There are only 2 Solar Energy ETFs in the Market right now – TAN and KWT.Note buying solar ETF provides a less risky way of investing in solar energy as some stocks can dramatically underperform in this fast growing industry.However Solar ETFs will on the other hand perform much worse than the best performing stocks in the solar universe.This is because their holdings are also concentrated on some of the lesser quality companies.KWT and TAN are better investments for the less informed and less sophisticated investors.Amongst the 2 ETFs,KWT is the better option than TAN for a number of reasons which are described below.

Polysilicon or refined silicon is the raw material behind most of the world’s consumer electronics.Polysilicon is used to make both solar and semiconductor silicon wafers.Silicon wafers are used in making chips which are used by the Intels and Samsungs of the world while Solar Wafers are used in making solar crystalline panels used in generating electricity from the sun.Most of the world’s major solar energy companies used c-Si Technology in making solar panels.Polysilicon is an energy intensive process which requires cheap electricity.The polysilicon is produced mostly in the western countries like Japan,USA and Germany now.However the rise of solar panel producers in Asia has given rise to large volume Asian producers of polysilicon as well.Note Polysilicon production is concentrated in the hands of 8-9 companies unlike solar panel production which is done by hundreds of companies.This is a capital intensive process and requires around 2 years to complete a single plant.Semiconductors require higher purity levels of Polysilicon than the solar industry.The massive increase in demand from the solar industry has led to massive growth in poly production.Here are a list of the main polysilicon companies in the world

France recently halted its solar subsidy program for 3 months for solar installations under 3 kw as it was deluged with a large number of applications.Solar Feed in Tariffs are quite generous for certain type of solar panel installations like BIPV and greenhouses.This combined with rapidly falling solar panel prices primarly due to low cost Chinese manufacturing has made the business extremely lucrative.Note France is not the first country to see a massive flood of solar applications.Spain,Czech,Germany,Australia have faced problems with solar feed in tariff programs mainly because of poor design by slow moving bureaucrats.However most of these countries have never blamed cheap Chinese panel imports for their badly designed programs.Germany which is the undisputed solar market leader did for a while raise the Chinese bogey but it was for a short while.Anyone with a little understanding of the solar industry would know that almost 50% of the value is created in installation which is all done locally.Also most of the polysilicon raw material is made in the West as also most of the equipment used in producing panels in China.

Germany is almost certain to cut the solar feed in tariff in 2011 on top of the regular 13% decrease.Note Germany is the largest solar market in the world by far and installed an astounding 8 GW of solar panels in 2010.With almost 18 GW of total solar installations,the German solar energy capacity is almost half of the world’s capacity despite bad conditions for solar energy.Germany had set a target of around 4-5 GW of solar energy this year in the upper case and this has been vastly exceeded as solar module price cuts have made it attractive to install solar panels.

Coal Prices have started to increase in the international market alongwith other commodities like wheat,sugar,corn,gold,copper etc.But unlike other commodities,Coal has a disproportionate effect on Energy Prices.Note Coal is the principal supplier of top energy consumers like China,USA,India,Germany etc.The cheap price and abundance of coal has made it the fossil fuel of choice for generating electricity.The Technology for mining,processing and using coal to generate energy is well developed and cheap.This is the main reason for Coal’s growing use despite its reputation as the Dirtiest Form of Energy.Coal Mining also regularly leads to hundreds of deaths even in developed countries like USA and New Zealand.However Growing Carbon Emissions due to Coal and its Supply Shortages has resulted in looking for alternative forms.Clean Coal Technology and CCS are looked upon as means to try and improve the carbon footprint of Coal.However the CCS Technology remains immature and expensive as of now .

Wind Energy Companies are increasingly facing competition from a host of new entrants into the industry.The dominants firms Vestas,Gamesa and Suzlon have seen their stock prices fall steeply due to declining revenues and margins.A number of Giant Industrial Firms have entered the Wind Energy Industry to diversify from the slow growth in their own sectors.Korean Shipbuilders have invested heavily in the Wind Turbine Manufacturing en masse to take advantage of the secular growth of Wind Energy.Chinese companies have risen from virtually nothing 5 years ago to become Top 5 Global Wind Energy Players.Companies like Sinovel,Goldwind,Mingyang Power are now trying to spread their wings outside of China.India’s Wind Energy Industry is comparatively small but it has also seen a number of wind power companies setting up facilities with technology licensed from the West.The slowdown in the Western Markets has led to huge problems for dominant Western firms like Gamesa and Vestas.It has led to painful restructuring for Vestas which has fired thousands of workers from its domestic manufacturing base in Denmark.Gamesa has also seen management and ownership turmoil as WTG Orders have evaporated and its competitive position has eroded.GE,Suzlon,Gamesa and Vestas are all investing in the Chinese market which has grown exponentially in recent times and which is expected to form 50% of the Wind Energy Demand till the next few years.