Energy, especially clean energy, will always be a vital part of our lives. It is like food and water-we can't stop consuming it. It's a necessity for us today in the world we live in, and will continue to be necessary in the future. Companies like First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) and FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ:FCEL) will play an important role as the world demands clean energy growth going forward.
FSLR is one of my top picks for alternative energy. It's a global leader in manufacturing solar panels and building solar plants to help power homes and businesses worldwide. FSLR is a win-win alternative energy solution because it's safe, it doesn't pollute the air, and all it needs is the sun. I like FSLR because it doesn't just build solar plants or install solar panels on people's roofs. It's a real research and development company that makes solar energy more advanced and efficient. I believe FSLR will remain a great source of clean energy in the future. It's still in its early stages of acquisitions, research and development. I trust the company can stay a leader in the solar industry going forward.
But there are a couple disadvantages for FSLR. The first is that it takes a lot of space to build solar plants. Second, solar power is sensitive to weather because it needs the sun's heat to generate electricity. Nonetheless, it's a great, clean supplement to other energy sources. Building FSLR's solar plants in areas where the sun is prominent will help meet the demand for clean energy in those areas. Unlike coal or oil, the raw material for a solar plant-sunshine-is cost free and pollution free. This will be a tremendous economic benefit to the company. I'm long FSLR here.
Another alternative environment-friendly energy company that really interests me, and I recommend buying it now, is FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL). It's an ultra-clean alternative energy company that designs, manufactures, services, and builds stationary Direct Fuel Cell (DFC) power plants. It has already built over 50 DFC power plants for utility companies, universities, hospitals, and other institutions around the world.
What makes FCEL unique? It builds stationary fuel cell power plants that provide continuous on-site power and electric grid support in a highly efficient electrochemical process. It's clean, quiet, and requires only modest space. Therefore, it can be situated anywhere, populated areas or not, with sun or no sun. It's also fuel flexible, capable of operating on natural gas, food processing, renewable biogas, or directed biogas. It's considered to have the highest efficiency and reliability rate than any other distributed generator technology. It's also more cost-effective than conventional power plants.
Recently FCEL has seen increasing demand for its DFC power plants worldwide. Right now, it's building a 14.9 megawatt fuel cell park in Bridgeport, Conn. It will be ready to generate power by the end of 2013. To understand the scope, realize that every 1.4 MW generated by a DFC power plant can power 1400 houses. It's also working with Posco Energy to build a 59 MW fuel cell park in Hwasung City, South Korea. The park is expected to be fully operational by early 2014. These two projects are the largest DFC power plants the company has constructed since its inception in 1961.
If the project in South Korea is successful, which I highly believe it will be, FCEL's DFC power plants will catch on elsewhere quickly, if they haven't already. In my opinion, it would be logical to build DFC power plants in Japan to replace its nuclear power plants, it being a country prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact, it could replace nuclear power plants everywhere, including here in the U.S.
FCEL hasn't turned a profit since 1997, and it shows in its stock price, currently at $1.52. I usually don't care for stocks under $10, but FCEL fascinates me with its industry and innovation. On May 24, 2013, its stock shot up 34 cents, an increase of 28.81 percent, with high volume. It caught my attention. It was trading eight times higher than its daily average volume of 2 million. I call it a buy. I believe it has the potential to move higher from this level, due to increasing demand for DFC power plants. Increased demand for products mean increased revenue for the company. So in the next few quarters, I believe FCEL will turn profitable.
I don't think there will be just one kind of clean energy company that's going to generate power for the whole world. I believe it will take multiple technologies. For example, it makes sense to use FSLR's solar plants in areas where there is a lot of sun. In areas with less sunshine and where space is limited, then installing FCEL's power plants would make great sense. These two companies are leaders in their industry, and they're still in their earliest development stages. They both will be great supplements in the demand for clean energy going forward. I recommend both companies as buys for the long term.