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RenewableEnergyWorld.com’s Most Popular Stories of 2013

As editors we delight in learning which of the stories that we wrote or commissioned were most popular with our readers. That’s why at the end of each calendar year, we pull reports that tell us which stories we posted got the most shares, the most views, the most comments, etc. We also look at which videos were watched the most. Often, we post articles that we know will be a big hit: like explanations of controversial solar legislation. But other times you surprise us, readers, by taking great interest in articles that we felt were solid but not necessarily ground-breaking.

In any case, you keep us on our toes and we look forward to continuing to bring you news from all across the renewable energy industry in 2014. 

So without further ado, here are our most-popular stories of 2013.  Taken as a whole the list gives us a good sense of where the market was in 2013 and even sheds some light on where it might go in 2014.  We hope you enjoy!

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#10

Everyone wants to know where to put their money in order to make it grow.  This article offered advice to those who want to invest in renewable energy mutual funds.

Top Ranked Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs for 2013

By: Harris Roen, Roen Financial Report 

Published: January 09, 2013 

Mutual Funds

2012 was a good year for alternative energy mutual funds. On average all funds returned over 9% for the year, with over half the funds posting gains of 15% or better. The best performing funds were Allianz RCM Global Water (AWTAX) and Pax World Global Environmental Markets (PGRNX). Both had annual returns in the 20% range.

These two best performing funds for the year have also dropped one notch from their Rank 1 status (see rankings here). The fund that declined most in rank was Calvert Global Alternative Energy A (CGAEX), which now rests at a Rank 5. This drop is accredited to shortcomings in the mechanics of the fund, including its high expense ratio relative to the other alternative energy mutual funds, and a low “Alpha” (essentially a measure of the value a fund's manager brings to the portfolio).

It is interesting to note that the funds which performed the worst for the year overall, Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX) and Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX), also performed best in the past month. This goes to show that chasing performance, especially on mutual funds, is usually not the best way to pick an investment. A much better approach is to look at multiple criteria in order to determine the fund most likely to have good returns going forward.

Read the entire article here.

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#9

This article surprised us with its popularity because it was one of only a few articles that we had posted about crowdfunding renewable energy projects. Its quick rise in popularity was a good indication to us that crowdfunding was a topic to watch.   We’ll be sure to bring you more articles and op-eds like this next year.

Dutch Wind Turbine Purchase Sets World Crowdfunding Record

By: Tildy Bayar, Associate Editor, Renewable Energy World 

Published: September 24, 2013

Raising €1.3 million in just thirteen hours, 1700 Dutch households that came together to buy shares in a wind turbine have set a new world record for crowdfunding.

All 6,648 shares in the electricity from the Vestas V80 2-MW wind turbine were sold, at a share price of €200. Each household bought single shares or blocks of shares, with each share corresponding to an output of around 500 kWh/share per year.

The purchase was organized by Windcentrale, a company that facilitates cooperative wind turbine purchases. Windcentrale said it had enabled more than 6,900 Dutch citizens to buy shares in wind turbines, and according to co-founder Harm Reitsma there is a growing list of several thousand people who have expressed interest in future purchase options.

In addition to the purchase price, shareholders will pay a fee of €23 per year for turbine maintenance. Homeowners will be able to monitor wind speeds and electricity production levels in real time using a smartphone app, Windcentrale said.

The turbine is located in Culemborg, in the centre of the Netherlands. 

Read the entire article here.

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#8

Posted this month!  This very popular article about investing in the stock market is good reflection of the renewed interest in renewable energy investing.

Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013: Lessons Learned

By: Tom Konrad, Contributor 

Published: December 10, 2013

As we come into the final stretch of 2013, my annual model portfolio of Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2013 looks certain to break its five year winning streak of beating its industry benchmark. As of December 6th, the model portfolio's total return has been 19.0 percent, compared to a sunny 56.1 percent for my benchmark, the Powershares Wilderhill Clean Energy (PBW). The broad market, as represented by the Russell 2000, also resoundingly beat my model portfolio, and is up 37.5 percent. My six alternative picks fared even worse than my top ten.

The consolation of a bad year is the chance to look at my mistakes and see what I can learn from them.  There were three reasons for my under performance.  First, 2013 was a year led by popular, "story" stocks, which appeal to the imagination.  Second, solar stocks had a blistering comeback after being massively oversold at the end of 2012.  Finally, I repeated a mistake from prior years and stuck with two clean energy developers, thinking that the market would recognize the value of their assets.  

Read the entire article here.

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#7

This article was first published in our all-new digital edition.  Why not subscribe today?

The Big Question: Can Countries Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy?

By: Renewable Energy World Editors 

Published: October 17, 2013

Several countries, including Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain all of their power from renewable energy. With many countries setting their sights on much lower, incremental goals, these lofty aspirations have jarred the industry and sparked a debate.

Renewable Energy World asked industry executives to share their thoughts and insights on this controversial question:

What are the major barriers that countries face in order to reach 100 percent renewable energy — is this goal always achievable or desirable?

We want to hear your opinion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read the entire article, including the executive responses, here.

Subscribe to the digital edition here.

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#6

Last year’s solar outlook for 2013 was a well-done, informative piece of analysis and it comes in at our number 6 most-read article of the year.  We’ll post our 2014 Outlooks for each renewable energy technology in January.  Stay tuned.

The Solar Energy Outlook for 2013

By: Vince Font, Contributing Editor 

Published: January 01, 2013  

With 2013 poised to pounce, now’s the time for all forward thinking solar proponents to peer into that proverbial crystal ball to see what the new year holds in store. What will 2013 look like for global solar initiatives? How will this impact the creation of jobs? Here’s what some of the experts have to say about the outlook for the coming year.

Low Cost Solar PV Will Lead to Increased Development and More Jobs

As a result of the oversupply of solar PV panels in 2011 and 2012, costs were driven down significantly. This spelled bad news for solar PV manufacturers seeking to make decent returns or any returns at all, but led to increased opportunities for downstream providers to pursue large-scale solar developments, both within the major global markets and also developing countries that previously weren’t able to afford solar.

Read the entire article here.

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#5

More on solar investing, this article was shared on Facebook 256 times!

What Does Warren Buffett See in Solar?

By: Elisa Wood, Contributor 

Published: April 24, 2013

Everyone wants to see inside Warren Buffett's head. One of the world's most successful investors, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is a rock star among those who check the markets before their breakfast. His annual shareholder letters are famous, generating the kind of hoopla among his followers as a just-released Harry Potter novel does among children. Even U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Buffett, or at least he quotes him often. In fact, headline writers have come to call Buffett the 'Oracle of Obama', a play on the Nebraska native's nickname of the 'Oracle of Omaha'.

What's the best way to gain insight into Buffett's thinking? Probably by watching his companies. And now, among his big insurance, chemical and utility holdings is a renewable energy company that is making some eye-catching moves. In its first 12 months in business, MidAmerican Renewables has acquired some of the largest solar projects in the world.

What do these aggressive moves by a Buffett-backed business say about the solar market? Will others follow? And why did MidAmerican Renewables choose these particular projects?

Read the entire article here.

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#4

With renewable energy on solid footing, recent college graduates and those interested in a career change are exploring ways to get even more education in renewables.  So, probably due to its high rank when someone types the words “renewable energy masters degree” into google, this article is in our top 10 year after year.

More Universities Offering Master's Degree Programs in Renewable Energy

By: Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor 

"Ohio is in the midst of major job losses and is trying to reinvent itself as a tech-based economy. One of those ways is in the area of 'green' jobs," said Kevin Hallinan, director of the University of Dayton's master's program in clean and renewable energy.

Renewable energy companies in Ohio were pleased to learn about the state's first master's program in clean and renewable energy.

"We consider this program to be good news for us, the U.S. solar industry and the state," said Carol Campbell, First Solar vice president of human resources.

Read the entire article here.

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#3

Even more interest in education for the renewable energy industry, this article offers advice to future job-seekers and is a follow up to the 4th most-read article.

Tips on Seeking a Renewable Energy Degree

By: Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor 

Published: September 13, 2010

September is back to school month for many in the U.S. and elsewhere. As one season fades into the next, it's time for new beginnings and fresh thinking. Change is in the air and for some that means thinking about a career in clean energy.

Many analysts predict that by 2020 the global clean energy economy will top one trillion dollars.  With that much money on the table, it’s no surprise that people all over the world are wondering how they might join this vibrant new field. And green jobs may be more lucrative, too. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, green jobs pay an average of 10 to 20% more than other jobs. 

“Green expertise makes an excellent overlay on almost any existing career,” said Kristen Bacorn, a nationally recognized educator and LEED certified building expert. 

Bacorn believes that almost anyone can benefit from learning about the green economy.  “To give an example from my own career as an educator and consultant, I earn more from green education and consulting than from conventional education and consulting,” she said.

Bacorn teaches courses designed for real estate professionals and others on topics such as green building, environmental regulation and green appraisal among others.  She is part of a growing trend of educators, institutions and training programs focusing on the clean energy industry.

Read the entire article here.

Image: Degree via Shutterstock

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#2

This article was so popular when we published it online that put out another version of it in our digital edition.  Give yourself the gift of a subscription in 2014.  It’s free! More information at this link.

Rank 'Em: The Most Solar-Friendly States in the US

By:James Montgomery, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com 

Published: July 30, 2013

A new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center acknowledges what it deems are the top 12 U.S. states for solar energy ranked by several criteria, from new and cumulative installed capacity to actual electrical generation to a variety of solar energy-friendly policies. Most are unsurprising, but there are some worthy comparisons — and criticisms — to be made.

More descriptions will follow on the next few pages (ranked in reverse order, for suspense' sake), but nearly all of them share the same characteristics: clear renewable electricity standards with carve-outs for solar, strong statewide interconnection policies, strong net metering policies, and accommodation for creative financing options including third-party ownership and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. 

Solar energy in the top 12 solar states (in red), vs. the rest of the U.S. Credit: Environment America Research & Policy Center

These 12 states account for barely a quarter of the nation's population (28 percent), but almost all of its installed solar energy (85 percent). "The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more," stated Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America. More than half of U.S. states have the technical potential to generate more than 20 percent of their electricity from rooftop solar PV, and that jumps to 30 percent for sun-drenched California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado.

Read the entire article here.

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#1 Most-read Article of 2013 

Because of its disruptive nature, solar had to fight a few battles in 2013, one of which we highlighted in this article.  Obviously readers were as interested in the subject as we were. 

Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

By: Lauren Poole, Correspondent 

Published: August 07, 2013

California is no stranger to rolling blackouts. When Charles and Elke Hewitt installed a solar electric system with batteries for emergency backup power on their home this April, they were shocked when Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program. And the Hewitt family was not alone. Soon all homeowners with solar electric systems with battery backup in California could be affected by Edison’s stance on backup power.

Edison informed the couple their application for grid connection was denied because the batteries they used to store energy for emergency backup power when the grid went down were considered “power generators” and not energy storage devices, said Charles Hewitt. Edison said Hewitt did not qualify for their net metering program because the utility could not distinguish between power produced by the solar panels and power produced by the batteries, which it considers a nonrenewable source of power, he said. Edison explained their policy had not changed. It was the equipment that had changed. Members of the solar industry refute Edison's position.

“We were excited to use our system and stop paying electric bills,” he said. “Summers are peak production for solar and now we are told we can’t use our system. I have thousands of dollars of PV system sitting on my roof that now I can’t use.”

Read the entire article here.

That’s our top 10 most popular articles of 2013.  We hope you continue to enjoy reading RenewableEnergyWorld.com in the years ahead.  Happy Holidays!

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