In the last issue of Fast-Track Millionaire, my readers and I learned a few basics about nanotechnology -- the manipulation of matter on a molecular scale -- an application that I think is going to yield some impressive, knock-the-cover-off-the-ball gains in the next decade.
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One of the areas that likely will lead this charge -- if you'll excuse the pun -- is batteries. Small ones that can last a long time and provide the juice your device, be it an iPad or a pacemaker, needs to do its job. This is a MASSIVE market that's just getting bigger and busier -- everything that's connected needs power, and everything is, indeed, being connected these days.
The reason is solar power.
The Necessity Of Solar Power
When I took my wife Jen on our honeymoon -- to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska (romantic, aren't I?) -- Charlie Munger, Buffett's alter ego and No. 2, went on and on and on about the necessity of solar power.
Now, normally some old guy talking about harnessing the power of the sun would only be vaguely interesting, but Berkshire is in the power business in a big way and they also understand, perhaps better than anyone else, how solar can provide a return on investment over the long term. That's when, and why, I became interested in solar technology.
The fact is, solar technology is very good these days. The panels get better all the time -- nanotech is a part of that -- but there's a catch. The sun, as you know, goes down. So solar can do a lot to help in power-hungry -- and sunny -- areas like California, but only until dusk. At that point, the natural gas-powered turbines kick in to run our air conditioners, washing machines and Amazon Echos. (If you don't have one yet, just order one. Trust me on this.)
The solution to this problem -- that is, night -- is to build huge batteries, something that so far has been a real challenge. Right now, Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) has the world's largest battery, a 100-megawatt beauty in Australia, about the size of a U.S. football field. That makes for a lot o' juice. Enough, in fact, to power 30,000 homes.
But new paperwork filed with the U.S. federal government suggests that a larger power cell -- a massive battery three-and-a-half times larger than what Tesla created -- is in the works.
A company called Recurrent Energy has sought Uncle Sam's permission to build a 350-megawatt battery east of Palm Springs, Calif., on 2,400 acres of public land. The idea is simple: Run solar panels during the day and generate power to charge the battery, then draw on it through the night until the sun comes up. This has the potential to obviate the need for the natural gas-powered electric turbines, a feat that will be critical to achieving sustainability in electricity markets like California.
Recurrent Energy has already done four huge solar installs in Riverside County, where it is seeking permission for the new project, which includes another big solar farm. So it has some real credibility here, even though 1) it doesn't yet have a customer lined up for the power it seeks to collect and 2) it could take a while for the feds to give them the green light.
But this is still something that we need to be keeping a close eye on, not only because I think these changes are inevitable but because this is an opportunity we can invest in.
Solar's Perfect Small-Cap
Recurrent's parent company -- Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) -- is publicly traded. Even better, it's the right size ($925.7 million in market cap) for Fast-Track Millionaire readers to consider making an investment.
In the coming months, I'll be completing my in-depth research into solar-energy policy in major markets like the United States and China, its leading companies and the state of the technology. I'll be taking a close look at Canadian Solar. I sure like what I've seen so far. And who knows how far this technology could go? Recurrent could not only beat Tesla the company, it could also take another step within our lifetimes and figure out how to achieve Nikolai Tesla's dream -- to build batteries that could also collect energy from lightning.
Well, I guess I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself, but sometimes I just can't help it. Isn't this stuff fascinating?
Stay tuned. We'll be talking about this in future issues of Fast-Track Millionaire. I love finding out how to make money off such interesting innovations.
Editor's Note: Andy's been on nothing short of a roll since launching his Fast-Track Millionaire service a couple months ago, discussing and making picks across a wide variety of cutting-edge fields. And while picks of this nature sometimes take a while to live up to their 1,000% gain potential, his early results look very promising.
Be sure to stay tuned for what he has in store next, because if you're not paying attention, the world as you know it might change -- and you'll have missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity.