Science Energy Best Renewable Energy Companies Make your life as sustainable as possible By Kiah Treece Environmental Law, J.D., University of Toledo College of Law Interdisciplinary Ecology, M.S., University of Florida Ecosystem Science and Policy, Geological Science, B.A., University of Miami Kiah is a sustainability coach who is dedicated to intentional, sustainable living and the role we can play in improving the environment for future generations. our editorial process Kiah Treece Updated January 11, 2021 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Energy Renewable Energy Fossil Fuels Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. DanubiusFoto / Twenty20 As the world moves away from fossil fuels and dependence on nonrenewable energy, companies dedicated to making alternative energy options more accessible are becoming increasingly more important and high profile. Whether solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, or biofuel, these companies are not only taking steps to move the world closer to oil independence but also present promising investment opportunities. To demystify the current renewable energy landscape and help you make educated investments, we identified the best renewable energy companies out there. On the financial side, we looked at factors like free cash flow, balance sheet health, and share price. We also evaluated the steps each company is taking to move its operations toward a more sustainable future. 5 Best Renewable Energy Companies of 2021 Best Overall: Canadian Solar Inc. Best Wind Energy: TPI Composites Best Hydroelectric Power: Brookfield Renewable Partners Best Biofuel: Renewable Energy Group, Inc. Best Utility Company: NextEra Energy Best Overall: Canadian Solar Inc. Canadian Solar Inc. Learn More Why We Chose It: Candian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) stands out because of its impressive global solar market share and its 100% fair trade approach to renewable energy generation. What We Like: - Represented about 7% of the global solar market share in 2019 - Taking steps to reduce electricity and water consumption in manufacturing - 100% fair trade What We Don’t Like: - Quarterly growth is not as substantial as some other renewable energy companies Canadian Solar Inc. is an Ontario-based energy company that focuses on the design, manufacture, and sale of solar modules, inverters, system kits, and utility-level products. Founded in 2001, the company has subsidiaries on six continents and active customers in more than 150 countries. Through its efforts, the service has delivered about 52 gigawatts (GW) of solar modules and has a target of 20GW of shipments in 2021. In addition, it operates in accordance with the principles of fair trade and does not purchase conflict minerals or employ child labor. Importantly, this growth has not come at the expense of Candian Solar’s more than 14,000 employees or the environment. In fact, the company continues to reduce the water and electricity consumed as part of the manufacturing process in an effort to combat climate change. Canadian Solar also incorporated the United Nations’ sustainable development goals into its corporate strategy through steps like donating solar modules to a medical center in Sierra Leone. Best Wind Energy: TPI Composites TPI Composites Learn More Why We Chose It: As the largest producer of composite wind blades in the U.S., TPI Composites (TPIC) is a top pick because of its strong financials and commitment to the environment, health, and safety. What We Like: - Largest manufacturer of composite wind blades in the U.S. - Net sales in Q3 2020 increased by 23.5% over the same period in 2019 - Comprehensive environmental health and safety plan What We Don’t Like: - Doesn’t display as substantial a commitment to social responsibility as other companies on our list Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, TPI Composites is the largest manufacturer of composite wind blades in the U.S. In fact, the company has manufactured more than 62,000 wind blades since 2001, and units produced in the last five years can reduce CO2 by over 980 million metric tons over 20 years. In addition to its headquarters, TPI Composites has several locations in the U.S. and international facilities in China, Germany, Denmark, India, Mexico, and Turkey. Because of its large footprint, TPIC reportedly manufactured 18% of all onshore wind blades that were sold in 2019 on an MW-basis. And, according to the company’s third-quarter 2020 earnings results, its net sales increased by 23.5% over the same period the previous year. From a sustainability standpoint, TPI Composites excels because of its comprehensive environmental health and safety policy. It’s also committed to considering and reducing the impacts of its facilities on the environment, with six of its nine facilities earning ISO 14001 certification for having effective environmental management systems in place. Best Hydroelectric Power: Brookfield Renewable Partners Brookfield Renewable Partners Learn More Why We Chose It: Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP) is one of our top picks because it has had one of the largest impacts on reducing global emissions of CO2 and has a robust energy portfolio. What We Like: - One of the world’s largest renewable energy companies - Exhibits substantial growth, especially in the solar sector - Its renewable energy plants are responsible for a huge reduction in CO2 emissions What We Don’t Like: - Hydropower earnings were down in Q3 2020 Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners is a renewable energy company with more than $575 billion in assets under management. The portfolio of renewable power companies includes upwards of 5,318 power generation facilities across North America, South America, Asia, and Europe with a total of around 19,400 MW in energy capacity. About 64% of Brookfield’s portfolio is in hydroelectric power, making it a leader in the industry. The portfolio also includes diverse holdings in wind and solar, with a move to acquire the business of solar utility Exelon. In addition, Brookfield Renewable’s third-quarter funds from operation increased by 18% in 2020. And like other companies on our list, Brookfield’s portfolio has contributed to massive reductions in global emissions. More specifically, the portfolio helps avoid about 28 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year—the equivalent of removing about 6 million vehicles from the road annually. Best Biofuel: Renewable Energy Group, Inc. Renewable Energy Group, Inc. Learn More Why We Chose It: We chose Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REGI) as the best biofuel company due to its large levels of fuel production in the U.S. and its use of byproducts that might otherwise be wasted resources. What We Like: - Largest biodiesel producer in the U.S. by volume - Refines biofuels from byproducts, thus reducing waste and improving efficiency - Q3 2020 sales of self-produced biodiesel increased What We Don’t Like: - Revenue was flat in Q3 2020 and the volume of fuel sold decreased Renewable Energy Group, Inc. made its first biodiesel in 1996 and is currently the largest biodiesel producer by volume in the U.S. Since then, the company has eliminated 20.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions through the production of its biodiesel products. Originally created as a way to increase the value of co-op members’ grain, REGI continues its dedication to environmental and social responsibility. In addition to producing and delivering renewable fuels, REGI reduces its footprint by making fuels from byproducts that might otherwise go to waste. In addition, the company aims to increase efficiency and improve its biorefineries in a way that promotes profitability and responsible resource management. With Q3 2020 revenues of $576 million on 176 million gallons of fuel sold, REGI is also succeeding financially—though this number did not demonstrate any growth due to the low cost of diesel. And, while there was a 6% decrease in the amount of fuel sold in Q3, the company reports this was largely due to an improvement in product mix—the sale of self-produced biodiesel actually increased. Best Utility Company: NextEra Energy NextEra Energy Learn More Why We Chose It: NextEra is our top renewable energy utility company because it is the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy. What We Like: - Largest producer of wind and solar energy in the world - Making efforts to reduce its own CO2 emissions - Experienced 11% growth in earnings in Q3 2020 What We Don’t Like: - Owns and operates oil, natural gas, and nuclear-powered plants As the largest producer of wind and solar energy in the world, NextEra Energy (NEE) has reduced the United States’ dependence on foreign oil by 98% since 2001. The company owns two power companies in Florida (Florida Power & Light Company and Gulf Power Company) as well as NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a competitive clean energy business. As part of its renewable energy and sustainability initiatives, NextEra Energy has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions rate by 67% from 2005 levels by 2025. The company also makes efforts to minimize the impacts of its operations on wildlife and ecosystems and prevent pollution stemming from energy production. That said, NextEra still owns and operates plants powered by oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy, so it’s not an ideal choice if you’re investing exclusively in clean energy. Like some other options on our list, NextEra Energy saw growth in the third quarter of 2020—an 11% increase in adjusted earnings per share over the same quarter in 2019. Additionally, NextEra increased its development expectations through 2022 to reflect growth in its renewable energy projects, and leadership believes the company will meet its long-term growth objectives. Bottom Line Renewable energy continues to grow in popularity as technology improves and the cost to consumers decreases. But with so many alternative energy options available, it can be difficult to determine the most significant companies in this burgeoning industry. Canadian Solar, our overall best renewable energy company, combines impressive growth with corporate, social, and environmental responsibility. Plus, the company’s wide selection of solar products for residential, commercial, and utility use makes it a huge player in the renewable energy space. What Is Renewable Energy? Renewable energy comes from natural sources that are not finite and that replenish naturally. Also referred to as clean energy or alternative energy, common types of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biodiesel. In contrast, nonrenewable energy sources—like oil and natural gas—will either run out or fail to be replenished in our lifetimes. What Is the Most Widely Used Renewable Energy? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), biomass accounted for 43% of renewable energy consumption in 2019, with 20% stemming from wood, 20% from biofuels, and 4% from biomass waste. That said, the single most widely used renewable energy source in 2019 was wind, which accounted for 24% of renewable energy consumption that year. Hydroelectric was the next highest at 22%, with solar and geothermal coming in last at 9% and 2%, respectively. What Is the Cheapest Source of Renewable Energy? Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of renewable energy, costing an average of just $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh). By comparison, other renewable energy sources like solar photovoltaic, onshore wind, biomass, and geothermal energy are typically below $0.13 per kWh; offshore wind is around $0.13 per kWh. How We Chose the Best Renewable Energy Companies To select the best renewable energy companies, we looked at factors that illustrate each company’s financial strength, like quarterly earnings and growth. We also considered each service’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and to improve their local and global communities through more sustainable practices.