New invention hailed as the “Holy Grail” of solar energy and “game changer” for the planet
A clean energy-startup just announced a technological breakthrough in solar energy that could finally put fossil fuel to rest.
The company Heliogen has developed a solar oven that reach temperatures a quarter as hot as the surface of the sun.
That means solar energy just became powerful enough to fuel industrial processes it couldn’t touch before.
Until now, the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial materials could not be generated efficiently by solar.
But now, the scientists at Heliogen have figured out how to create a 1000-degree-celcius solar oven with a field of mirrors all aimed at a single point.
It’s not an entirely new technology, but a fairly primitive one, until now.
What Heliogen has added is artificial intelligence capable of aligning the mirrors so exactly that no light is lost and intense heat is generated.
Computer vision software, automatic edge detection and other sophisticated tools have made the technology so efficient that solar energy can finally be generated more cheaply than fossil fuel.
“We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Heliogen’s CEO Bill Gross told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail.”
“I’m pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross’s novel solar concentration technology,” Gates said in a statement. “Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel.”
We “have truly now harnessed the sun,” added billionaire Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who also helped fund the project.
“The potential to humankind is enormous. The potential to business is unfathomable.”
Next, the company plans to adapt the technology to generate hydrogen, a zero-emissions fuel that could be used for cars, trucks and airplanes.
“If you can make hydrogen that’s green, that’s a gamechanger,” said Gross. “Long term, we want to be the green hydrogen company.”