Solar is shaping up to have another big year in 2011. I say “another” because it had a great year in 2010. It is just that the financial press didn’t pay attention to it.

They should have.

In the last 12 months, the S&P has increased about 20%.

That is a great year.

But look at what some solar companies have done in the last 12 months.

One is up over 40%, nearly twice the S&P.

Another is up nearly 80%. And one is up 120%.

Unless you really follow the alternative energy sector, you have likely never heard of any of these companies.

The solar industry had a major growth spurt last year. For the first time ever, more than 1 gigawatt of capacity was installed.

That is an increase of 114% compared to 2009, when only 441 megawatts were installed.

It is easy to see why solar power is gaining favor. Most of our traditional energy source, oil, is located in politically unfriendly areas. And oil keeps getting more expensive.

While oil is getting more and more expensive, solar panels are getting cheaper and cheaper.

The price of a photovoltaic module (what you think of when you picture a rooftop solar panel) has dropped by more than half in the past two years.

And nothing can beat solar when it comes to safe energy. Solar produces no noise. It doesn’t cause air or water pollution. And unlike oil, there’s no risk of price spikes or delivery problems. It comes from the sun… it’s just there.

Plus, the number of solar projects in the approval and planning stages are growing every day.

In late October, the Department of the Interior approved the 1,000 megawatt Blythe Solar Power project to be built in the Mojave Desert. The project will cost $6 billion and is the first ever to be built on federal land.

With six more such projects in the works, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has called it the start of a boom in solar power on federal land.

And with good reason.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama said he wants 80% of the nation’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2035.

Currently, we get only about 7% of our energy from renewable sources. So there’s a lot of work to be done.

The goal of the Solar Energy Industries Association is to install 10 gigawatts of solar power per year by 2015.

And by 2020, that jumps to 20 GW per year.

Meanwhile, the government is doing everything it can to make this happen.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the helping hand the government is giving the solar industry. They are making it nearly impossible for solar to fail. And I will give you some solar companies to consider adding to your portfolio.

“Goldmine at my fingertips”

“ETR is a veritable goldmine at my fingertips. Merely reading this first issue, I can see the world opening up to me. I wish I had made my subscription to ETR earlier. I can’t wait to receive the next issue.”

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