Heliogen, the clean energy startup backed by Bill Gates, announced it achieved high temperatures in solar energy to replace energy needed by steel, cement or petrochemical production.

This is the first time commercially that solar energy has hit temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius. This now makes the technology applicable in industrial processes it has never been used for before. These industrial processes include cement, steel and petrochemical production. The company is based in Lancaster, California. The breakthrough happened at their commercial facility there.

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The company’s mission, according to their press release, is ” to create the world’s first technology that can commercially replace fossil fuels with carbon-free, ultra-high temperature heat from the sun and to transform sunlight into fuels at scale – taking a major step towards solving climate change.” Heliogen counts Bill Gates as an investor.

Cement production, according to Heliogen, is responsible for 7% of the world’s global CO2 emissions. If Heliogen can replace this with solar energy, significant reductions will occur.

Said Bill Gross, Heliogen CEO and Founder, and Founder and Chairman, Idealab, of the breakthrough, “We’ve made great strides in deploying clean energy in our electricity system. But electricity accounts for less than a quarter of global energy demand. Heliogen represents a technological leap forward in addressing the other 75 percent of energy demand: the use of fossil fuels for industrial processes and transportation.”

“Today, industrial processes like those used to make cement, steel, and other materials are responsible for more than a fifth of all emissions….I’m pleased to have been an early backer of Bill Gross’s novel solar concentration technology. Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest to one day replace fossil fuel,” added Bill Gates, investor in Heliogen.

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Read more about solar energy in One Green Planet. And read about Bill Gates’ upcoming book on climate change.

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