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Best Renewable Energy Stocks – Clean Energy Stocks August 2021

There’s no questioning the fact that as a population we’re moving towards cleaner, greener forms of energy. Fossil fuels will be a thing of the past, and the world will benefit immensely from it.How long will it take before Canadian renewable companies…

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There's no questioning the fact that as a population we're moving towards cleaner, greener forms of energy. Fossil fuels will be a thing of the past, and the world will benefit immensely from it.

How long will it take before Canadian renewable companies dominate the energy scene? It's difficult to say. But if I were to guess, not long at all. That's why you need to have a look at these Canadian stocks before it's too late.

The effects of fossil fuels on the climate and climate change in general is an extremely touchy subject, and arguments from both sides tend to pack a sizable punch in terms of support. Plus, much like Canadian gold stocks, fossil fuel companies rely heavily on a commodity and can be quite cyclical.

But all while this is happening, green energy companies here in Canada are quietly amassing large asset bases and production capacities. It's an investment gold mine.

Your best bet as an investor is to funnel out the noise and instead take a position in a strong TSX listed renewable energy stock.

Because it's a matter of when, not if these companies take over as the primary method of energy generation. And while people sit on the sidelines, squabbling over if swapping to renewables is worth it, you can be making boatloads of money off of it.

Don't believe me? These clean energy companies have crushed the returns of the TSX Index.

So if you're new to buying stocks here in Canada, you may want to know what exactly these Canadian renewable energy companies do?

What exactly do Canadian renewable energy companies do?

Renewable energy is defined as such:

"energy from natural resources that can be naturally replenished within a human lifespan." - Natural Resources Canada

Renewable energy companies provide sources of power that are often considered cleaner and more sustainable. How about some examples of renewable power?

  • Hydroelectric
  • Wind
  • Solar
  • Biomass
  • Hydrogen

Renewable energy provides nearly 20% of Canada's energy supply, with hydroelectricity accounting for over half of that.

A common misconception, renewable companies aren't the new kids on the block. They have been around for quite some time now, and as a result clean energy stocks provide stable and reliable cash flows, much like regulated utility giants Fortis, Canadian Utilities and Emera.

The end result?

Clean energy companies are able to provide strong dividends to go along with upside potential in an ever growing industry.

Let’s take a closer look at four renewable energy companies we think are the cream of the crop here in Canada for 2021.

As requested by many readers, we've also added a solar energy company to the list in this most recent update. Solar stocks in Canada have been around for a while, but have remained relatively unknown due to high costs, and investors are starting to gain interest

 

What are the best Canadian renewable energy stocks?

4. Canadian Solar Inc (NASDAQ:CSIQ)

One of the primary reasons we've never included a Canadian solar company on this list of renewable energy stocks is the fact that the best of the best trades down south on the NASDAQ. However, due to increasing demand we figure we'd start talking about Canadian Solar Inc (NASDAQ:CSIQ).

Solar stocks in general have surged as of late, but since its lows in March 2020 Canadian Solar has shot up over 97%.

The stock has dipped significantly from all time highs however as renewable energy companies have gone through a significant correction. But, there is still a bullish attitude.

We think investors, and analysts for that matter, are finally starting to see the potential in the once small cap Canadian (but U.S. traded) company.

Canadian Solar benefits from a fairly low cost of production and has a decent amount of projects planned for the future.

Initially, solar power faced a lot of criticism. Production costs were extremely high, and it wasn't looked at as a permanent solution to dirtier forms of power.

But the fact is, we wouldn't even need to capture one-hundredth of a percent of the energy hitting the earth in a year to be able to scrap every other form of energy generation. And as costs of production come down, it's becoming a more feasible clean energy generation method.

Canadian Solar has been a very frustrating stock for those buying it as a value investment.

But interestingly enough, even with a 97% run up, Canadian Solar is still fairly valued considering the future of solar energy.

Trading at only 0.38 times 2021 expected sales and 12.81 times 2021 expected earnings, valuations are not outrageous. The company has been fairly inconsistent with its growth, which is why the market isn't really willing to pay a high earnings multiple. But again, most of its inconsistencies have been as a result of what we've stated above.

Keep in mind however, this is the only renewable energy stock on this list that doesn't currently pay a dividend, and we would classify this stock as the highest risk of the bunch as well.

CSIQ 5 year performance vs the NASDAQ:

NASDAQ CSIQ 5 Year Performance

3. Northland Power (TSX:NPI)

Northland Power Logo

Northland Power (TSX:NPI) is a pure play renewable energy company, and one that has been in business for a long period of time. The company was established in 1987, and operates nearly 2,700 MW of electricity

Northland has witnessed some incredible growth in terms of earnings over the last 3 years with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31%. The company has also managed to more than double revenue since 2015.

The bulk of the company's renewable operations are located in Eastern Canada.

In fact, the farthest the company reaches out west are two facilities in Saskatchewan - its Spy Hill facility with 86 MW of production and its North Battleford facility, with 260 MW of production. Both of these facilities generate power by burning natural gas and full contracts are established until 2036 and 2033 respectively.

The company has a total of 27 assets, 2 of which we've already talked about. With 19 facilities in the province, Northland has a high percentage of its assets in Ontario. Quebec has 2 wind farms, while the Netherlands and Germany have one wind farm each, Netherlands being offshore.

The renewable company closed on its acquisition of EBSA back in September of 2019, a Colombian regulated utility company for around $1.05 billion. EBSA serves nearly half a million customers, and its revenue is highly regulated, thus highly reliable. It also provides Northland Power with strong revenue outside of North America.

In terms of performance, Northland Power, at least over the last year and a half, has not disappointed. Much like the other renewable energy companies on this list, it has been hit hard by a correction in early to mid 2021, but it's still a very strong long term option.

The company currently has a yield of 2.99% and a payout ratio in terms of earnings of 89%. This payout ratio looks high, hwoever the dividend is well covered by cash flow at 17.33%.

Northland Power's lack of dividend growth is one of the primary reasons it falls short on this list. Especially considering the company has ample room to grow it.

But, don't let that fool you, this is still a very strong renewable energy stock.

NPI.TO 5 year performance vs the TSX:

TSE:NPI Vs TSX 5 Year

2. Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (TSX:BEP.UN)

Brookfield Renewable Partners

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (TSX:BEP.UN) is another pure-play renewable company and is one of the fastest growing by a landslide. The company is expected to grow earnings at a rate of nearly 40% over the next 5 years.

To add to this, the company is already the fastest growing pure-play renewable energy company in the country with a compound annual growth rate of 10.71%.

The company has over 21,000 MW of capacity and just shy of 6000 facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and South America. The company's goal is to deliver shareholders annual returns in the 12-15% range. Thus far, it has more than accomplished its objective.

The company's portfolio consists of wind, solar, storage facilities and distributed generation and most importantly, hydroelectric, which makes up over 75% of its portfolio.

Back in March of 2020, the company entered an agreement to buy Terraform Energy in an all stock deal. This purchase made Brookfield Renewable Partners the biggest pure-play renewable energy company in the world.

The company pays a generous dividend of 3.14% and the dividend accounts for only 80%~ of funds from operations.

Management has stated they want its dividend to grow by 5-9% annually over the next 5 years. This would be an increase over its past results, so it will be interesting to see how the company performs.

Renewable companies faced a significant correction in 2021, which will be evident in the performance chart below. In our eyes, all this has done has made Brookfield Renewables more attractive.

In our last update of this piece, we had stated that valuation was one of the main reasons it was number 3 on this list. Well, we've bumped it up to number 2 now due to its recent correction.

The company also set up a Canadian corporation, BEPC, to be the "equivalent" to the partnership BEP.UN. This is primarily a tax consideration, one that you'll need to figure out on your own which one is best for you.

Brookfield Renewables 5 year performance vs the TSX:

TSE:BEP.UN Vs TSX 5 Year

1. Algonquin Power (TSX:AQN)

Algonquin

Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX:AQN) is a diversified generation, transmission and distribution utility company. The company provides rate regulated natural gas, water, and electricity generation, transmission, and distribution utility services to over 800,000 customers in the United States and Canada.

The company is engaged in the generation of clean energy through its portfolio of long term contracted wind, solar and hydroelectric generating facilities representing more than 1,600 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity.

There are a few things we really like about the company, but there's one thing that stands out with Algonquin, and that is its growth rates.

Algonquin is one of the fastest growing utility companies on the TSX Index. In fact, the company grew earnings by 33% in 2020, and prior to a very unfortunate one-off event in Texas that ended up costing the company $55 million, analysts expected strong growth in 2021 as well.

They've changed their tune now, and overall it will be a flat or even shrinking year for Algonquin. But, it's important to understand that this is very temporary, and we'd expect the company to get back to growth in 2022.

2021 aside, you're not going to find many utility companies on the index that provide this kind of growth, especially one that offers a rock solid dividend to go along with it.

Algonquin, at the time of writing, yields around 4.37%. In terms of earnings this works out to be a payout ratio of around 31%.

With a dividend growth streak of 10 years, the company has proven to be capable of consistently raising its dividend. In fact, Algonquin is one of the few Canadian Dividend Aristocrats that raised the dividend during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Algonquin is a top 5 holding in one of Canada's biggest utility ETFs, and pays its dividend in US dollars, providing an even more attractive proposition to Canadian investors.

AQN.TO 5 year performance vs the TSX

TSE:AQN Vs TSX Index


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The Bloc’s Secrets of Success: 5 Ways The Health Creative Agency Won 200 Awards

As a global pandemic has reshaped society, The Bloc has been at the forefront of changing not just what stories get told about healthcare, but how they are told. In doing so, the health creative agency has won more than 200 film and advertising awards…

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The Bloc’s Secrets of Success: 5 Ways The Health Creative Agency Won 200 Awards

The Bloc achieved unprecedented levels of acclaim and recognition by embracing creativity, racial justice, technology, new practices, and people

New York, NY, September 22 – Over the past two years, The Bloc has redefined health creative to become one of America’s most talked about agencies. As a global pandemic has reshaped society, The Bloc has been at the forefront of changing not just what stories get told about healthcare, but how they’re told. In doing so, they’ve won over 200 film and advertising awards in 2020 and 2021. Recently, The Bloc became the first ever health agency listed on the “Of The Year” ranking for the entire Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In addition, The Bloc is a founding member of The BlocPartners, the acclaimed global network of independent health creative agencies. The BlocPartners recently placed second in the “Health Network of the Festival” category at the Cannes Lions Health Festival.

The Bloc CEO Jennifer Matthews (PRNewsfoto/The Bloc)

“The work we’ve been so awarded for lately has been a natural extension of our motto ‘Be Great to Do Good,’” said Jennifer Matthews, CEO at The Bloc. “Health is life. It deserves the very best in creative excellence.”

  1. Invest in Hollywood Level Filmmaking 

A man walks through a futuristic train station, suffering from a cough, and decides to seek help from an automated doctor. That’s the premise of The Bloc’s award-winning short film Instant Doctor. Made so as to give thanks to doctors and released on National Doctor’s Day (March 30, 2020), the film highlighted the importance of the human element in healthcare by showing a world where medicine is done via machines.  

Instant Doctor won the Grand Jury Award for Best Short at the New York International Film Awards and was declared the Best Sci-fi Short Film at the 2020 Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“Instant Doctor has shown the industry that healthcare advertising can have not just the production quality but also the storytelling excellence of Hollywood movies,” said Bernardo Romero, Chief Creative Officer at The Bloc. “Healthcare has never been more important, which means health creative should be of the same quality as what you would see in a movie theatre or stream on Netflix.”

  1. Tackle the Biggest Issues – Including Racism and Racial Bias in Healthcare

Some of The Bloc’s most acclaimed recent work has centered around racial justice, both in healthcare and in the broader world. 

In early 2020, The Bloc, in partnership with acclaimed ballet dancer Ingrid Silva’s EmpowHer New York, released “The Call,” a short film where an actress went undercover on nursing advice hotlines to expose racial disparities in healthcare treatment. 

The Bloc went on to work with Ingrid on two more films. First came Skindeep, an animated story about racial trauma told through watercolor frames by Black women illustrators. Skindeep was followed by Making Space, a documentary about Ingrid’s life journey which premiered at Cannes Lions. 

In partnership with the National Black Child Development Institute, The Bloc created ABC’s of Survival, a tear-apart book for black children and their parents. The book aims to support mental health and change laws by including postcards that can be sent to congress. The ebook can be found at abcsofsurvival.com.

  1. Hire and Promote the Best People

The Bloc continues to grow rapidly and has recently hired Stuart Goldstein as COO and promoted Antoinette Bobbitt to EVP, strategy director. Stuart will be The Bloc’s first COO, and he’ll oversee the management for over 4,500 projects a year, with the goal of increasing efficiency and profitability. Meanwhile, Antoinette will ensure that The Bloc’s competitive differentiation is present in all client work.

The Bloc’s commitment to its employees was underscored this summer when Fortune magazine listed it as one of the best workplaces in New York for 2021. The Bloc is one of three advertising agencies on the list, and the only health creative agency focused exclusively on health.

  1. Get High Tech

More and more agencies are realizing that their creative skills can be used to power tech innovations, and The Bloc has focused on the development of tech to address pressing health needs. At the beginning of the pandemic, The Bloc pioneered SafeCode, a device concept which combined a bar-code scanner with UV light to help stop the spread of disease on delivery packages. 

The Bloc has also created a tool to aid mental health. At the end of 2020, they worked with Rockwell Ventures to create Scrollaby, an app which takes the habit of “doomscrolling” and turns it into a sleep aid, with over 1,000 pieces of custom content that support rest and relaxation.

  1. Rethink Agency Practices

To expand upon the capabilities it has developed, The Bloc has established new practice areas that distinguish it in the healthcare agency space.

One new practice area is The Bloc Science Foundry, which applies behavioral science and scientific expertise to medical communications. The other is The Bloc Storytellers

And this year, The Bloc announced its Storytellers department, which is dedicated to bringing unsurpassed production and narrative quality to healthcare creative. Storytellers seeks to replicate the success The Bloc has had with The Call, Skindeep, and Instant Doctor. The Bloc is currently searching for the best creative minds from the film, theater, and TV industries to join their team. Resumes can be sent to storytellers@thebloc.com.

 

About The Bloc

The Bloc is a leading independent health creative agency in the United States. Celebrating 21 years in 2021, The Bloc delivers comprehensive omnichannel communications for audiences across the health spectrum and partners with innovative clients who are doing some of the most meaningful and exciting work in health today. A founding member of The BlocPartners, the leading global network of independent health creative agencies, The Bloc’s work has been globally recognized for creativity and innovation. For more information, visit www.thebloc.com.

 

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As inflation fears spike, 1build raises $14M to help construction firms optimize their cost estimates

It’s an extraordinarily exhausting time to estimate costs in the construction industry. Lumber prices skyrocketed during the post-pandemic construction spree, only to come hurtling back down to Earth in recent weeks. Copper, concrete, and steel have…

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It’s an extraordinarily exhausting time to estimate costs in the construction industry. Lumber prices skyrocketed during the post-pandemic construction spree, only to come hurtling back down to Earth in recent weeks. Copper, concrete, and steel have also seen wild price swings as supply chain breakages, workers shortages, border restrictions and more plague price stability.

Construction is among the world’s largest industries, with firms planning and building projects valued at trillions of dollars at pretty much any time. Yet, it’s also one of the most archaic industries, with a heavy reliance on paper even as IT has increasingly filtered into more of the industry’s processes. Paper though can’t match the extreme volatility in materials and labor happening today, and that means construction firms need better and more real-time software tools to handle cost estimates.

1build has a bold vision to own not just cost estimating, but everything that it takes to get a building under construction. “We are going to occupy the whitespace niche of pre-construction — your planing, your estimating, up until you break ground on your building,” CEO and founder Dmitry Alexin said.

Alexin had been scouting around for startup ideas in the real estate sector in 2018 and 2019, having previously worked in finance. He worked briefly at a stealth startup in the space, where he “helped to select real estate with data science.” He discovered a problem when it came to modeling the development of a property though: it wasn’t easy to determine what could be built or how much it would cost. “I just assumed you can just use an API to figure out the cost to build,” he said.

That led him into the rabbit hole that is the math of the construction industry. He discovered “this analog industry … three times as large as ecommerce and still in this offline, non-digitized way to consume,” he said. He wanted to automate more of these processes, but even that ran into challenges. “When I was forming 1build, it was creating a data standard for the construction industry,” he explained. Eventually, he zeroed in on cost estimating.

Alexin is a solo founder, who has since built up a management team around him. He and a few early employees joined the YC Winter 2020 batch, where 1build was identified as one of TechCrunch’s 20 most exciting startups in the batch out of several hundred (the company was my selection).

The startup’s timing, though, was horrific. “COVID happened right as we were graduating,” Alexin said. The company suffered a “50% reduction in usage in the first 30 days.” The company was still small and it hunkered down, but then something surprising happened: the construction industry just zoomed forward as millions of people moved to new homes and offices with the rise of remote work.

The company raised a previously undisclosed $5.5 million seed round from Initialized Capital and kept building. It focused on building a single platform (that’s the “1build”) around all aspects of estimating costs and handling the planning phase of construction. It’s “almost an experience that feels like interacting a spreadsheet, but we pull in the latest materials rate, the latest labor rates,” Alexin said. From there, you can “develop your estimate yourself, line item by line item.” He says that integrating all construction planning in one location can massively save time and money, and is particularly valuable for smaller contractors and construction firms who don’t have the scaled-up planning teams of their larger brethren.

1build’s team, with CEO and founder Dmitry Alexin sitting in center of first row. Image Credits: 1build

Alexin said that subscription revenues have risen 7x in the past 10 months, and 10x since April when we talked a few weeks ago. That excitement led it to a quick, $14.5 million Series A led by Brent Baltimore at Greycroft. Alexin said that Baltimore has been engaged in construction tech for a long time, and said that “we felt that they were the one firm that understood what we are doing.”

The team, as is typical these days, is spread out, with the majority in the U.S. and others in Canada and Europe.

1build wants to be the one stop for the construction industry, and hopes that the industry standardizes on a universal set of data formats. “The more and more builders that adapt that, the more we can build into the product,” he said.

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Long COVID: double vaccination halves risk of developing long-lasting symptoms

Want to avoid long COVID? Get vaccinated.

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Studio Romantic/Shutterstock

In unvaccinated people, around one in 20 who get symptomatic COVID-19 experience symptoms for at least eight weeks. Around one in 50 have symptoms that drag out for three months or more.

We wanted to know whether COVID-19 vaccines might protect against developing long-lasting symptoms. To find out, we looked at data provided by more than a million regular contributors to the COVID Symptom Study, a project in which members of the public log their symptoms via an app to help with research.

Our latest analysis of the study’s data, covering around 2 million vaccine doses, shows that vaccines significantly reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, with only 0.2% of those fully vaccinated later testing positive for the virus.

Even if you’re unlucky enough to catch the virus after being vaccinated, your chances of falling seriously ill or dying are slashed. Double-vaccinated people are 31% less likely to experience acute COVID-19 symptoms and 73% less likely to be hospitalised – a result that’s borne out in the relatively low hospitalisation and death rates we’re seeing now even as tens of thousands of people are still testing positive every day in the UK.

Reassuringly, for those who did fall ill with COVID-19 after being vaccinated, only around 5% went on to have symptoms that lasted for more than four weeks, meaning their chances of developing long COVID were cut by half. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting long COVID is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

However, we did notice that frail older people and those living in more socially deprived areas were more likely to be infected and fall ill with COVID-19 after being vaccinated, especially if they had only had one vaccine dose. This suggests that we should prioritise further vaccination efforts and public health measures such as masking and social distancing among these groups, especially where infection rates are high and people are mixing and moving around.

Vaccines and long COVID

As the UK vaccination programme rolled out, we also started to notice anecdotal reports from people living with long COVID that their symptoms seemed to improve after being vaccinated.

The patient-led LongCovidSOS group chose to investigate this by surveying over 800 long COVID patients early in 2021. More than half of those surveyed noticed an overall improvement in their symptoms after vaccination, which then appeared to be sustained in about half of this group. Around a quarter of the overall respondents reported no difference and one-fifth said their symptoms had got worse. These findings have been released as a preprint, so haven’t yet been reviewed by other scientists, but they’ve been backed up by data from the COVID Symptom Study, which we’ll be publishing soon.

However, while there does seem to be some kind of link between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and improvements in long COVID, it’s not clear exactly how the two are connected. It could be that the immune response triggered by the vaccine has a direct impact on symptoms.

Alternatively, it could just be that time has continued to pass since these people were originally infected and they’re experiencing a natural recovery from the virus. Or it could be a bit of both. Either way, more research is needed to tease out what’s going on.

A woman with long COVID lying on a bed, covering her face
There isn’t a definitive answer yet on whether vaccines can relieve people’s long COVID symptoms. True Touch Lifestyle/Shutterstock

What we can say is that COVID-19 vaccines certainly aren’t harmful for people with long COVID. What’s more, because we know that it’s possible to be reinfected with the virus, there’s a risk that catching it a second time could exacerbate symptoms for people living with long COVID and set them back even further. It’s therefore vital that we encourage anyone with long COVID who has not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, to help protect themselves and those around them.

A serious threat

Although the chances of developing long COVID after being vaccinated are small, this is a numbers game and a small percentage of a big number can still be substantial. As long as we are seeing tens of thousands of cases every day, we can still expect to see a substantial number of people living with lingering symptoms over the coming months.

This is particularly important for younger people, who may be less worried about hospitalisation or death, yet who can still be susceptible to the debilitating long-term effects of the virus. A lot can happen in a few months when you’re young, and long COVID can mean that people miss out on life-changing opportunities, like sitting an exam or taking up a new job, as well as the social activities that bring joy and wellbeing to life.

It’s likely that we’ll all be living with COVID-19 for some time to come. But with a combination of vaccination and public health measures where necessary, we can help to make sure that as few people as possible have to directly live with its life-limiting long-term effects.

Claire Steves consults for ZOE Ltd which is the company which developed the COVID Symptom Study together with King's College London. She receives funding from the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and Chronic Disease Research Foundation.

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