Heliogen is using artificial intelligence to increase the efficiency of concentrated solar power. Unlike the more common solar PV setups, where each panel converts sunlight to energy, concentrated solar power uses arrays of mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a single small point. It then warms up a transport liquid to create a “super-heated system” that can be used to generate electricity or power industrial processes—like steel and cement production—that require higher temperatures than other renewable energy sources can provide.
Concentrated solar power itself is not a new technology, but it has previously been expensive to use because of how precisely the mirrors had to be manufactured and installed. Heliogen’s AI approach removes the need for this costly precision:
[To] address the calibration and control challenges of small heliostats, we’ve developed and patented an innovative computer vision closed-loop tracking control system. This allows heliostats to be installed and manufactured in a relatively imprecise manner because the control system can detect and correct their actual tracking position in real-time during operation.
Heliogen has commercialized this HelioMax technology into two products: HelioHeat (heat up to 1500°C for industrial processes) and HelioFuel (green hydrogen production). Their overall mission is to reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources by “replacing fuels with sunlight.” Read more about Heliogen here: