Heliogen, a clean energy company that came out of stealth mode Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees.
Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven – one that can reach temperatures that are about a quarter of what you find on the sun's surface.
The breakthrough means that for the first time concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavily carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
"We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and neither do CO2 emissions," Bill Gross, Heliogen's founder and CEO, told CNN Business. "And that's really the holy grail."
"Bill and the team have really taken advantage of the sun now," said Soon-Shiong, who also sits on the Heliogen board, CNN Business. "The potential for humanity is enormous. … The potential for business is without reason."
"You've come up with technologies that can't really deliver super-heated systems," said Olav Junttila, a partner at Greentech Capital Advisors, a clean energy investment bank that has advised concentrated solar companies in the past.
Using artificial intelligence to solve the climate crisis
"I am happy to have been an early supporter of Bill Gross's new solar concentration technology," Gates said in a statement. "Its capacity to achieve the high temperatures required for these processes is a promising development in the quest for a day to replace fossil fuels."