Electricity can be generated from sunlight via solar panels, solar thermal power stations, and solar towers.
Australia has abundant supplies of sunlight, but solar power - the use of sunlight to generate electricity - is not very developed in Australia.
Solar power is a less greenhouse-intensive alternative to coal power, but is currently more expensive than energy conservation measures, and other non-fossil fuel energy sources, as a way of reducing greenhouse emissions.
However, if the production of solar panels, and other solar power technology was ramped up, eg to meet large-scale government purchases, or government subsidised, private purchases, then costs per unit would come down.
Solar power has the advantage of generating energy close to where it is used, and so reduces the need for lengthy transmission lines and consequent energy loses.
The roof area of Australia's largely low-rise housing stock would provide more than enough electricity for current houshold needs, were these roofs to be convered with solar panels using existing technology.
Announced in June 1997, Million Solar Roofs is an initiative to facilitate the installation of solar energy systems on one million U.S. buildings by 2010. The initiative includes two types of solar technology: solar electric systems (or photovoltaics) that produce electricity from sunlight and solar thermal systems that produce heat for domestic hot water, space heating, or heating swimming pools.