In the 1760s Horace de Saussure noticed that any room with glass windows gets hot when sun rays pass through it so he built a glass box that was insulated with a thermometer inside two smaller glass boxes inside of that one. This was the scientific discovery of thermal energy when the sunrays passed the glass but the glass did not allow the heat back out. The box got to 228F and 109C. In the 19th century, people cooked water on their stoves to heat water but that took wood or coal and it was a long task but the rich used coal gas but had to light it every time they wanted hot water and if forgotten to be put out it would blow up so average people put water into black tanks and let it sit out in the sun which was the first water tank invented. In 1891 Clarence Temp combined the metal containers which got hot and make the water hot, with the idea of a glass hotbox. He called it the Climax which was a solar water heater that was able to trap the heat after the sun went down unlike the original black metal containers which could not trap the heat in for long. This sold well in sunny states such as California. Later William J Bailey found a way for the hot water to last all thought and night and into the next morning by storing the hot water separately. From then the invention was improved through the world, which eventually led to todayís solar panels.
"Electric cooperative R&D projects were established to install and monitor small wind and solar (less than 25 kilowatts) systems and share the performance data on-line with students, interested cooperative members, and the general public. Projects include a wind turbine at Indian Lake High School in Logan County and a solar panel at Butler Rural Electric Cooperative in Oxford."http://www.buckeyepower.com/renewables
"Solar technology has reached its most convenient, lightweight form: the newly-engineered flexible solar panel. Silicon Solar is the proud carrier of over 50 modules of flexible solar panels, offered in a variety of sizes. Through recent developments, Silicon Solar has provided ways of listing thin, light weight, flexible solar panels allowing for multiple applications to now be solar accessible that never were before. Thin Film solar cells and panels now allow for several types of application to be introduced into the market including solar backpacks, solar thin film clothing and athletic apparel. We at Silicon Solar have taken these methods to the extreme and receive requests from customers who give us incentive and constructive feedback on developing new ways of utilizing this technology not only for them, but for you as well. Each flexible solar panel can be rolled up to 2 inches in diameter, making the paper thin solar cell one of the most durable and long lasting solar modules on the market."http://www.siliconsolar.com/flexible-solar-panels.html
"The high concentration array is used to provide the high temperatures needed to produce SolarGas, a syngas mixture that contains 25 per cent more energy than the natural gas feeding into the process. Solar hydrogen can potentially be extracted from this SolarGas. SolarGas and solar hydrogen provide all the benefits of solar energy with the convenience of gas, and in this way enable solar energy to be stored and transported. The technology also serves as a transitional route toward higher levels of solar penetration into the energy mix."http://www.csiro.au/places/Solar-Energy-Centre.html
Thermal energy has enhanced scientific knowledge and the intention of new things. They are currently researching solar ponds, which have salt on the bottom which heats up the water and can be used as energy since salt is cheap. Thermo generators are also being used now which turns excess heat from engines or other things into energy. A problem with solar energy that it being researched is that it is not available at night, so ways of storing the energy is being improved. Scientist found that molten salt is a good way of storing energy because salt is cheap. Solar satellites in space arenít affected by night or day, arenít affected by seasons, or by bad weather on earth, as well as being 10x stronger in space. Getting this power back to earth to use is being researched currently.