Areportby the International Energy Agency says thatsolar could provide more than 16% of total energy use for heating and 17% for cooling. It would eliminate 800 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions a year; it would also save money since heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in an average U.S. home.

Meeting that goal would include using solar collectors for hot water and space heating, low-temperature process heat in industry and heating for swimming pools, IEA Executive DirectorMaria van der Hoevensaid. It would also require a “rapid expansion of solar hot water heating in the building sector, including in solar-supported district heating, as well as in industrial applications.”