5. NRG Energy (1989)

Need cash? NRG is there.

The power provider was founded in 1989, so it’s relatively young compared to others on this list, but its tentacles have spread far and wide. Overall, Princeton-based NRG has over 50 facilities and controls 26 megawatts of capacity. Yes, it has coal and nuclear facilities, but the portfolio sports district heating, solar and other types of projects. It’s also a big player in natural gas, which, like it or not, seems destined to become part of the U.S. clean energy portfolio.

Last October, NRG Solar plunked $300 million into BrightSource Energy, the solar thermal developer and money vacuum. Months later, NRG announced it would buy the 250-megawatt California Solar Ranch project, a PV farm inaugurated by SunPower, and the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project from First Solar.  

It is also a partner in Energy Technology Ventures, a venture firm that has invested in, among others, Alta Devices, which wants to make solar cells from gallium arsenide. Potentially, NRG could become a pipeline for novel solar cells or concentrators.

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