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Earlier this month, I touched on solar energy investments. Despite the big plunge in crude oil prices, the voices calling out for us to explore alternative energy sources are just as loud as they were in the early summer. Where there have been pushes for alternative energy exploration in the past, the resiliency of the argument this time should set off some alarms.

Many are realizing that steps need to be taken within the private sector and within U.S. legislation. The demand for alternative energy keeps growing and companies in the industry should see fantastic growth.

Hampton Pearson, a CNBC correspondent, was interviewed during the Power Lunch segment yesterday and his focus was on the recent U.S. Climate Action Partnership meeting. This meeting brought together big private sector names, such as Alcoa (NYSE:AA), GE (NYSE:GE), DuPont (NYSE:DD), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), and Lehman Brothers (LEH), with environmental groups, including Environmental Defense and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The main goal of the partnership is to find ways of slowing, stopping and reversing greenhouse gasses through corporate action as well as government incentives.
Pearson believes electric power generation and greater incentives for those operating under the EPA's "cap and trade" system will be the first step. "People want to see action taking place," says GE head Jeff Immelt, noting a mood change across the world towards environmental impact. Participants hope to put pressure on the government to establish federal legislation, as opposed to letting the states determine their own policies. This would provide an easier entrance into clean emission production. The big picture here is that the push is on to put country wide legislation into place that will open doors for alternative energy companies to increase their business.

We've seen Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) move to install solar energy panels at a large number of stores and Sanyo (OTC:SANYY) just signed a huge deal with Hoku Scientific (HOKU) this week, sending Hoku's shares soaring upwards. In the article I linked to earlier, I mentioned a scenario like this with SolarEnertech [SOEN.OB]. Corporations are beginning to make the move towards alternative energy and this will prove to be very profitable for businesses in the industry. Companies like Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) could prove to be good plays for the solar industry.

Within ethanol, Pacific Ethanol (NASDAQ:PEIX), VeraSun (VSE) and Aventine (AVR) saw some nice price movements Monday, up 7.6%, 7.09% and 3.45%, respectively. An analyst at Zack's sees tremendous long-term growth in the ethanol industry and many think it could receive a boost with the President's State of the Union address tonight.

In conclusion, I'm leaning towards the solar sector for strong growth. There are larger corporate earnings to be had with ethanol in the short-term, but I believe there are more complications in the long-term. As solar technology grows and becomes more economical to implement, it will be a very viable option for companies looking to decrease their emissions and embrace a new direction.

Disclosure: I am long ESLR and PEIX.