Photo: Rooftop solar panels
Energy from the sun (solar energy) is used in two different types of solar energy systems.

Solar thermal 
Solar thermal systems (including solar water heaters) use the sun’s energy to heat water for residential use (up to 160°F); industrial use, including air conditioning (170-350°F); or electricity generation (350-2000°F). Tens of thousands of solar water heaters are in use in Hawaii. There is one solar thermal electricity production facility at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) in Kona, Hawaii.

Photovoltaic systems do not have the moving parts or steam production found in most other electricity generation systems. Instead, the sunlight shines on the solar cell and causes an electric current to be generated directly. Thousands of photovoltaic systems are in use in Hawaii. Some generate power for use on-site (on residential, commercial, and other buildings); other (larger) systems generate power that is provided directly to electric utilities.

Percentage of electricity
generated by solar, 2015
8% Nationwide rank of cumulative
installed PV capacity per capita,
Power density
of PV array
watts per
square foot
Levelized cost of PV, Hawaii utility scale ~13‐14.5¢ /
Installed cost, U.S.,
$3.29 / W Installed cost, U.S.,
$1.80 / W
Statewide 2014 construction
expenditures attributed to
7.4% Acres per megawatt
(Hawaii, utility‐scale)
3.3 – 7.2


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For information and data on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Hawaii, download Hawaii Energy Facts & Figures, November 2016 Edition.

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