America's Coal Country Is Embracing the Power - and Profit Potential - of Solar

When he passed away last September at the age of 91, T. Boone Pickens generated dozens of media biographies. Nearly all of them missed a key detail about his last years...

Of course, a billionaire with his reputation as a savvy business leader would no doubt get lots of obituaries written about him. And most focused on his very successful career as an oil and gas baron.

It's easy to see why. After all, in 2007 alone, he is reported to have earned more than $2.7 billion from his two energy-investing funds.

So, it may sound surprising for me to suggest that those obituaries were inaccurate...

Here's the thing - at least two years before his death, Pickens went through a sea change and closed his energy funds. He became a massive backer of solar technology.

Now, I spoke to you recently about all the opportunity that I'm seeing heading our way, thanks to the solar revolution. No doubt, a smart businessman like T. Boone Pickens also realized the sheer scope of this technological transformation. It all comes down to basic science.

Boone (as he was known) saw what many people are beginning to see: Renewables are the next generation in energy production.

His move into solar is a major signal of the profit potential we can unlock from this sector.

This same sentiment has reached another key audience - one that will supercharge solar's growth.

You see, deep in the heart of American coal country, experts are putting their faith in sunlight...

[mmpazkzone name="in-story" network="9794" site="307044" id="137008" type="4"]

Land of Opportunity

Boone knew what many are just learning.

Renewable technology can produce energy as cheaply as fossil fuels. And it's easier to find sites for the sun and steady wind than it is to find oil and gas deposits.

Boone saw the fact that his adopted home state of Texas was now the national leader in renewable energy production.

He grew up in the business, in Oklahoma, around oil and oil men. His father sold oil and mineral rights.

By 1956, just a few years out of college, he founded Mesa Petroleum. Within 15 years, it was one of the largest independent oil companies in the world.

In 1996, Boone sold Mesa and started a couple of energy investing funds instead. But shortly before he died, he spun out one of the funds and turned it into a renewable energy fund.

And Boone's not the only energy executive to go solar. Just look what's happening deep in the heart of Kentucky...

First, the state is - and has been for a very long time - a coal state. It's almost as famous for coal production (and consumption) as it is for bourbon and the Kentucky Derby.

That's why it was so notable when early into 2020, Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities Co. announced they were going to build and jointly operate a 100-megawatt solar power plant.

Plus, two industry titans would help fund the project and use some of the capacity for their factories - chemical giant Dow Inc. (NYSE: DOW) and carmaker Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM).

To give you some perspective on how big a deal this is in Kentucky, the two utilities currently generate 80% of their energy using coal, and 19% using natural gas.

In other words, almost every single watt of power comes from burning fossil fuels.

The new solar plant will be able to generate enough electricity for nearly 100,000 homes (assuming the rule of thumb that 1 milliwatt = 100 homes).

This isn't a small "experiment." This is a real renewable energy power plant that already has all its power bought and accounted for.

There's no doubt that coal-fired plants have been on the decline in the United States. In 2014, they accounted for nearly 40% of the power generated. By 2018, that number was 27%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

Part of this transition is happening because natural gas is now plentiful in the U.S. and it's much cheaper and easier to access and transport, not to mention more efficient.

But since this transition to natural gas has been occurring, the next generation of solar panels and wind farms have also been rolling out. And the prices have come down dramatically.

It used to be a dream of solar advocates to get the price of solar power installations down to $1/watt. But we've hit that now, and prices have continued to drop as new panels become increasingly efficient, giving the solar installations more bang for the buck.

Forecasters at GTM Research project that by 2022, solar-generated electricity will be down to $0.70 a watt. Talk about affordable.

It Makes Business Sense Now

Even with a coal-friendly administration in Washington, states and companies are giving renewables the green light - and not just because they're trying to save the planet, but because it makes good business sense.

Now the state most associated with fossil fuels - Texas - is hoping to become the biggest renewable energy producer in the United States.

You read that correctly.

Over the past 15 years, Texas has committed to a $7 billion plan to build the generation and transmission capacity of wind power in West Texas. In the Lone Star State, they love the fact that solar is now affordable and has created 25,000 jobs already.

Even in the middle of the fracking center of the universe, the Permian Basin, many of the rigs and their operations are powered by solar and wind.

Other states are now seeing this benefit, and if even Texas is on board, they really have no reason not to join the solar revolution.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the current global production of solar power is around 680 gigawatts. By 2026, that market is expected to be 4,766 GW. That's a sevenfold increase in the next six years.

And in California, a new energy initiative just went into effect this year. The Golden State is looking to go 100% renewable by 2045.

Remember, California is nearly the fifth largest economy in the world. So, what happens there could be a profit bonanza for savvy tech investors.

The state has mandated that beginning on Jan. 1 of this year, every new home in the state must be solar-powered.

We're talking a $153 billion stampede as home builders scramble to order solar panels. Without solar, they simply cannot get construction permits.

Turns out, there is one tiny company based in California that has what I believe are the keys to the solar kingdom.

I call it the Dark Burst device. See, the patented product is lucrative for a very good reason - it allows solar energy to power a home before the sun even comes up and continues to do so late into the evening when the sun has gone down.

Make no mistake. This is a massive breakthrough set to disrupt the entire solar industry.

In fact, it's so lucrative an event that I have prepared a special investing dossier just for you. In it, you will find out why the Dark Burst is set to unleash a $153 billion profit bonanza for investors.

It's important you get in now before Wall Street and Big Media wake up to the profit potential I'm talking about. To get your copy, simply click here.

Follow Money Morning onFacebook and Twitter.

About the Author

Michael A. Robinson is a 36-year Silicon Valley veteran and one of the top tech and biotech financial analysts working today. That's because, as a consultant, senior adviser, and board member for Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Michael enjoys privileged access to pioneering CEOs, scientists, and high-profile players. And he brings this entire world of Silicon Valley "insiders" right to you...

  • He was one of five people involved in early meetings for the $160 billion "cloud" computing phenomenon.
  • He was there as Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith, the CEOs of Chrysler and GM, led the robotics revolution that saved the U.S. automotive industry.
  • As cyber-security was becoming a focus of national security, Michael was with Dave DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, right before Intel acquired his company for $7.8 billion.

This all means the entire world is constantly seeking Michael's insight.

In addition to being a regular guest and panelist on CNBC and Fox Business, he is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter. His first book Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings warned people about the coming financial collapse - years before the word "bailout" became a household word.

Silicon Valley defense publications vie for his analysis. He's worked for Defense Media Network and Signal Magazine, as well as The New York Times, American Enterprise, and The Wall Street Journal.

And even with decades of experience, Michael believes there has never been a moment in time quite like this.

Right now, medical breakthroughs that once took years to develop are moving at a record speed. And that means we are going to see highly lucrative biotech investment opportunities come in fast and furious.

To help you navigate the historic opportunity in biotech, Michael launched the Bio-Tech Profit Alliance.

His other publications include: Strategic Tech Investor, The Nova-X Report, Bio-Technology Profit Alliance and Nexus-9 Network.

Read full bio