Nuclear Power

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Nuclear power is a growing force “intrinsically tied to National Security” according to the U.S. Department of Energy, making it a force in global economics, politics and beyond.

In recent decades, the U.S. has ceded its competitive advantage in nuclear energy to China and Russia— something that politicians and industry leaders alike seem motivated to rectify. That’s a big deal considering that the global market for nuclear power could triple by 2050. Much of this growth is anticipated to come from increased demand from emerging markets.

The opportunity in engaging emerging markets with exported nuclear energy extends beyond financial. Nuclear agreements can translate to long-term strategic relationships, which is no surprise when you consider that the construction, operation and decommissioning of a nuclear facility can take years. 

If the U.S. can take a leading role in developing these markets, it could both help to ensure national security and a leading role in the global energy marketplace.

But, Russia and China are both vying for the same position, increasing their nuclear production and developing relationships around the world. China, for example, has added 21 reactors in the past 5 years, with 19 more in the works. China also recently revealed its first domestically developed nuclear reactor. According to the China National Nuclear Corporation, the reactor can generate 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and cut carbon emissions by 8.16 million tons. 

Nuclear power is a highly competitive industry with long-lasting implications. Here’s what investors should know. 

What Is Nuclear Power?

To understand the importance of nuclear power, it’s important to understand the basics of how nuclear energy is generated. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

“Nuclear energy is energy in the core of an atom. Atoms are the tiny particles in the molecules that make up gases, liquids, and solids… An atom has a nucleus (or core) containing protons and neutrons, which is surrounded by electrons. Protons carry a positive electrical charge, and electrons carry a negative electrical charge. Neutrons do not have an electrical charge. Enormous energy is present in the bonds that hold the nucleus together. This nuclear energy can be released when those bonds are broken. The bonds can be broken through nuclear fission, and this energy can be used to produce (generate) electricity.”

Nuclear power plants conduct nuclear fission, which splits atoms apart to release energy. (Uranium is commonly used for this process.) The energy that is released in this process presents itself in the form of heat and radiation. 

Nuclear energy is notably different from chemical burning, which produces carbon output. 

Why Invest in Nuclear Power?

Nuclear power has long found opposition from environmentalists specifically because of the challenges associated with disposing radioactive waste. Even so, it’s anticipated that nuclear energy may play an essential role in a no or low-carbon energy future. 

That’s right, nuclear energy is arguably more sustainable than natural gas and other fossil fuels. 

In recent years, moving energy sources from coal to natural gas has been a key step toward decarbonizing. Switching from coal to nuclear power, however, is more “radically decarbonizing.” In fact, the only greenhouse gases released in the production of nuclear power are those associated with the “construction, mining, fuel processing, maintenance, and decommissioning” of a plant. 

Another perk of nuclear power plants is that they offer a much higher capacity (that is, a greater percentage of time that the power plant spends producing energy) than both renewable energy sources and fossil fuels. 

Consider that in the United States in 2016, “nuclear power plants, which generated almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity, had an average capacity factor of 92.3 percent, meaning they operated at full power on 336 out of 365 days per year” (with many of the days not in operation used for maintenance). This is much different than other power sources including U.S. hydroelectric systems, which delivered power only 38.2 percent of the time (138 days per year); wind turbines, which delivered power only 34.5 percent of the time (127 days per year); and solar electricity, which delivered power only 25.1 percent of the time (92 days per year), according to information provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Coal and natural gas plants generally only generate power about 50 percent of the time. 

In this sense, nuclear energy generation is more reliable and efficient. 

So, do fewer carbon emissions and greater capacity outweigh radioactive waste? It can. 

First it’s worth mentioning that non-nuclear energy, like coal, actually releases some radiation. Secondly, radioactivity decreases over time, unlike the waste products of other energy-production methods. Currently, interim storage facilities are used to manage nuclear waste until its radioactivity is decreased such that it can be disposed of. Storage containers, age, however, and when they do, they can leak toxic materials. 

But, new technology is offering better storage solutions. Specifically, storage of waste in deep geological repositories is more secure and environmentally friendly. In Finland, the world’s first ever deep geological repository for spent fuel is under construction. The repository, named Onkalo, “is a game changer for the long-term sustainability of nuclear energy,” according to Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. 

The facility is roughly 450 meters below ground level and will collect all of the spent fuel from Finland’s nuclear power reactors for thousands of years. This is remarkable considering that sustainably developing nuclear power is anticipated to be an important step in preventing climate change. 

Investors should know that even in a politically divided America, both “congressional Republicans and Democrats have shown their support for a robust domestic reactor fleet and for a strong civil nuclear export program,” according to EnergySource. As the U.S. ramps up its efforts to meet climate change goals, investors have the assurances of a growing and evolving nuclear energy market. 

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The information and data are as of the January 4, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Aquaculture

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When you are shopping in the grocery store or picking out dinner in a restaurant, do you insist on wild-caught fish? Do you care if your fish is farm raised? Turns out, most people don’t. According to the United Nations, about 47 percent of the world’s total fish supply comes from aquaculture. This translates to a global aquaculture market that is expected to grow to more than $52.4 billion by 2026.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO’s) 2020 report, “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020,” per capita fish consumption grew from 9 kilograms in 1961 to 20.5 kilograms in 2018, equating to around 1.5% growth each year. Per the report, in 2017, fish consumption accounted for 17% of the world population’s intake of animal proteins, and 7% of all proteins consumed. 

That’s a lot of fish, and a huge opportunity for the aquaculture industry.

The market is responding to huge demand growing fast, with annual fish production expected to expand from 179 million tons in 2018 to 204 million tons by 2030. According to the FAO, aquaculture production specifically is projected to reach 109 million tons in 2030, representing an increase of 32% compared to 2018.

Still, most people might be surprised to learn that the “the number of fish eaten from fish farms is roughly even with the number of wild fish consumed, especially as the demand for fish has grown,” according to UC Santa Cruz researcher Anne Kapuscinski.

Here’s what investors should know about the aquaculture industry. 

What Is Aquaculture?

Simply put, aquaculture is the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of fish, shellfish, algae, and other organisms in all types of water environments, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Aquaculture often takes place in coastal marine waters and the open ocean. Aquaculture in the US produces numerous species including oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, seaweeds, and fish such as salmon, black sea bass, sablefish, yellowtail, and pompano. In addition to producing food, aquaculture restores habitat, replenishes wild stocks, and rebuilds populations of threatened and endangered species, according to NOAA.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the top five fish producing countries in 2019 were China (63.7 million metric tons), Indonesia (16.6 million metric tons), India (5.7 million metric tons),Vietnam (3.6 million metric tons) and Bangladesh (2.2 million tons). Asia accounted for 89 percent of world aquaculture production by volume, most of which was produced by China. 

Why Invest in Aquaculture?

The world’s appetite for fish isn’t anticipated to slow down anytime soon. By 2030, the FAO anticipates that the global human population will eat 30 million tons of fish. 

In part, that’s because the world is demanding more protein than ever. Two strong drivers of the growing aquaculture industry include an increasing population growth and protein consumption per capita. Where this growth can potentially leave oceans overfished and depleted, aquaculture offers a creative solution.

According to Forbes, the fish industry “is a decade or more behind all other production animals with respect to innovation — and thus is one of the more attractive opportunities…for agtech investors and startups alike.” 

The industry, however, is not without challenges. From bacterial and viral infections among densely populated fish to environmental impacts, aquaculture isn’t perfect. 

There is, however, ample opportunity for scientific solutions. For investors, this means investment opportunities in everything from improved vaccines to fish food to genetic engineering of fish that are more resilient and adaptable. According to Global Market Insights, the global aquaculture vaccines market alone will reach $290 million by the year 2025. Even more, supplying nutrients to the aquaculture industry is a $60 billion opportunity

Investment in fish farming is happening now, and happening here. In November 2020, the company Pure Salmon announced that it will build a large indoor fish-farming operation in Virginia. Pure Salmon will invest about $228 million in the equipment and facility, which according to the news release, would be the “world’s largest vertically integrated indoor aquaculture facility.”

While aquaculture is lauded as more sustainable by comparison to the practice of overfishing, for example, there are some doubts about the ethics of it. To name a few, wild fish are often caught to feed farmed fish, questioning the efficacy of the system. Additionally, fish waste in densely populated open ocean farms can deplete oxygen in the surrounding marine environment. That’s not to mention genetic engineering, the living conditions of farmed fish, or other considerations. 

For investors interested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index can help. The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index is the world’s only comprehensive assessment of the largest animal protein producers on critical ESG issues.

The market demand for fish isn’t expected to slow down. And as such, aquaculture is expected to grow as a crucial industry that helps to feed the world’s population. According to the FAO, “to ensure a food secure future for all, the fisheries and aquaculture sector is key.” This means that there is ample opportunity for investors as the fish farming market continues to grow and develop.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the December 21, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Green Initiatives (ESG)

The sky over the Bay Area is covered with a smoke so thick that it is blocking the sun, leaving it orange and ominous. The image (even in a news article) is a wince-worthy reminder that we are in the year 2020, and the world is different.

With a record 900,000 acres of wildfires burning across Oregon, more than 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population have been evacuated, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s a lot of people, and evacuations aren’t anticipated to end there. In total, 12 western states are burning somewhere, with Oregon, California, and Washington most severely impacted. 

“There’s certainly been nothing in living memory on this scale,” describes Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California in an interview with the New York Times

Extreme weather is a new reality, and it matters a lot to the future of economies around the world. In January 2020, before the most recent fires, the Bank for International Settlements (an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks) predicted that the disruptive effects of climate change could usher in the next financial crisis. 

This report was not a one off. According to the January 2020 Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum, the top five global risks are climate-change related. Extreme weather, which includes floods, storms, wildfires and warmer temperatures, is putting millions at risk for food and water insecurity, property and infrastructure damage, and displacement. 

Now, it’s September and we are looking from near or far at the hazy orange sky above the Bay Area wondering: what’s next?

Where climate change was once a theory that people accepted or not in the same way that they preferred cream or not in their coffee, things are changing fast. This is especially true among millennials, who are making no mistake about where their money is being invested, namely into sustainability-oriented funds.

In what might be considered a ray of hope in a strange world, their environmental investment dollars are starting to add up and smash investing records. 

Here’s what environmental investing is and why it has more momentum than ever before. 

What Is Green Investing?

In 2019, “estimated net flows into open-end and exchange-traded sustainable funds that are available to U.S. investors totaled $20.6 billion for the year,” according to Morningstar. “That’s nearly 4 times the previous annual record for net flows set in 2018.” This near exponential growth in investor interest is in part attributed to younger investors with a specific interest in the environment. 

Perhaps even more impressive, in the first quarter of 2020, sustainable investing totaled $10.5 billion, keeping momentum despite the economic downturn ushered in by the pandemic. 

So, where exactly are these dollars going?

It depends. When it comes to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments can look much differently from one to the next. 

For one, some investors have a specific interest in “climate change innovators.” According to MSCI, these are companies working to innovate and scale new technologies in a way that solves climate problems in new ways. Beyond investing in the next big technology that might lead us to a net-zero carbon world, investors are looking more and more at the environmental policies of the companies that they invest with across the board. These policies include water management strategies that use water responsibly and the prioritization of protecting biodiversity in corporate operations.  

The relevance of biodiversity to our day-to-day lives is as close as the latest summer “Save the Bees” campaign. Honeybees are crucial for pollinating much of the global food supply, from apples to almonds. It’s estimated that bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food eaten in the United States. In addition to the use of insecticides used for many commercial crops, the destruction of habitat and decline in biodiversity have severely impacted this important species.  

In other words, in today’s world, how businesses do business matters greatly, not only to the environment at large, but also to the long-term value of a company. To address that, companies are putting more effort than ever into describing how they meet sustainability standards in their business operations. 

Why Invest in Sustainability? 

In a letter to CEOs, Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink describes climate change as “a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects.” According to Fink, “awareness [of climate change] is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” 

Fink anticipates a “significant capital reallocation” into sustainable strategies as millennials, who are currently pushing for institutions to develop sustainable strategies and who will eventually become the policy makers and CEOs of the world. 

In other words, environmentally focused investing is the future. 

Not only is it becoming more popular among millennials, it is paying off for investors. According MSCI, “There is a direct, dollar-value payoff for companies to better manage their ESG risks or meet stated sustainability commitments.” 

Interestingly, since the arrival of COVID-19, awareness to and demand for ESG products is on the rise. Not only did the pandemic accelerate interest in these products, it gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their resilience, with ESG investments less impacted by the pandemic-driven market drop in the spring. 

If you are ready for a certain investment in an uncertain world, environmental investing is a natural choice.

How to Invest in Green Initiatives

The environment, of course, impacts every one of us and touches every industry. Investing in such a broad theme can be challenging for investors. Fortunately, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds that can help investors access this growing and all-encompassing sector.

 

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The information and data are as of the September 14, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Real Estate

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The headlines highlighting the rise of housing markets are as common as the “SOLD” signs on lawns in neighborhoods throughout the United States. 

“Despite COVID-19, Philadelphia's real estate market is booming.”

“Pandemic pushing Cape Cod real estate sales, driving prices up.”

But, who moves in the middle of a pandemic? Apparently, lots of people. 

The world looks much different today than it did at the beginning of the year. Since the arrival of the coronavirus to the United States in January, people have adapted their lives and recalibrated their plans significantly. For many, that has included planning a move. 

So, for all of the lost jobs and unknowns about how the economy will recover, the real estate industry is holding its own. Here’s what investors should know. 

What’s Happening with Real Estate?

NYC real estate sales fell by 54 percent in the second quarter of 2020, amounting to the largest decline in 30 years, according to a report by Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. Orange County, California reported its biggest price decline since 2009, 5.2 percent. In other words, more and more people are saying goodbye to city living. 

But, things in the suburbs are booming. After an initial dip in April, May showed strong market interest, according to realtor.com.With all of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, what is it that has moved people to start considering a move? 

“Quarantine was the greatest accidental PR campaign for the value of real estate that I’ve ever witnessed. Now, people have been inspired to invest more into their homes and push their budgets just a little bit further,” according to Forbes real estate writer Ryan Serhant. 

No doubt, after just a few months, people have new housing needs. Remote work is looking like the new norm. Outdoor space feels less optional. And suddenly many families with kids need to find space to not only work remotely, but also facilitate virtual learning for their kids. Welcome to 2020.

“Housing is a basic need, and the decision to buy one is usually prompted by entering a new stage of life,” according to housing website Curbed

Add strong interest and new needs to attractively low rates, and the sales started. The average for 30-year fixed mortgages fell below 3 percent for the first time on record in June, prompting more people to consider buying. And so, the headlines and the “SOLD” signs followed.

So, If Everyone Is Working at Home, What’s Happening to Office Space?

For corporations, office space can account for the second largest expense following payroll. Companies know that. Moreover, these same companies realize that their offices are currently sitting largely unoccupied. 

Companies are anticipated to reduce office space over the next three years, according to a report by CNBC. Similarly, a Reuters analysis of 25 large companies indicates that they plan to reduce office space over the next year.  

According to a May report by Moody's Analytics, “As employers have been compelled to execute remote working policies, national vacancies may break the 20% mark by 2021, and effective rents in some markets like New York may fall by close to 25%.”

But, not every business is turning in their notice just yet. Most office leases run from three to five to seven or 10 years, so some businesses are just stuck with the space. 

That’s good news for investors, who aren’t feeling the pain. 

According to Reuters, “concerns about declining office space use have not hurt commercial mortgaged-backed securities, with the iShares CMBS ETF up 4.4% for the year to date.”

Why the continued success? 

Offices are useful for everything from building work relationships to expressing organizational values and aspirations, according to the Harvard Business Review. Companies, especially those with a nearly all-remote workforce at the minute, know that better than anyone. And so, commercial offices are probably not going away in their entirety. They will, however, emerge on the other side of the pandemic and are likely to look much different. 

For one, office spaces might simultaneously scale down and become more dispersed, with flexibility to locate near clients and foster high-quality connections between staff, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Moreover, space will increasingly become mixed-use, extending its hours of life beyond the 9-5. This means offices that have retail, dining, and other features that invite community members, keeping the space busy beyond the workday hustle. 

But, don’t expect a boom of new office space in the near future. 

The Detroit Free Press reported in June about ongoing office space construction that might be at risk. In addition to the unknowns about the need for new, Class A spaces in the short term, the supply chains that delivers building materials have been impacted by the virus. 

Part of the question is: will businesses decide to keep more remote work arrangements permanently, relocate their offices to less-expensive suburbs, or will they keep with the status quo?

Still, Real Estate Investment Is on the Uptick. 

Despite all of the uncertainty, according to a Gallup poll, real estate remains a top investment choice for Americans. As the stock market looks more uncertain, real estate looks safer. Not to mention the historically low interest rates that have helped families move into new homes. 

Roofstock, a platform for investors to buy and sell single-family rental properties, has experienced substantially increased web traffic since the coronavirus arrived, indicating that global investors are on the lookout for less volatile investment options.

The bottom line: real estate sales and investment is on the rise. The informed investor can find ways to invest in both residential and commercial real estate in unique ways.

 

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the September 3, 2020  (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access.Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Electric Vehicles

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What was once (not too long ago) a niche sideshow in the automotive market is poised to take over the whole thing, with electric vehicles anticipated to dominate car sales by 2040, according to BloombergNEF’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2020.

But is the mass adoption of electric vehicles really as far off as 2030, when some projections anticipate that battery-powered cars will start to outsell conventional combustion engines? Or, is the electric vehicle revolution already here?

Right now, the prices of electric vehicle stocks are jumping. Tesla, which is expected to announce new battery technology in September, jumped 13% in one morning in June to an all time high of $1,746.69.  Now, it’s as high as $1,835.64 and looking at the next milestone of $1,900. 

Workhorse, a maker of electric vans, also jumped after it cleared the next hurdle to participation in California’s zero-emission subsidy program. These, in addition to a jump for the Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO, the Chinese electric scooter maker Niu, show the enthusiasm for the EV market. 

And there should be. Here’s why. 

What Are Electric Vehicles? 

All-electric vehicles (EVs) are cars and trucks  equipped with an electric motor rather than a traditional internal combustion engine. The electric motor is powered by a large traction battery pack which requires a charging station or wall outlet to charge. 

Because EVs are powered by electricity, they don’t have the tailpipe that emits exhaust as is typical of internal combustion engines. EVs also do not require liquid fuel components, including a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank. Hybrid vehicles, however, still do have these components, as they typically switch over to an internal combustion engine when the electric battery becomes depleted. 

Why Invest in Electric Vehicles? 

Simply put, electricity is the future of transportation.

EVs have the potential to help slash carbon emissions and lower costs for drivers, which is why public utilities such as Xcel Energy are pushing to get 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2030.

When investing in EVs, it’s more than a matter of purchasing pricey Tesla stock or not. Lots of companies stand to benefit from the adoption of electric vehicles, from battery manufacturers to companies thinking creatively about how to charge electric vehicles. 

These companies are trying to solve the biggest challenges for electric vehicles that have been stumbling blocks to their mass adoption. Namely, the production of batteries that hold a greater charging capacity for a longer period and the accessibility of charging opportunities. 

For example, a new type of battery—solid-state electrolyte— is scheduled to enter the commercial market in 2023. Solid-state batteries are generating major excitement for electric vehicle makers. The solid version of the battery can hold three times more energy than its traditionally liquid counterpart, not to mention it can hold that energy more efficiently and ultimately last longer. Battery prices are expected to fall as their energy density improves, making electric vehicles increasingly more affordable. 

EVs continue to become more mainstream as they become more affordable and charging equipment becomes more widely available.  Blink Charging, for example, designs, manufactures, and operates an electronic vehicle charging network that is managed by cloud software. According to the company, its EV charging equipment sales increased by more than 350% and its revenues for just the first six months of 2020 surpassed its total revenues for all of 2019. 

But, there’s more to all-electric vehicles than batteries and charging stations. 

Specifically, the list of key components in electric cars is long. In addition to the usual wheels and tires, you also need:

  • A charging port
  • A DC/DC converter
  • An electric traction motor to drives the wheels
  • An onboard charger that accepts energy from the charge port and converts it to charge the battery
  • A power electronics controller to “manage the flow of electrical energy delivered by the traction battery”
  • A thermal system to maintain an appropriate temperature range
  • A traction battery pack to store electricity for the motor
  • An electric transmission 
  • And more…

In other words, a shift from conventional combustion engines to all-electric means a shift to makers of these parts for suppliers. 

For example, Aptiv develops safety systems for electric vehicles. Safety systems are crucial considering the high voltage that powers electric vehicles and the “more than 8,000 connection points in a typical electric vehicle.”

Delphi offers automakers powertrain, electrical and battery management solutions for components including inverters, high-power electrical centers, high-voltage connection systems, combined inverter DC/DC converters (CIDD), high-voltage shielded cables, on-board and plug-in chargers and charging inlets.

Magna offers complete vehicle manufacturing, producing vehicles for BMW, Daimler, Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota. Magna was selected by the Beijing Automotive Group Co., Ltd. (“BAIC Group”) in 2019 to “produce up to 180,000 electric vehicles per year in China…starting in late 2020.”

Amphenol develops and supplies advanced interconnect systems, sensors, and antennas for hybrid and electric vehicles. 

These and other companies are poised for growth and are ripe for investment. 

How to Invest in Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles will outnumber traditional fuel-powered cars before we know it. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve, before affordable, little known stocks rise to the heights of Tesla. A search on Magnifi indicates that there are a number of ways for investors to access this fast-growing segment via ETFs and mutual funds, rather than focusing only on individual companies.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the August 25, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. 

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Forestry

One of the more interesting quotes often attributed to famed investor Warren Buffett concerns planning for the future: “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” 

Forests take decades to grow and mature and only moments to destroy. Properly managing a forest involves meeting the economic necessities of the present while laying the groundwork for ecological health and economic potential into the future. Forests provide countless, critical ecosystem services, including storing and purifying water, stabilizing soil and preventing erosion, capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and fostering biodiversity. 

Forests also provide significant economic benefits, including timber for construction, wood pulp for paper, and firewood for heating and cooking. 

Historically, the ecosystem services and economic benefits of forests have often been in conflict with each other, with people often placing short-term economic benefits above long-term ecosystem health, ultimately at the cost of both. 

For a recent example of this conflict, look no further than the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires. In an attempt to clear land for cattle grazing, ranch owners across the shrinking Amazon rainforest lit fires that quickly spread out of control, burning an estimated 2.3 million acres of forest and darkening the midday sky of cities hundreds of miles away. 

Forests must be carefully managed in order to provide mankind with crucial economic benefits while also performing essential ecological functions. Millions of acres of burned rainforest may provide ranchers with a temporary economic boom in terms of a larger grazing area, but the long-term effects of haphazardly clearing forests result in dire ecological and economic costs.  

Professionals in the forestry industry work to achieve a sustainable balance between the environmental and economic demands placed on forests. Though the management of forests is a very old profession indeed, the forestry industry is currently in the midst of a rapid modernization as business and environmental interests implement technological innovations that increase profitability and improve ecological health. 

This modernization is especially significant because of the role forests play in fighting climate change. Forestry professionals are looking to innovation to help them do more with less, and the growing urgency to address climate change will likely mean that innovation will be highly valued.

For those interested in the investment potential of this important industry, there are a few key points to understand.

What is forestry?

The North Carolina Forestry Association defines forestry as “The art and science of managing forests to produce various products and benefits including timber, wildlife habitat, clean water, biodiversity and recreation.” 

As an industry, forestry is vast, encompassing a multitude of business operations concerned with harvesting, transporting, refining, and distributing forest products. Deeper still is the underlying machinery and technology that make modern forestry possible. 100+ years ago, harvesting timber often involved men felling trees with axes or saws and transporting the timber to a sawmill via mule train. These days, timber is often harvested using cutting-edge technology, such as the cut-to-length (CTL) harvesting method. With CTL harvesting, specialized equipment cuts, cleans, and loads logs for transport in a matter of seconds, all while operators are safely inside the machine cabs and away from falling branches and dangerous terrain.

There is a growing movement in the forestry industry towards what is referred to as “precision forestry.” Precision forestry is an approach to managing forests that utilizes advanced technology to unlock greater economic and environmental value through improved information gathering and operational control. 

For instance, lidar is a cutting-edge surveying technology that uses lasers to generate extremely detailed maps. After mapping a forested area using lidar, forestry professionals are able to accurately estimate the quantity of standing timber, as well as where the access road should be built and which machinery should be brought in to do the job. Better information through technologies like lidar means that forest managers are able to make decisions that improve cost-efficiency and minimize environmental damage. 

When combined with other cutting-edge technologies, such as drones, soil sensors, and IoT-integrated devices throughout the harvesting and reforesting process, precision forestry is set to unlock significant value across the forestry industry.

Why invest in forestry?

While the accelerated adoption of advanced technologies is likely to improve cost-efficiency and drive innovation across the forestry industry in the coming years, current trends indicate that the industry faces tough headwinds. The demand for construction lumber, which surged in the years following the Great Recession, is waning, and domestic producers are facing increased competition from foreign lumber firms. 

In the U.S., industry performance is highly correlated with the strength of the housing market: a robust housing market usually means more new homes and an increased demand for wood products. 

For instance, Weyerhaeuser (the largest forest product company in the U.S.) experienced a sharp stock price drop as a result of the Great Recession and the collapsing housing market, from a high of $86 per share in early 2007 to a low of $15 per share in mid-2010.

U.S. revenues from forest products in 2019 totaled about $128 billion, and revenues from exports of forest products in 2019 totaled about $16 billion. Paper mills, which currently comprise the single largest segment of the U.S. forestry market, are forecast to see revenue decrease by -2.6% annually over the next five years. Sawmills and wood production, the second-largest segment, are forecast to see revenue increase by 1.1% annually over the next five years. 

The segment with the fastest projected growth is prefabricated home manufacturing (think mobile or modular homes), which is forecast to see revenue increase by only 2.2% annually over the next five years – a sharp decline from the 8.6% annual growth the segment saw during the previous five years.

Successfully investing in forestry involves understanding the underlying market forces driving industry performance and trends, while assessing the value of a mid or long-term stake in the industry relative to other, higher-performing industries.

How to invest in forestry

However, forestry is a legacy industry that is dominated by a few major players. That means investors have few choices when investing directly, and that fact puts them at risk in the case of an industry-wide downturn. Investing in forestry via related ETFs and mutual funds, though, allows investors to access the space without tying them to any one company. A search on Magnifi suggests there are a number of ways to gain access to this segment via these funds.

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The information and data are as of the April 12, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


climate change

Climate Change

Once a year, the CEO and Chairman of BlockRock, Larry Fink, sends a letter to the CEOs of the world’s largest and most influential companies. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets, so the annual letter always attracts a great deal of attention.

In the letter, sent on January 14, 2020, Mr. Fink argued that climate change is driving a “fundamental reshaping of finance,” and that “In the discussions BlackRock has with clients around the world, more and more of them are looking to reallocate their capital into sustainable strategies. If ten percent of global investors do so – or even five percent – we will witness massive capital shifts. And this dynamic will accelerate as the next generation takes the helm of government and business.” 

For BlackRock to announce that it is placing sustainability at the center of its investment approach, and to argue that investors and businesses would be wise to follow suit, it is nothing less than a seismic shift with enormous potential implications. This isn’t some small company announcing that it’s placing a renewed focus on sustainability; BlackRock is a financial colossus, and when they say that they are rethinking their investment strategies because of climate change, investors around the world should sit up and pay attention.

[The world needs to double food production by 2050. Here’s how investing in Precision Agriculture can make that happen.]

It should go without saying at this point that climate change poses a singular threat to mankind and the Earth’s biodiversity. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report, which annually identifies the most pressing global challenges, ranked “climate action failure” as the top global risk in terms of overall impact, and, for the first time in the report’s existence, the top five risks in terms of likelihood are all climate-related. 

There is growing public pressure on governments and businesses to do more to address the threats, and an increasing number of Americans rank it as a top policy priority for the Federal Government.

Climate change is a problem that is so large and complex that it simply cannot be tackled by one group acting alone; as such, governments and businesses need to work together on the transition to renewable energy. As the BlackRock letter makes perfectly clear, the private sector can no longer afford to ignore climate change. 

There are promising signs that this message is finally sinking in, as evidenced by recent announcements from several powerful companies detailing bold new climate action plans. Amazon, for instance, recently launched a new initiative called The Climate Pledge, which promises that the company will transition completely to renewable energy by 2030, order 100,000 electric delivery trucks, and invest $100 million in reforestation projects around the world. 

In addition to this initiative, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently announced that he was committing $10 billion of his own money combat climate change. 

Not to be outdone, Microsoft made headlines recently with its own bold pledge, announcing that it would work to become carbon negative by 2050, in that it would “remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.” Microsoft simultaneously announced that it was investing $1 billion in a “Climate Innovation Fund.”

These recent announcements, coupled with the ground-shaking BlackRock letter, make it clear that the risks posed by climate change are beginning to disrupt traditional investment practices. For the savvy investor who understands the magnitude of the changes that are beginning to occur, there is tremendous opportunity in combating climate change.

For those interested in the investment potential of this critical issue, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Climate Change?

The United Nations explains the problem of climate change thus: “Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years.”

As greenhouse gasses concentrate in the atmosphere, more of the sun’s heat is prevented from radiating out into space, which slowly drives global temperatures up and creates a whole host of serious problems. According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, “the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and over twice that rate (+0.18°C / +0.32°F) since 1981.” 2019, the year that saw the devastating Australian wildfires and destructive Atlantic hurricanes, was the second-hottest year on record since record keeping began in 1880.

Efforts to bring together a solid, international coalition committed to tackling climate change have proved difficult thus far, with meetings such as the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit concluding without making much in the way of significant progress. 

However, millions of young people in cities around the globe walked out of school on Friday, September 20, 2019, to express their anger at climate inaction and demand substantive, swift change. These young people are energized, politically active, and highly motivated – they represent the groundswell that will richly reward those who turn away from fossil fuels and toward innovative, renewables. 

Why Invest in Climate Change?

Technological innovation is key to fighting climate change. 

No matter how much we legislate, protest, and conserve, we need technology to help get us out of this mess. Thankfully, humans are nothing if not resourceful, and our desire to keep the planet safe and healthy for future generations means that the market for innovative, clean technology is going to continue to expand. 

One challenge currently facing startups focusing on climate change is a lack of venture capital (VC) interest. For VCs, why put your money in a risky startup with moderate short-term returns when a software startup’s short-term return could be enormous? The answer to this question is rather simple: because the world is in trouble and the power of the almighty dollar can help. 

Matt Rogers, co-founder of Incite Ventures, a fund that supports mission-driven enterprises, puts it another way: “Sitting on your pile of money while the oceans are rising may not help you stay dry.” 

How to Invest in Climate Change

However, supporting a topic as broad and all-encompassing as climate change isn’t as simple as buying a few stocks. The issue crosses industry lines, investment segments and even international borders. That’s why it can be more impactful to invest in fund that are involved in a number of different businesses working on solutions related to climate change.

A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of different ETFs and mutual funds available to investors who want to get involved in climate change technology without having to invest in dozens of different companies directly.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the March 6, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Organic agriculture

Organic Agriculture

 

The next time you are out on a walk and notice a humble honey bee buzzing from flower to flower, take a moment to stop and appreciate the importance of the busy little insect. Because its work is at the heart of all organic agriculture.

According to the FDA, “About one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds, to name just a few.” Pollination is essential to agriculture; without it, many plants cannot produce seeds and fruit, and our dinner plates would look very sparse indeed. 

Unfortunately, honey bees are in trouble.

[The world needs to double food production by 2050. Here’s how investing in Precision Agriculture can make that happen.]

Beekeepers in the U.S. have been sounding the alarm for years, reporting sharp declines in honey bee colonies for over a decade, and the winter of 2018/2019 saw the biggest decline on record. This sharp decline in honey bee colonies is thought to be caused by several factors, including shrinking crop diversity, habitat loss, insecticides, and parasites. In particular, a widely used group of insecticides called neonicotinoids are coming under increased scrutiny as mounting research demonstrates the toxicity of the chemicals to honey bee populations. 

Farmers apply neonicotinoids to their fields in an effort to prevent pests such as aphids, but end up unintentionally damaging honey bee colonies, which in turn damages crop yields and the surrounding ecosystem as a whole.

Declining honey bee populations in the U.S. are symptomatic of an ongoing conflict in modern agriculture that pits short term profitability against long term sustainability. Spraying a field with herbicides may kill weeds one year, but the weeds that sprout the following year will be herbicide-resistant, and the farmer will have to invest in new and increasingly complex chemical concoctions to stay on top of the evolving weeds. 

In response to the industrialization of modern agriculture, a thriving movement has emerged that emphasizes quality over quantity. Organic agriculture is a process of producing food that focuses on environmental sustainability. The Rodale Institute, a leading organic agriculture nonprofit, considers organic agriculture to be a “vision for working and living in harmony with nature. The result is healthy soil, which grows healthy plants, which make for healthy people. By abstaining from synthetic inputs and encouraging natural systems, organic farmers help create a better future for people, animals, and the environment.”

For those interested in the investment potential of this growing market, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Organic Agriculture?

In the context of the U.S., “organic” is a labeling term that food producers affix to products to indicate that their products comply with the organic standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA’s organic standards are lengthy and cover many agricultural processes, including crop production, livestock/poultry production, and product handling/labeling. (Learn More: Why logistics matter in agriculture.)

Before a food producer can apply an organic label to their product, USDA inspectors must first certify that the producer is in compliance with the relevant organic standards. In general, the USDA’s organic standards require that food producers use natural processes to produce food. 

With crop production, for instance, one of the organic standards is that the land cannot have had synthetic synthetic fertilizers or weed killers applied to it for at least three years before harvesting an organic crop. The organic standards also mandate that organic livestock and poultry have access to the outdoors year-round, and may only be temporarily confined due to poor weather or concerns over the animal’s health.

Making the transition to organic or going organic from the get-go can be a difficult, expensive endeavor for food producers. It is undeniably cheaper to produce food using synthetic chemicals and industrial processes. 

Environmental benefits aside (which are substantial, if difficult to value monetarily), going organic offers food producers access to a rapidly growing market. Young adults are increasingly focused on food quality when they shop, with a recent YouGov study noting that 68% of millennials surveyed responded that they are willing to pay more for higher quality products. 

For a young consumer with health and environmental concerns on their mind, the choice between an organic tomato costing $2.25 and a non-organic tomato costing $1.50 may not be as obvious as one would assume. In this space, there is significant opportunity.

Why Invest in Organics?

Consumer demand for organic food is booming in the U.S., but domestic supply has not kept pace. The development of precision agriculture has helped, but the shortcoming largely boils down to the fact that producing organic food is more difficult and expensive than producing food via conventional agriculture. 

In an effort to facilitate the transition to organic from conventional while satisfying their customers’ growing demand for organic food, large food companies are increasingly partnering with small producers. Established brands like Annie’s (owned by General Mills) are partnering directly with domestic farmers, eliminating many of the hurdles new organic producers face in bringing their products to market. 

With a consumer base willing to pay more for products they value, and with the support of established companies that recognize organic’s potential, the organic agriculture market is primed for substantial growth and expansion in the coming years.

According to research from the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic products in the U.S. reached $52.5 billion in 2018, up 6.3% from 2017. Sales of organic foods accounted for $47.9 billion in 2018, an increase of 5.9% over 2017 food sales. This increase in organic food sales far exceeded the 2.3% growth seen in non-organic food sales during the same period. 

Figures from 2019 look equally healthy, with Category Partners and Organic Produce Network reporting that sales of organic fruits and vegetables increased by 5.1% between 2018 and 2019, while sales of conventional fruits and vegetables increased by about 1.9%.

These trends demonstrate that consumer interest in organic products is strong. Young consumers are more concerned about their health and the health of the environment than any preceding generation, and these consumers are on the cusp of becoming the most dominant group with respect to consumer spending. 

Organic agriculture represents a unique opportunity in the investment landscape because it offers the potential to serve an undersupplied but growing market with products that are increasingly seen as ethically and environmentally superior to similar products available at lower prices.

How to Invest in Organics

But, for investors, organic agriculture as a category is almost too broad. It’s a trend that impacts almost every aspect of the food and ag industry, but it’s something that very few companies are dedicated entirely to. Every company in the space has an organics program, making it very difficult for investors to get in on this trend directly without investing in a very broad group of companies.

However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the organics market can be a good way for investors to access this growing segment of agriculture without having to invest in many companies directly. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in organic agriculture.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


solar energy

Solar Energy

As the 2010s drew to a close, a report published by the World Meteorological Association (WMO) issued the following stark assessment of the current global climate situation: “The year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities. Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record. 2019 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record.” 

The report outlines the increasingly frightening consequences of global climate change, including warming ocean temperatures, deepening droughts, and sweltering heatwaves. 

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas summed up the gravity of the situation: “If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being.”

Urgent climate action involves moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. This transition has been underway for years, and though there are positive signs that things are perhaps beginning to move in the right direction (global carbon emissions are growing at a slower pace, for instance), it has not been enough to adequately address the overall increase in global energy demand. 

According to the Executive Summary of the UN’s recently published Emissions Gap Report 2019, “The summary findings are bleak. Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global GHG emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.” 

In order to achieve these critical emission cuts, renewable energy will need to replace fossil fuels as humanity’s primary energy source in the coming decade. One sector that has already made remarkable progress on this front, and that is poised for even greater progress in the coming decade, is that of solar energy. 

Solar energy has become a serious global energy contender over the past decade as solar technology has become more efficient and affordable. According to the UN, global solar capacity increased from 25 gigawatts in 2009 to 663 gigawatts in 2019. This increase in installed capacity was greater than any other generation technology, fossil fuel or otherwise, yet solar energy still has tremendous room for growth. 

In the U.S., for instance, solar energy accounted for only 1.6% of the total electricity budget in 2018, and all renewable energy sources combined accounted for 17% of the total. As policymakers and the public come to terms with the fact that rapid and dramatic cuts to carbon emissions need to be made to lessen the blow of climate change’s fury, the solar energy sector is extremely well-positioned to play a critical role in meeting the energy demand as renewable energy replaces fossil fuels.

For those interested in the investment potential of this rapidly-growing sector, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy that is generated from the sun and converted into thermal or electrical energy

There are three primary ways to generate solar energy: photovoltaics, solar thermal, and concentrated solar power. 

  • Photovoltaics directly convert sunlight into electricity by harnessing the electrical current produced when semiconducting materials are exposed to sunlight. Solar panels on the roof of a home or in an array on a satellite are examples of photovoltaics. 
  • Solar thermal technology works by absorbing heat from sunlight and using it to warm air, water, or other materials. A roof-mounted solar water heater is an example of solar thermal technology. 
  • Concentrated solar power works by using mirrors spread over a large area to concentrate the sun’s rays to one small point in which water is heated to steam to drive a turbine. If you fly from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and look out your window as you head southwest, you will likely spot the intense glow of the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in the desert below you. The facility is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and according to the facility’s owner, BrightSource Energy, “the electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day.”

Why Invest in Solar Energy?

The most compelling reason to invest in the solar energy sector comes down to the simple fact that renewable energy is actively replacing fossil fuels as the dominant global energy source. This replacement is likely to accelerate as energy demand increases and as the public demands a faster transition and a more significant commitment to clean energy. 

Solar is well-positioned to capitalize on the rapidly-changing energy landscape because the sector has undergone incredible innovation in recent years. 

One recent breakthrough in material science, for instance, boosted the maximum efficiency of a photovoltaic solar cell from 29% to 35%

Another breakthrough is the development of perovskite, a synthetically manufactured material that is more efficient and cheaper to produce than the silicon in traditional solar cells. Another key reason solar energy is well-positioned for the coming changes in the energy market is cost-competitiveness. 

According to a November 2019 piece in Bloomberg: “The levelized cost of any particular energy technology is the break-even price that companies investing in that technology need in order to see a competitive rate of return. In the case of both utility-scale solar and onshore wind power, this rate has dropped to about $40 per megawatt hour — which is lower than the cost of building new power plants that burn natural gas or coal. It’s even close to being competitive with the marginal costs of running the coal and nuclear plants we already have.”

According to market analysis by the International Energy Agency, global renewable energy capacity is expected to grow by 50% between 2019 and 2024, with solar photovoltaics accounting for almost 60% of the total expected growth. Private and public investments in solar energy are rapidly increasing, and the sector’s cost-competitiveness, combined with increased efficiency and the urgency of combating climate change, make solar energy a smart investment for the future.

How to Invest in Solar Energy

Given the volatility of the energy sector, however, investing directly in solar energy-related companies can be risky. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of different ways for investors to get involved in solar without opening up their portfolios to undo concentrated risk in this new and growing sector.

 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the Dec 12, 2019 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]  

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the May 28, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Water

How Water Became an Investment Opportunity

In July 2010, the United Nations declared that access to safe and affordable water is a basic human right. Since that declaration, the world has made improvements towards broader access, but there is still a very long way to go.

According to a June 2019 study by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, roughly one-third of the global population does not have access to safe drinking water today. Access to safe drinking water means “drinking water from sources located on-premises, free from contamination and available when needed.” More troubling still, the study also found that roughly 785 million people worldwide lack basic water services entirely, and some 144 million are reliant on untreated surface water.

The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report, which annually identifies the most pressing global challenges, placed water crises among the top four risks, just behind extreme weather events, failing to prepare for climate change, and weapons of mass destruction. As the effects of climate change spread and become more pronounced, problems surrounding access to clean water are only expected to increase. According to the World Health Organization, roughly half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025.

So, what are we to do with this troubling information? Throw up our hands and wait for someone else to sort it out? Innovators across the globe think not. They are looking to the future, and to technology, to develop the systems that will provide access to clean water across the globe. As they work to address one of the most pressing problems of our time, they will need capital, and lots of it.  For those interested in investing in this rapidly-growing sector, however, there are a few important points to understand.

The Trouble with Water Access

At the heart of the global water crisis is the fact that water is too scarce in some places, too abundant in others, and the water that we do have access to is often expensive to treat. It is often not feasible to move large amounts of water great distances, and techniques for capturing and cleaning water in one place will not necessarily work in another.  As such, innovators are coming up with local solutions to this global problem.

Water is often in short supply in the arid Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and climate change is driving the region into deeper and more persistent drought. After learning about fog harvesting used in other parts of the world, a Moroccan nonprofit teamed up with a German company, Aqualonis, to design and install a massive array of nets high in the mountains to harvest fog rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. The project doubled the amount of water available to people in surrounding communities. Following the success of the Moroccan project, Aqualonis is planning several other fog catching projects across the globe.

Another striking innovation comes from Cody Friesen, founder of Zero Mass Water. He discovered a way to “pull” water from the air using solar panels, even in places where the air is quite dry. The panels have been installed in 33 countries across the globe, and they are providing clean drinking water to communities, refugee camps, and businesses. Zero Mass Water is now backed by a $1 billion fund led by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

The Market Opportunity in Water

According to investment firm RobecoSAM, “Market opportunities related to the water sector are expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2025. Companies that are early to respond and take steps to exploit the market opportunities associated with these water-related challenges are more likely to gain a competitive advantage and achieve commercial success.”

The global water crisis is not going away on its own, and climate change is only going to make the situation more dire in coming years. Investing in companies addressing the global water crisis makes financial sense because there is a growing demand for an increasingly finite resource.

The case can also be made that investing in water innovation is also a socially responsible investment. We are going to need many more innovations in the coming years to fully tackle the global water crisis, and investing now in companies already at the forefront of the fight will encourage further innovation.

How to Invest in the Future of Water

You cannot invest in water itself, of course, but you can invest in companies creating solutions to the global water crisis. For instance, the AllianzGI Global Water Fund specializes in “investing in companies offering solutions to help solve the global water challenge.”  This fund returned an annual average of 9.83 percent over the past 10 years, compared with 5.37 percent for its average Morningstar peer.  A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from water innovation as a whole.

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This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the  November 6, 2019 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change.

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