The sun is an abundant energy source that’s freely available and renewable.
How solar energy works
We harness the sun’s energy in several ways. Passive solar design is the use of solar radiation to heat our buildings. Those that are specifically passive solar designed make best use of this. Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, generate electricity directly from sunlight. Another technology, solar water heating, uses the sun to heat water.
Pros and cons of solar energy
Solar technology is silent and unobtrusive, and can be used all around the country. The main barrier to its uptake is cost.
Large scale wind, geothermal and hydro are renewable options that generate electricity much more cheaply than domestic solar.
The future of solar energy
Solar generation is currently a small proportion of New Zealand’s energy supply, making up only 0.1% of our total renewable energy. Price reductions in solar PV equipment have made it more popular with homeowners and businesses, despite the fact that it generally remains more costly than grid-supplied electricity.
Solar PV is regarded as a ‘disruptive technology’ as it challenges the traditional model of electricity provision. Along with other disruptive technologies (such as advanced metering, smart devices, advanced batteries) it’s likely to contribute to changes in energy market design, energy policy and pricing structures in the future.