Edmond Becquerel invented photovoltaic (PV) cells in 1839. Since then, scientific developments have taken the solar cell a long way. Solar energy is now a rapidly growing industry, thanks to the massive dip in prices for solar energy systems in the last decade. If you feel you have a lot to catch up on, INN is here to educate you on the technology behind solar panels, as well as the best micro-cap companies to invest in that are operating in the sector. Those listed have market caps no greater than $50 million.
First, an important sidenote. Cleantech could be having a moment as Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has just rebranded itself, away from being solely a car company, to becoming a diversified energy products company. It has dropped ‘Motors’ from its name. As a market leader in sustainable energy solutions, Tesla’s November acquisition of SolarCity bodes well for innovations in the space.
How solar panels work
SaveOnEnergy has a handy infographic on the science of solar. To paraphrase, panels are made up of silicon and conductive metals, that form an electric field. Solar rays shake electrons in the silicon and a circuit generates a current out of their movement.
Companies to look for
1. Yingli Green Energy Holding Company (NYSE:YGE)
Yingli Green Energy is a Chinese, vertically-integrated manufacturer of products, across the entire solar panel production process, including semiconductors. China leads the pack when it comes to the solar semiconductor industry. Yingli has a market cap of $46.20 million.
Sunworks designs and installs solar power systems, whether for homeowners, businesses or agricultural companies. This American company has a market cap of $40.09 million and has had a strong start to the year, seeing gains of 1.5 percent so far.
3. American DG Energy (NYSEMKT:ADGE)
As a distributor, owner and operator of clean energy systems, American DG offers customers alternative energy equipment like solar cells. With a market cap of $18.32 million, this is the smallest on the list.
Cleantech company Tecogen (NASDAQ:TGEN) is to acquire American DG Energy sometime in the first half of 2017. Their solar systems can supply power in outages and also at dawn and dusk, due to combining with their Combined Heat & Power (CHP) tech.
It is predicted that further cost reductions will be less on the manufacturing and technological side and increasingly on post-construction expenses, such as financing and selling. A price drop is an investment gain for investors, as more companies come to market and more consumers buy the product.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Emma Harwood, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.