Under the magnifying glass: A new type of solar energy
by Imogen Berryman
What's Going On Here?
Technology has been developed to produce carbon-free energy from the sun, powerful enough to rival fossil fuels. This is the first time renewable energy has been able to be used for powering heavy industries, such as the manufacturing of concrete, steel and petrochemicals.
What Does This Mean?
The technology is called ‘concentrated solar power’. It works by using A LOT of mirrors angled to reflect the sun's energy on to one target spot like a gas pipe and therefore heating it up.
The secret to Heliogen’s breakthrough is the use of high resolution cameras that look at the field of mirrors in real-time and control their angles to make sure they are angled with high precision. It’s this that has enabled temperatures of over 1,000 degrees celcius to be reached, finally making solar power a worthy opponent to fossil fuels.
Why Should We Care?
Previously only fossil fuels were able to produce energy powerful enough for ‘heavy industry’ processes responsible for ⅕ of global carbon emissions.
Fossil fuels are still dominating world energy usage with renewables only accounting for 25% of the world’s power output last year.
We did say that 2019 was the year for renewable energy… just sayin’!
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