including wind, solar, hydro, and other sources. If the 2,676 GW investment figure I outlined above ends up being true and solar installations costs are $0.80 per watt (about a 30% reduction from today) the total value of installations alone would be about $2.1 trillion.
It's impossible to predict how much solar stocks will rise over the next few decades, but the opportunity for the industry is easily in the trillions of dollars annually. I think it's clear that solar energy is the biggest investment opportunity of our lifetimes. Bigger than computers, bigger than the internet, solar energy could change the world forever. And the companies that can take a significant amount of market share could become the new energy giants, replacing the oil giants we know today.
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The author(s) may have a position in any stocks mentioned.
Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar, Royal Dutch Shell (A Shares), and SunPower. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .