Rio Tinto announced today that it plans to use the innovative solar technology of the startup company Heliogen, which is financed by Bill Gates, and which is engaged in the production of clean energy and plans to set up experimental fields in the Mojave Desert.
“In an attempt to bring carbon-free electricity into heavy industry, Heliogen has announced that mining giant Rio Tinto plans to use the startup’s innovative solar technology at California’s largest surface mine, located in Boron,” the statement said.
It is added that they say from Heliogen that this will be the first concentrated solar energy plant in the United States, and perhaps in the world, which one mine will use for the plant.
Heliogen will reportedly use artificial intelligence and as many as 40,000 computer-controlled mirrors to collect solar energy, something like a smart magnifying glass.
The first system to be used by Rio Tinto will be the size of about 100 football fields, the authorities in Heliogen told CNN Business.
The startup points out that their Helio Heat technology can produce an extremely high temperature, of about 1,000 degrees Celsius, or about a quarter of the temperature of the Sun’s surface.
It is, as it is stated, the temperature that is needed for making cement, steel and other industrial processes, such as mining, which usually relies on fossil fuels as a source of energy for its work.
With that announcement, Rio Tinto (RIO), the second largest mining company in the world, is reportedly becoming Heliogen’s first official client.
This partnership will be a key test that will show whether Heliogen technology is really able to replace fossil fuels used as energy for large industrial jobs, which could significantly help in the fight against climate change.
“It’s not that this technology wasn’t possible before, it just wasn’t cost-effective,” founder and CEO Bill Gross told CNN Business.
He added that “what represents Heliogen’s pioneering step is enabling concentrated solar energy to function even when the sun sets and to be cost-effective compared to fossil fuels.”
Both companies said that this partnership will create the conditions for Rio Tinto to reduce its carbon footprint, while at the same time reducing energy costs.
“Our goal is to provide Rio Tinto with energy that is completely carbon-free, with zero emissions, and that costs less than fossil fuels,” Gross said.
The introduction of clean energy in the mine, which is almost a hundred years old, the company Heliogen, financed by Bill Gates and billionaire from the bio-technology industry Patrick Sun-Shiong, was launched at the end of 2019 by announcing a pioneering step in solar energy production.
For the first time, concentrated solar energy could be used as a replacement for fossil fuels used in industrial processes.
Last year, Time magazine reportedly included Heliogen’s HelioHeat technology on the “Best Inventions of 2020” list.
It is pointed out that Heliogen is teaming up with the mining giant Rio Tinto to start using this innovative technology.
Rio Tinto plans to use Heliogen’s platform to help supply energy to a nearly century-old pine mine in California.
Boron is a mineral used in fertilizer, for heat-resistant glass for smartphones and laptops, for arrays of solar panels and wind turbines.
“The mine, located in Boron, supplies almost half of the world’s demand for processed pine,” Rio Tinto stated.
The companies said the application of this technology could reduce carbon emissions in Boron by about seven percent, which is equivalent to removing more than 5,000 cars from the streets.
Heliogen’s system will receive and store clean energy to power night operations at the mine.
If the initial installation of Heliogen is successful, Rio Tinto b is said to be able to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by up to 24 percent by increasing the use of this technology.
The companies said they would soon begin detailed planning and obtaining the necessary permits, with the goal of launching the Heliogen platform next year and exploring the possibility of introducing other mines managed by Rio Tinto around the world.
The Anglo-Australian multinational company hopes that Heliogen will help it achieve its goal, reducing carbon emissions by half by 2030 compared to the 2010 level.
Last year, the process heat provided by Heliogen accounted for 14 percent of Rio Tinto’s direct and indirect emissions, known as 1st and 2nd scope emissions.
“The partnership with Heliogen has the potential to significantly reduce our emissions in Boron, thanks to the use of this revolutionary solar technology,” said Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm.
Rio Tinto has pledged to invest about $ 1 billion in programs to reduce emissions by 2025, and the partnership with Heliogen represents a multimillion-dollar investment, Gross said, although the exact amount has not yet been confirmed.
The use of mirrors to reflect the sun was previously reportedly used to produce electricity and generate heat for industry.
In Oman, it is used to generate carbon-free energy that is used for drilling to extract oil.
Heliogen, it is stated, claims that their technology can go a step further with the help of artificial intelligence and other sophisticated technology by directing thousands of mirrors to one point, which would create much higher temperatures than was possible before.