Thermal solar power dates back to at least 400BC. In ancient times thermal solar power wasn’t known by this name, but the people built their homes in the side of hills and cliffs. They realized that during the day the sun would beat down on the surface of the hill or cliff and at night the earth would release this heat, keeping their dwelling warmer than it would have been otherwise. Using the sun to heat the dwellings was a very practical use of thermal solar power.
Over time the use of thermal solar power was still evident. For instance, the Greeks used glass windows to trap the heat of the sun in their dwellings. They were so certain of this process that the Greek people enacted laws prohibiting anyone from depriving their neighbors dwelling of the sunlight. The windows allowed the sun to fill the space, but then kept the dwelling warmer even after the sun went down.
Today thermal solar power is still alive and well, although much more technologically advanced than it was in 400BC. Today there are thermal solar power systems that allow for individuals to heat their water through solar power. The solar energy is collected and then it is used to heat the water so when hot water is needed it does not need to be provided by electric or gas.
In addition, thermal solar power is used to run machinery and even turbines. The hot water is pumped, creating all of the energy that is needed to run the machines or turbines, making them much more energy efficient.
Thermal solar power is also used by many different plants, including power plants. It has been found that the energy from the sun can be used to make steam that will provide power, displacing the need for many thousands of gallons of oil. In addition, large kitchens can use the steam created by thermal power to do most, if not all, of their cooking. These are very practical uses for thermal solar power that are already in use today!
As you can see, thermal solar power has many practical uses that are much more technologically advanced than it was in 400BC. The technology continues to advance with each passing year, and hopefully within the next decade the cost of these systems will drop that more and more people can take advantage of this renewable energy source.