That got my attention. What other kind of solar power is there? We have been so inundated with advertising about photo voltaic power little attention has been given to solar thermal. Recently someone brought this application to my attention.
For a very informative article
On a more mundane scale low heat installations can be used effectively to heat water cook food and heat houses. Cost of installations are lower than PV and in terms of energy it is three time as effective in extracting energy from sunlight compared to PV.
Because I live in high latitudes where we have long dark winters I was extremely skeptical about solar cookers. Then I remembered an old time gadget called the hay box cooker. You heat up the food in a pot; then when it is up to temp you place the cook pot or Dutch oven in an insulated (hay) box to let the residual heat finish the cooking. Some limitations apply. This works better for slow simmer dishes. A seared steak on the BBQ is not going to work nor will stir fry. But steamed rice, potatoes, stews would work.
So you use solar heat during the day to generate the heat and let it simmer in an insulated box to finish. To store addition heat you could also heat up ceramic bricks with solar then place them alongside the Dutch oven pot inside the insulated box.
Passive solar homes have been promoted by architects for several decades. Various methods have been promoted to store heat for release overnight. This is another form of solar thermal just by another name. Some of these methods even lend themselves to retrofits on existing buildings not just new purpose built designs.
For some reason we have come to expect one solution fits all. This is not realistic. But if we can achieve something that displaces an expensive energy source for 50% of the time we have still reduced our annual expense.
The oil industry is even using solar power to recover more oil by heating water to steam and injecting the steam into the almost spent oil pool. More oil can be recovered this way.
Because solar thermal is less known here we have a steeper learning curve head of us.