The alternative energy sector is comprised of companies that engage in the generation, distribution, and sale of renewable and clean energy, as well as related products and services. Examples of alternative energy sources include solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal. The growing list of names in the sector includes companies like Israel-based SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (SEDG), Brazil-based Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais CEMIG (CIG), and First Solar Inc. (FSLR). Alternative energy stocks, as represented by the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN), have dramatically outperformed the broader market, posting a total return of 47.4% compared to the Russell 1000's total return of 12.6% over the past 12 months. These market performance numbers are as of September 21 and the statistics in the tables below are as of September 22.

Here are the top 3 alternative energy stocks with the best value, the fastest earnings growth, and the most momentum.

Best Value Alternative Energy Stocks

These are the alternative energy stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Alternative Energy Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
Renewable Energy Group Inc. (REGI) 46.88 1.8 3.5
Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) 29.43 1.7 6.9
JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (JKS) 27.45 1.2 12.6

Source: YCharts

  • Renewable Energy Group Inc.: Renewable Energy Group develops and distributes biofuels, renewable chemicals, and related products. The company works with businesses across the U.S. On September 22, Renewable Energy Group announced that it had broken ground on a wind turbine to provide power to its biorefinery in Albert Lea, Minnesota, enabling it to lower the plant's carbon footprint.
  • Canadian Solar Inc.: Canadian Solar is a Canada-based solar power company that designs, manufactures, and sells solar module products that convert sunlight into electricity. In September, the company reported the completion of the sale of its Suffield Solar Project to BluEarth Renewables. The project is under construction and is slated to be one of the largest solar photovoltaic facilities in the province of Alberta, Canada.
  • JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd.: JinkoSolar is a China-based energy company that manufactures solar products including silicon wafers, solar cells, and solar modules. The company also offers solar system integration services.

Fastest Growing Alternative Energy Stocks

These are the alternative energy stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) earnings per share (EPS) growth for the most recent quarter. Rising earnings show that a company’s business is growing and is generating more money that it can reinvest or return to shareholders.

Fastest Growing Alternative Energy Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap
($B)

 
EPS Growth (%)
JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (JKS) 27.45 1.2 159.1
Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (AQN.TO) CA$18.61 CA$11.0 77.1
SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (SEDG) 190.41 9.5 6.1

Source: YCharts

  • JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd.: See company description above.
  • Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.: Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities focuses on renewable power generation and sustainable infrastructure operations. The company owns or holds stakes in thermal and renewable energy facilities, water distribution operations, and waste-water facilities. On September 18, Algonquin announced that Arthur Kacprzak had been appointed Chief Financial Officer.
  • SolarEdge Technologies Inc.: SolarEdge Technologies is an Israel-based solar energy company that provides solar power optimization and photovoltaic monitoring solutions. The company provides optimizers, inverters, monitoring equipment, tools, and accessories for the purpose of power harvesting, conversion, and efficiency.

Alternative Energy Stocks with the Most Momentum

These are the alternative energy stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Alternative Energy Stocks with the Most Momentum

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Bloom Energy Corp. (BE) 17.92 2.5 439.8
Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) 13.36 5.4 377.1
Vivint Solar Inc. (VSLR) 33.09 4.2 325.3
S&P 500 N/A N/A 12.6
iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN) N/A N/A 47.4

Source: YCharts

  • Bloom Energy Corp.: Bloom Energy makes equipment used in power generation, including on-site generation systems utilizing fuel cells. The company's customers represent industries as diverse as health care, banking, media and communication, food and beverage, technology, and utilities, among others.
  • Plug Power Inc.: Plug Power designs, manufactures, and sells fuel cell systems used in electric lift trucks and other equipment. The company serves customers in retail, grocery, manufacturing, and food distribution worldwide. On August 19, Plug Power announced that it had developed a new, lightweight fuel cell system for use in small scale robotics, drones, automatic guided vehicles, and aerospace applications. The fuel cell has several times the battery life of past designs and is designed for "the most demanding operating conditions." 
  • Vivint Solar Inc.: Vivint Solar is a residential solar energy provider that designs, installs, and maintains photovoltaic systems. On July 6, rival residential solar power company Sunrun Inc. (RUN) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Vivint Solar in an all-stock deal worth $3.2 billion. A class action lawsuit was filed against Vivint in September for failure to disclose material information related to the transaction.