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Investing in solar and wind in a coal and oil moment

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The Guggenheim Global Solar ETF has lost over 24% a year over the last three years

Alternative energy investments like wind and have not performed well in recent years. To make matters worse, the has opted for a resurgence of and other carbon fuels, not an emphasis on alternative energy.


Yet there is a reasonable argument that the outlook for investing in renewable energy may actually be quite good. For one thing, wind and have been rapidly winning market acceptance. Last year, the installed capacity of in the United States nearly doubled. And wind is now being harnessed to produce 5.5 percent of America’s electricity, according to the US Energy Information Administration.


Five states draw at least 20 per cent of their electricity needs from wind. Kansas, for example, relied on wind for less than 1 per cent of its electric power as recently as 2005. By 2016, wind produced 29.6 per cent of its electric power, according to government figures.


Intriguingly, all five of the most wind-dependent states — Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota — are traditional Republican strongholds. “The windiest places in the country are all red states,” said Garvin Jabusch, a manager of the Shelton Green Alpha mutual fund.


And the solar industry now employs over 260,000 workers nationwide, many of them in states that have leaned Republican. Texas, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina are among the largest solar employers.


The reliance of these states on wind and solar could foreshadow continuing support for alternative energy within sectors of the Republican party, despite the pro-fossil-fuel stance of the president. Along with Gina M Raimondo, the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, recently wrote a letter to President Trump that said “expanding renewable energy production is one of the best ways to meet the country’s growing demand for energy.” And, the governors added, “The nation’s wind and solar resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago.”


Ryan Issakainen, exchange-traded fund strategist and senior vice president at First Trust Bank, said that such sentiments could maintain policy support for solar and wind power. “Policies that favour over other sources would be sound in places like West Virginia,” he said. “But if you’re in the middle part of the country where you’ve got more opportunity for wind power, you’re not going to be supportive of pro- policies.”


Edward Guinness, portfolio manager of the Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy fund, went further, saying, “I think the presence of wind and solar production in red states could splinter the GOP on Trump’s plans.”


Still, solar’s recent past has been miserable for many investors. The Guggenheim Global Solar ETF has lost over 24 per cent a year over the last three years, according to Morningstar. Wind has fared better, but with an annual total return of 4.95 per cent the last three years First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF has lagged in an exuberant bull market. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, for example, gained over 10 percent a year in the same period.


But for solar power, the fundamental economic outlook may conceivably be improving. “The reason solar stocks have done poorly is a big oversupply of panels, which drove down the price,” said Richard Asplund, research director for the MAC Solar Index, the tracking index for the Guggenheim Solar fund. “Pricing looks better for this year and next.” The Guinness Atkinson fund, loaded with Chinese solar panel producers, has suffered large losses the last three years. But it was up nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter.


Guinness says that investors have been too gloomy. “The sentiment on the sector is terrible,” he said. Negative sentiment has produced valuations “as low as we’ve seen” by measures like price to book, Guinness said.


Part of the problem, he said, is that has been widely viewed as a heavily subsidised market. But the latest extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit phases out solar subsidies for homes by 2021.


will soon have to compete without government support, Guinness said, but he’s untroubled by the switch. “We’re excited about the transition from a government market to a nonsubsidised market,” he said.


Such excitement may be difficult to sustain in the wake of recent Trump actions. On March 28, the president signed an executive order to initiate a rewrite of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an initiative designed to speed utility conversion from Under that plan, renewable energy sources were projected to become more important than and second only to natural gas in electricity generation by 2030, said Chris Namovicz, lead renewable energy analyst at the US Energy Information Administration. If the Clean Power Plan is really abandoned, he said, “in 2040, renewables will still be third, behind both and natural gas.”


©2017 The New York Times News Service

Investing in solar and wind in a coal and oil moment

The Guggenheim Global Solar ETF has lost over 24% a year over the last three years

The Guggenheim Global Solar ETF has lost over 24% a year over the last three years

Alternative energy investments like wind and have not performed well in recent years. To make matters worse, the has opted for a resurgence of and other carbon fuels, not an emphasis on alternative energy.


Yet there is a reasonable argument that the outlook for investing in renewable energy may actually be quite good. For one thing, wind and have been rapidly winning market acceptance. Last year, the installed capacity of in the United States nearly doubled. And wind is now being harnessed to produce 5.5 percent of America’s electricity, according to the US Energy Information Administration.


Five states draw at least 20 per cent of their electricity needs from wind. Kansas, for example, relied on wind for less than 1 per cent of its electric power as recently as 2005. By 2016, wind produced 29.6 per cent of its electric power, according to government figures.


Intriguingly, all five of the most wind-dependent states — Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota — are traditional Republican strongholds. “The windiest places in the country are all red states,” said Garvin Jabusch, a manager of the Shelton Green Alpha mutual fund.


And the solar industry now employs over 260,000 workers nationwide, many of them in states that have leaned Republican. Texas, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina are among the largest solar employers.


The reliance of these states on wind and solar could foreshadow continuing support for alternative energy within sectors of the Republican party, despite the pro-fossil-fuel stance of the president. Along with Gina M Raimondo, the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, Sam Brownback, the Republican governor of Kansas, recently wrote a letter to President Trump that said “expanding renewable energy production is one of the best ways to meet the country’s growing demand for energy.” And, the governors added, “The nation’s wind and solar resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago.”


Ryan Issakainen, exchange-traded fund strategist and senior vice president at First Trust Bank, said that such sentiments could maintain policy support for solar and wind power. “Policies that favour over other sources would be sound in places like West Virginia,” he said. “But if you’re in the middle part of the country where you’ve got more opportunity for wind power, you’re not going to be supportive of pro- policies.”


Edward Guinness, portfolio manager of the Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy fund, went further, saying, “I think the presence of wind and solar production in red states could splinter the GOP on Trump’s plans.”


Still, solar’s recent past has been miserable for many investors. The Guggenheim Global Solar ETF has lost over 24 per cent a year over the last three years, according to Morningstar. Wind has fared better, but with an annual total return of 4.95 per cent the last three years First Trust Global Wind Energy ETF has lagged in an exuberant bull market. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, for example, gained over 10 percent a year in the same period.


But for solar power, the fundamental economic outlook may conceivably be improving. “The reason solar stocks have done poorly is a big oversupply of panels, which drove down the price,” said Richard Asplund, research director for the MAC Solar Index, the tracking index for the Guggenheim Solar fund. “Pricing looks better for this year and next.” The Guinness Atkinson fund, loaded with Chinese solar panel producers, has suffered large losses the last three years. But it was up nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter.


Guinness says that investors have been too gloomy. “The sentiment on the sector is terrible,” he said. Negative sentiment has produced valuations “as low as we’ve seen” by measures like price to book, Guinness said.


Part of the problem, he said, is that has been widely viewed as a heavily subsidised market. But the latest extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit phases out solar subsidies for homes by 2021.


will soon have to compete without government support, Guinness said, but he’s untroubled by the switch. “We’re excited about the transition from a government market to a nonsubsidised market,” he said.


Such excitement may be difficult to sustain in the wake of recent Trump actions. On March 28, the president signed an executive order to initiate a rewrite of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an initiative designed to speed utility conversion from Under that plan, renewable energy sources were projected to become more important than and second only to natural gas in electricity generation by 2030, said Chris Namovicz, lead renewable energy analyst at the US Energy Information Administration. If the Clean Power Plan is really abandoned, he said, “in 2040, renewables will still be third, behind both and natural gas.”


©2017 The New York Times News Service


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Norm Alster | NYT

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