Heliogen: The Future of Renewable Energy

Cheap and renewable has never been closer together


Northeast Solar Energy Research Center by Brookhaven National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

“Northeast Solar Energy Research Center” by Brookhaven National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

By: Victor Cao, Journalist

Fossil fuels are by far the greatest contributor to global warming, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The sun has enough energy to power the entire world if it is evenly distributed. In 2013, Heliogen launched an impressive initiative, creating the first AI-enabled concentrated solar energy plant in California. Heliogen wanted to provide a sustainable, cost-effective method to replace the usage of fossil fuels.

How it works:

Using advanced computer vision software to precisely align an array of mirrors, which reflect the sunlight to a target on the top of a tower, Heliogen receives temperatures of over 2700 degrees Fahrenheit. This test batch of 400 mirrors produces more than three times as much as full-sized solar power plants. This is made possible through state-of-the-art technology. Using AI and cameras, these mirrors are adjusted to the most effective position hundreds of times per day, sometimes by as little as a twentieth of a degree.

What is the purpose of this energy?

This increase in temperature has allowed solar energy to expand beyond just electricity. While electricity is the focus, energy could be created in any form, such as heat, power, or hydrogen fuel. Another major use for this heat is the decarbonization of limestone and other substances. The major problem with solar energy is that you can only get energy during the day. However, Heliogen thinks it has a solution. Storing the extra heat into rocks, which can stay hot for several days,

The Future of Heliogen:

Heliogen was selected in October 2022 to receive a $4,100,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate development for the company. Heliogen was also named one of the world’s top fifty most innovative companies of 2022. Heliogen continues to attempt to make the process even more efficient.

Related Stories: 

Heliogen is developing a concentrated solar solution utilizing unique advanced computer vision software to precisely align an array of mirrors, et al. “Replacing Fossil Fuels with Concentrated Sunlight.” Heliogen, https://heliogen.com/, 16 November 2022.

Castaneda, Vanessa. “Heliogen Selected for U.S. Department of Energy Award to Demonstrate First-of-Its-Kind Design for Decarbonizing Cement Manufacturing.” Heliogen, Oct. 24, 2022, https://heliogen.com/heliogen-selected-for-a-U.S.-Department-of-Energy-award-to-demonstrate/.

Castaneda, Vanessa. “Heliogen and Dimensional Energy Announce First-of-Its-Kind Collaboration to Produce Carbon-Free Sustainable Aviation Fuel from Concentrated Sunlight and Green Hydrogen.” Heliogen, Aug. 8, 2022, https://heliogen.com/heliogen-and-dimensional-energy-announce-first-of-its-kind-collaboration-to-produce-carbon-free, sustainable aviation fuel from concentrated sunlight and green hydrogen/.

“After a Successful Demonstration, Heliogen and Bloom Energy Lead the Way to Produce Low-Cost, Green Hydrogen.”Heliogen, 16 Nov. 2021, https://heliogen.com/heliogen-and-bloom-energy-lead-the-way-to-produce-low-cost-green-hydrogen-following-a-successful-demonstration/.

Heliogen. “Heliogen Named to Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2022es for 2022” Heliogen, 8 Mar. 2022, https://heliogen.com/heliogen-named-to-fast-companys-annual-list-of-the-worlds-50-most-innovative-companies-for-2022/.