Exchange traded funds that hold alternative energy stocks are among some this year’s top-performing non-leveraged sector ETFs. So hot have been alternative energy funds that five of the 10 best non-leveraged ETFs year-to-date are play on alternative energy.

In terms of ETFs offering exposure to ex-U.S. developed markets, Japan funds have stood tall thanks to improving economic data and a weakening yen. Although it has been a rough year for emerging markets funds, some China ETFs have consistently strong all year while others have recently started delivering impressive returns. [A Meaningful Rotation Into China ETFs]

Imagine the potency of an ETF that can offer exposure to alternative energy stocks as well as Chinese and Japanese equities. Investors do not need to imagine that alluring proposition because the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (NasdaqGS: ICLN) delivers on all three fronts. Up 27% year-to-date, ICLN has allocations to more than 10 countries, but the fund’s top-10 geographic exposures combine for 95% of the ETF’s weight. [Alternative Energy ETFs Win in Fiscal Cliff Deal]

Importantly, Japan, China and the U.S. combine for nearly 55% of ICLN’s weight. Japan alone is nearly 23 of ICLN’s country exposure, giving the ETF some utility as a weak yen play, although it is not a currency hedged fund. [Japan ETFs Jump Back Above Short-Term Trend Line]

ICLN, which is over five years old and has $39.2 million in assets under management, is home to just 31 stocks. Since the overall lineup is small and the U.S. is less than 14% of the fund’s country weight, ICLN is not currently home to one of the stocks that has been a vital driver of alternative energy ETF returns this year: Tesla (NasdaqGM: TSLA). [Tesla, Solar Stocks Lead This ETF’s Surge]