Clean Energy ETFs Cleaned up in 2013

The strength of alternative energy exchange traded funds in 2013 warrants being placed into context. Not only are four of the 10 best, including the top three, sector funds this year alternative energy plays, but those four occupy half the spots among the top eight non-leveraged ETFs of any stripe.

Most of the attention has been focused on the Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEArca: TAN) and the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (NYSEArca: KWT). After several years of forgettable performances and reverse splits along the way, TAN has more than doubled this year and rival KWT is close to a double. The pair are the two best non-leveraged ETFs this year. [Solar ETFs Look for 2014 Sequel]

Solar ETFs are not the only alternative energy funds worthy of praise. The Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF (NYSEArca: GEX) ranks as the third-best non-leveraged ETF with a year-to-date gain of nearly 70%. GEX has benefited from its exposure to non-solar stocks.

“High-flying Tesla (NasdaqGM: TSLA), captained by Elon Musk, rose more than fourfold as a top holding in the Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF. So is Cree (NasdaqGM: CREE) which makes LED lighting products. The stock soared 83% this year and stands to benefit from more mandatory phase-outs of incandescent bulbs in the U.S., analysts say,” reports Chris Dieterich for the Wall Street Journal.

Tesla and Cree combine for 18.6% of GEX’s weight. As the Journal notes, Danish wind turbine maker Vestas has surged 400% this year. That stock is GEX’s fourth-largest holding with a weight of almost 7.4%. [Why Clean Energy ETFs are Soaring]

Speaking of wind power, the First Trust Global Wind Energy Fund (NYSEArca: FAN) has soared 63.4% this year. Vestas is FAN’s largest holding at a weight of 7.8%. First Trust also sponsors another high-flying alternative energy ETF, the First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund (NasdaqGS: QCLN).