Replacing fossil fuels with solar
In California’s Mojave Desert, over 400 mirrors direct highly-concentrated sunlight at a control tower, which converts it into ultra-high temperature heat of up to 1,500°C.
This is Heliogen’s array of ‘heliostats’, a mirror array that’s designed to produce completely carbon-free process heat for industrial applications, such as cement and steel production.
The company, which recently won FastCompany’s 2020 World Changing Ideas award for energy, uses machine vision to constantly adjust the heliostats’ position, ensuring they’re always collecting the optimum amount of solar energy. The heat can even be used to thermo-chemically split water for 100% green hydrogen.
With this project now reaching commercial viability, its leaders are aiming to provide a sustainable, cost-efficient alternative to fossil fuel use in industry.
But to make this leap from proof of concept to go-to resource, the distribution networks and usage models need to evolve alongside innovations like these, increasingly using the power of data to maximise the impact.