Light from the sun can reach us with an intensity of more than 1,000 watts for every square metre. As the earth's major source of energy it has been used since the birth of our planet to heat and light us. Since the 1980s there have been technologies to harness solar energy for power production. These use photovoltaic panels, and then utilise pumps, and fans to convert sunlight into electricity. Passive use of sunlight to warm water and buildings goes back much further in human history and is now aided by energy smart design and technology.
New Zealand gets around 2,000 sunshine hours a year (from 2,400 in Blenhiem down to 1,600 in Invercargill) and the potential for solar power is huge given it is a constant and radiant source of renewable energy.