A clean energy startup called Heliogen emerged from stealth mode in announcing a new solar breakthrough aimed at fighting climate change. The Bill Gates-backed company is the first to find a way for renewable energy to penetrate industrial processes such as cement, glass, and steelmaking. Heliogen combines artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect such an extreme amount of sunlight that it can generate heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius, enough concentrated solar power to replace fossil fuels in those industries. “We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail.”
While concentrated solar power has been used before, it has never reached the heat levels required to make cement or steel. Heliogen believes that its technology will be able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cement alone accounts for 7 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. The company says it will now focus on applying its breakthrough on a larger scale and then try to convince industrial energy producers to replace their old methods with this new and improved alternative.