Updated from April 16

Oil, natural gas, solar or ethanol?

Stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs)?

Ready to "expose" your portfolio to energy? But don't know where to start?

Here is the latest from

TheStreet.com

on the potential opportunities and risks in energy investing.

From

Cramer's 'Mad Money Recap': A Natural Gas Gem

:

El Paso

(EP)

owns and operates the largest natural gas pipeline in the U.S. and has one of the largest exploration and production operations in the country.

Cramer said that El Paso's two businesses -- exploration and production on one hand and pipeline on the other -- have made the company confusing to many investors and have been keeping its share price down. But he said there has been talk of the company splitting its two businesses and unleashing its hidden value.

The stock has been largely overlooked because it has risen only 3% this year compared with an average of 30% for its peers.

Regardless of whether the company splits or stays together, Cramer says both businesses are "on fire."

Read the full article.

Plus, don't miss

Cramer: Make Money With Natural Gas

(Video).

From

Best Stocks to Make Money Off Ethanol

:

1)

VeraSun Energy

(VSE)

is the largest publicly-traded ethanol stock. Now that its merger with US BioEnergy is completed the combined entity will have a capacity to produce 1.64 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

Read the full article.

Cramer: Speculation Not Fueling Oil

(Video)

The rise in oil prices and commodities has to do with worldwide demand, says Jim Cramer.

Watch the video.

From

Cramer's 'Mad Money Recap': Green Stocks Hit Pay Dirt

:

Cramer said that green has worked well and will continue to work because of rising oil prices. "We correctly anticipated that oil would be up huge, $125 is still our price target," he said. "It's high oil prices that have driven up everything related to clean energy. This is the trend behind the trend. I don't think it's going away."

First Solar

(FSLR) - Get Report

has been the biggest winner, up 367.8% since April 17 of last year. "I have been the strongest backer of this stock out there, and I remain so," he said. "It will be the standard of this country no matter which presidential candidate wins, as it already is the standard in Germany."

Read the full article.

Plus, don't miss

Cramer: First Solar Is the Bomb

(Video).

From

Big Movers Among Utility Funds

The best-performing utility fund this week

ending April 17 is the

Ultra Utilities ProShares

(UPW) - Get Report

, gaining 6.96%. The fund is 200% leveraged to the Dow Jones U.S. Utilities Index. The second-place

ProFunds Utilities UltraSector ProFund

(UTPSX) - Get Report

tracks the same index, but at 150% leverage. The four largest holdings are

Exelon

(EXC) - Get Report

,

Southern Union

(SUG)

,

Dominion Resources

(D) - Get Report

and

FPL Group

(FPL) - Get Report

.

Read the full article.

Energy Stocks Still Have Earning Power

(Video)

A growing number of Wall Street analysts are saying energy stocks are ready for a big pullback. Keith Walter, co-manager of the

Julius Baer Global Equity Fund

(BJGQX)

, says it's only the beginning with coal, oil and natural gas shares headed higher.

Watch the video.

From

Profits Climb at Baker Hughes

:

Oil-services firm

Baker Hughes

(BHI)

announced Tuesday

April 22 that its earnings in the first quarter rose 5% over the same period last year, beating analyst estimates.

Higher-than-expected revenue from its North American segment was cited as the primary reason behind the earnings gain.

Read the full article.

From

10 Ways the World Could End and How to Play Them

:

We run out of oil.

The Middle East would plunge into chaos, industry would grind to a halt. Super investors T. Boone Pickens and Peter Thiel are already on top of this oil issue and placing their bets accordingly.

Read the full article.

From

New Solar ETF Helps Spread Sector's Risk

:

Claymore Securities just listed the

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy Index ETF

(TAN) - Get Report

, and it seems to have potential. Solar has been an interesting place to invest because of the importance of the products and the wild volatility in both directions that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

It should be clear from the chart of the top three holdings, First Solar,

Renewable Energy Corp.

of Norway and

Q-Cells

of Germany, that the names underlying the fund are unambiguously volatile.

The fund really is global: China is the largest country represented in the fund, at 29.91%, followed by Germany at 29.01% and the U.S. at 26.33%. Still, ex-U.S., TAN invests in only five countries.

Read the full article.

From

XTO Buys Marcellus Shale Stake

:

XTO Energy

(XTO)

announced Tuesday

April 15 that it will acquire 152,000 net acres of leasehold in the Appalachian basin from

Linn Energy

(LINE)

for $600 million.

The deal marks XTO's move into the white-hot Marcellus Shale play stretching from West Virginia through Pennsylvania to the outskirts of New York City. Some geologists say the Marcellus could produce more than 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The potential windfall has ignited a land-rush that the domestic oil and gas industry hasn't seen the likes of in years.

Read the full article.

From

Cheap Oil-Services Stocks

:

One overlooked announcement recently illustrates why oil-services stocks should continue to draw investor attention for a longer period than previously anticipated.

PetroBras

(PBR) - Get Report

announced it had awarded a $4 billion contract to

Noble Corp.

(NE) - Get Report

for five deep-water drilling rigs, nearly doubling Noble's backlog to $10 billion. The Noble announcement extends a current arrangement but on much better terms, as Noble indicated in its press release.

What's going on here?

The current supply of deep-water drilling equipment is running at full capacity.

Deep-water drilling-rig day rates continue to hit new highs. Globally, exploration companies are going into deeper and deeper waters to find oil. But there are a limited number of deep-water rigs.

Read the full article.

Cramer: One Way to Play 'Beat the Street'

(Video)

Oil services is a great play for

TheStreet.com's

'Beat the Street' game

, says Jim Cramer.

Watch the video.

Plus, play

'Beat the Street'

at

beat.thestreet.com

.

From

Weigh Your Options With Energy ETFs

:

The

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration Index

(IEO) - Get Report

, a tracker for the Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration & Production Index. It holds stocks of companies involved in domestic exploration and production of oil and natural gas, such as

Apache

(APA) - Get Report

,

Chesapeake Energy

(CHK) - Get Report

and

Occidental Petroleum

(OXY) - Get Report

. The fund uses a capitalization approach to weight its holdings, and its expense ratio is 0.48%.

The fund recently took a hit along with most energy equities, but it is one of the best performers in the space. Many energy stocks, including those of the major integrated energy companies and oil-service firms, have recently moved lower along with domestic equity indices on the notion that their operations would be affected by a slowdown in the global economy.

Read the full article.

From

Weigh Your Options With Energy ETFs, Part 2

:

Jeffrey Ptak, ETF analyst at Morningstar, says that the focused ETFs are riskier investments than the broader, diversified funds, primarily because they haven't been around as long. For example, the

Vanguard Energy ETF

(VDE) - Get Report

, a diversified ETF that is highly favored by many analysts, has generated consistent and dependable returns since its inception in September 2004, whereas the

Market Vectors Coal ETF

(KOL) - Get Report

has only been around since January.

"The proof is still in the pudding," Ptak says. "So far, nobody in the niche ETF space has built a better mousetrap than the broader diversified vehicles."

That's not to say that there aren't niche energy ETFs with strong performance records. However, investors who buy into these funds should understand the inherent risks and treat those holdings accordingly.

Read the full article.

China Watch Mail Bag: LDK Solar Not So Hot

(Video)

One reader wants to know whether now is a good time to add to his

LDK Solar

(LDK)

position.

Watch the video.

From

Can Energy, Ag Continue To Surge?

:

It isn't a slam-dunk that energy stocks will move in lock step with their underlying commodities. Historical data predict that these issues will follow the futures markets in quiet times but track the equity indices in wild times. This occurs because macro forces affecting the broad stock universe can affect sector profitability despite a booming oil market. With this two-sided relationship, I look for energy stocks to gravitate toward index leadership whenever the Market Volatility Index rises above 25. This indicator closed at 23.82 in Monday's

April 14 session after ticking higher for the last two days. So it's nearing the critical level where equities might decouple with the futures markets.

Read the full article.

McCain's Gas Tax Cut Helps Consumers and Refiners

(Video)

Charles Marvin and John Fout discuss whether or not John McCain's gas tax cut would help hurting consumers.

Watch the video.

Travelers Shrug Off Hotel Gas Refunds

(Video)

Farnoosh Torabi asks tourists about whether they'd be enticed to travel by car if hotels offered gas refunds.

Watch the video.

To stay up to date on energy, bookmark and visit

TheStreet.com's

Energy/Commodities section

.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.