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Tickers in this Article: SOL, WFR, GE, PIO, PHO
In honor of Earth Day we are going to look at green investments that are not only potentially very profitable for investors, but also will benefit the global environment. Solar power and water desalination hold the potential to be valuable business operations in the years to come, so let's have a look at a pair of industry leaders. (To read about other green areas to invest in, check out our Green Investing Feature and Top 10 Green Industries.)

Solar Demand Heating Up
Oil hit new record highs on Monday. As oil climbs more and more people are looking at alternative energy, this brings the focus to companies like ReneSola (NYSE:SOL), which surged on Monday, too, jumping almost 14%, closing the day at just under $19 per share. ReneSola has been making money for investors since hitting its 52-week low of $7.36 back in March, with investors seeing sitting on about 150% worth of appreciation since that time.

The Chinese solar-wafer manufacturing giant increased its 2008 guidance on April 17th, after signing a hefty six-year supply agreement with Topray Solar, a Chinese manufacturer of solar cells and modules. This agreement comes close on the heels of similar six-year supply agreements made earlier in the week with Chinese-listed companies Ningbo Solar, and Eoplly.

ReneSola's new guidance calls for an increase in production to 310-320 MW from 300 MW, which is expected to draw in revenue of $530-550 million; up from the previous guidance of $480 million. The new guidance is indicative of the increase in demand that ReneSola and other solar energy producers are seeing, coupled with raw material costs that are much more stable when compared to commodity costs related to other forms of energy.

With China's booming economy, the need for energy is growing at an astronomical pace. China is also on the forefront of trying to adopt green technologies to prevent this increase in energy demand from destroying their environment; and solar power is one of these technologies. (T o learn more about innovations in energy and consumption, see Clean Or Green Technology Investing.)

ReneSola is one of the lowest-cost manufacturers in this industry due to long-term supply contracts and an impressive customer list. It posted quarterly revenue growth of 198% compared to the meager 27% posted by rival MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE:WFR)! I am looking for ReneSola to continue to impress as demand increases further.

GE Won't Water Down Your Portfolio
Scarcity of fresh water is something that is becoming an issue of concern these days, and with a steadily growing global population, this issue is not going to go away any time soon. The problem may be obvious, but the solution is likely to be complex and to come from many sources.

One of first places to look is veritable fresh-water pump General Electric (NYSE:GE). GE is already helping municipalities and businesses across the globe recycle almost 21 billion gallons of wastewater each year. The company's Water & Process Technologies division is on the forefront of a wide range of solutions in this area, ranging from creating potable water from seawater and brackish water, to low-cost and environmentally friendly recycling technologies.

The company has noted that the world's water consumption rate doubles every 20 years, outpacing the rate of population growth by two times. At this rate, demand is expected to outpace supply in 2025 by 56%! Water shortages and their solutions are going to be big news - and likely make for big profits - in years to come. I like GE as a company that already has its foot in the door, and with GE stock down almost 23% from its 52 week high, I like this current lowball price opportunity to get in.

Don't want to risk investing in a single stock, but still want exposure to water in your portfolio? Consider ETFs such as Powershares Global Water Portfolio (NYSE:PIO), and Powershares Water Resources Portfolio (NYSE:PHO). Both ETFs track indexes that identify companies that focus on the provision of potable water. (For related reading, check out Water: The Ultimate Commodity.)

Add Your Two Cents
What green sector do you want to invest in? Will the global thirst be quenched with the water provided by GE and its water recycling and desalinization technologies? Will China be able to support its growing population on energy produced from renewable resources? Be sure to join me (aytonmm) in the FREE Stock Picking Community to share your thoughts and see what other investors are saying.

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