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Is the World About to Experience a Solar Sea Change?

The numbers are in: $13 billion was invested in solar projects in 2013 – a tantalizing 10-fold increase since 2007.

And, as proof that a rising tide lifts all boats, shares of residential solar king, SolarCity (SCTY), have increased over 350%…

As Wall Street hungrily profits from the uptick in solar stocks, a question remains…

Is there actually money to be made from this mania, or is it just a passing fad?

Believe me; you’ll want to see my answer.

Solar Power is Living on a Prayer

With all the hype surrounding SolarCity moving into 2014, it might seem as though the tides are turning for solar.

But I know better.

SolarCity shares might be skyrocketing, but the company hasn’t made a single dime.

Owner Elon Musk – who also owns Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) – has certainly captured investors’ imaginations. After all, SolarCity offers the first viable use for solar cells in everyday life.

But now that generous tax credits will be shrinking in the near future, solar advocates are scrambling to find new and innovative solar applications…

And the solar tech that’s currently eclipsing all others is the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept Car.

Ford (F) debuted the technology this week at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The motor company designed the technology with the help of Georgia Institute of Technology and SunPower (SPWR).

Photo taken by Tech & Innovation Press Team

This plug-in hybrid concept car utilizes 16 square feet of roof space for solar power. The power of these cells is magnified by an oversize Fresnel lens that funnels free energy into photovoltaic (PV) cells.

The C-MAX combines these PV cells and large concentrating Fresnel lens with a conventional gasoline engine in a trifecta of energy efficiency. The car hints at an automotive future that may bypass both gas station networks and electrical grids by utilizing 100% renewable power.

And the high-efficiency panels and lens made quite a statement Tuesday.

While there are still major questions – of cost, safety and energy return on investment (EROI) – the C-MAX has developed what investors crave: another practical use for PVs.

So with the game-changing new tech, is the collaboration between Ford and SunPower the new SolarCity?

Maybe. But before you start piling your money into any solar investment – especially in the automotive space – keep this fact in mind…

Petroleum still dominates the transportation industry. Period.

Sure, as household solar continues to become cheaper, perform well for Wall Street, and inspire imagination, that could change. And in 20 years, you may wonder why anyone would build a car without photovoltaic power.

However, while the debut of the C-MAX announced to the world that the commercialization of cleantech has real potential to cause sea change in a world swimming in a high-octane pool, it’s not happening just yet.

And “the chase” continues,

Burns Foster