Bill Gates backs start-up aiming to use sunlight as replacement for fossil fuels 

19th November 2019 

Heliogen is the first company to concentrate sunlight allowing it to reach temperatures that are high enough to power heavy industry without carbon emissions.

The world's richest man, Bill Gates, is backing a start-up company seeking to transform sunlight into a source of heat exceeding 1,000C, in the hopes that it could replace fossil fuels.

Its mission is to create the world’s first technology that can commercially replace fossil fuels in industrial processes with carbon-free, ultra-high temperature heat from the sun and to transform sunlight into fuels, including hydrogen, at scale. Heliogen was created at Idealab, the leading technology incubator.

The Guardian reports that the technology could even reach temperatures of 1,500C, enough to split hydrogen particles from water to create a fossil-free gas to warm homes, fuel cars and power factories.

Chief executive of Heliogen, based in California, said the company symbolises the leap technology has taken in mitigating emissions from industry and transport, making up 75 per cent of the world’s carbon footprint.

By using a specially programmed software, a large number of mirrors are aligned to reflect sunlight onto a target, creating a source of heat almost three times as intense as previous commercial solar systems.

The company’s CEO, Bill Gross, said that the technology can generate temperatures high enough to manufacture cement without emitting greenhouse gases.

Cement is the world third’s largest source of emissions, after oil and coil. Environmentalists express concern at the likelihood of cement production increasing significantly due to urbanisation in developing countries and economic growth.

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Gates has not held the position in over two years.

Bill Gates backs start-up aiming to use sunlight as replacement for fossil fuels