The Los Angeles-based company Heliogen, founded by serial entrepreneur and inventor Bill Gross, sustained by investors including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, announced that it developed a way to create concentrated solar energy at temperatures hot enough to replace fossil fuels in industrial processes.
Using a computer technology to align a large array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a precise target, they obtained heat exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit). Heliogen said it believes its technology is on track to ultimately produce temperatures up to 1,500 degrees Celsius. The innovation was presented as a “major step towards solving climate change” that could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes.
Heliogen solar installation in Lancaster
„What we’re doing is using cameras to stare at the field, and in real time at 30 frames a second, observe the position of every mirror and make fine-tuned adjustments to it, to make sure all the beams are overlapping, precisely,” Bill Gross explained. “If we’re going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot of inventing to do. I’m pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross’s novel solar concentration technology,” Bill Gates said in a Heliogen news release. The method developed by Heliogen could be also used to make hydrogen and other fossil-free fuels. Concentrated solar thermal plants have been in existence for decades, generating electrical power in locales ranging from California to Spain. But such plants typically achieve temperatures no higher than 600 degrees C (1,100 degrees F). So things changed with Heliogen.