The energy of the sun can be harnessed in many ways
You can use the sun's thermal energy to warm water or space through:
- Thoughtful building design to capture and store solar heat
- Use of solar water heating which uses the energy of the sun to heat water.
You can use energy available in sunlight to generate electricity directly through:
- Photovoltaic panels which use semiconductors to generate electricity
- Concentrator solar power technologies which use mirrors to focus the sun's thermal energy, and use super-heated steam to drive a turbine to generate electricity.
Promoting solar energy use
Around 1.6% of homeowners in New Zealand have now installed solar water heating systems, and currently there are around 3400 new solar water heating systems installed each year. This number is growing at around 30-40% annually.