I did a little research into a pet peeve of mine, solar power. I always say that it is a joke to say that solar can't replace oil. Everybody who has played with a magnifying glass in the sunlight knows what a powerful energy source the sun is. I recently stumbled across my steam powered turbine idea as someone else's old news. Like those Tivo DVR commercials where the guy says he came up with the idea for DVR first.
Turns out there are already power plants in use around the world that use solar concentrators rather than over priced and inefficient solar panels AKA photovoltaics. To my delight I also googled practical home applications that you can have installed and more importantly, schematics and instructions on how to build some of these things yourself.
I'm going to read through the projects on these pages and pick one as my first solar project.
Concentrating Solar Collectors
Solar Cooking and Food Drying and Solar Stills and Root Cellars
Build a Solar Cooker
Looks like I can get away with a discreet solar cooker project without attracting anyone's attention. I think I've seen people doing solar barbeque and I remember thinking to myself either they are nuts or they just love putting aluminum foil over everything. I guess it's going to be my turn to wear the tin foil hat.