By all indications, it seems 2017 is the year for bitcoin. One of several cryptocurrencies, it has been making headlines for its huge gains in value, currently sitting at $8,000 per coin. While bitcoin is a tantalizing investment, renewable energy is a better option.

The reason renewable energy is less attractive to investors is that it is slow to yield returns; however, this is why it is unlikely to go away anytime soon and what makes it superior to bitcoin.

In the past, the rise and fall of renewable-energy stocks were tied to the performance of carbon-based energy stocks. When the price of oil rose, the value of renewable energy increased because of more competitive pricing. The scenario also worked in reverse. In 2017, a new trend emerged, indicating a divergence between the two. Renewable energy was up as much as carbon-based energy was down.

One reason for the divergence is an increase in renewable energy use in the United States. Iowa led the trend with 37 percent of the state’s energy generated by either solar panels or wind power. Overall, the country doubled its renewable energy generation from 7.7 percent in the year 2001 to about 15 percent in December 2016.

In addition, renewable energy is gaining ground in the rest of the world, especially in China. Solar panel costs have dropped significantly, allowing for wider adoption. The following countries have invested heavily in renewables:

• China, $103 billion
• Japan, $36 billion
• United Kingdom, $22 billion
• India, $10.2 billion
• Germany, $8.5 billion
• Brazil; $7.1 billion

It should be noted that while renewable energy is no longer considered to be alternative, these type of stocks can be volatile. This is mostly because China gives its renewable energy manufacturers large subsidies to operate. It is also due to subsidy issues still being worked out in other countries.

The solar panel industry has seen many peaks and valleys since 2007. It reached a peak when the price of oil rose to $150 per barrel and dropped to a crushing low when Chinese solar panel makers flooded the market in 2012. Currently, the share prices are up, and the industry is making a remarkable recovery at a time when oil prices are relatively low and stable.

Even with its ups and downs, the renewable energy market is not going to move backward or disappear in the near future.