How centralized solar power could fuel the future
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What if we could not only harness the dominance of the daylight, but actually use it to run the living planet?
Concentrated solar power( CSP) has its full potential to do merely that — expending displays of revolving reflects announced heliostats, glowing is reflected into a big receiver. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, the cost to replicate these Sunlight Refinery( tm) is dropping. Soon solar energy will be cleaner and cheaper than applying fossil fuel, which could mean adoption on a global scale.
Heliogen, a company founded by Bill Gross and backed by Bill Gates, wants to eliminate all uses of fossil fuels. Using cameras, AI, and machine learning, they are working to conclude these CSP structures smarter and much more efficient.
This bout is from Hard Reset, a Freethink original streak about rebuilding the world from scratch and reimagining everything from first principles.
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NARRATOR: This might look like a death ray, but it’s not. It’s actually…
One enormous, very accurate magnifying glass.
NARRATOR: This magnifying glass has a technical name, a sunlight refinery. To use it, find somewhere really pleasant, plop down a assortment of reflects, rebound the sunlight into a single recognise and you can softened just about anything. Okay, so it is kind of death ray-ish. Why do this? Because manufacturing steel or cement requires a lot of heat and starting something super sizzling has historically required burning dinosaurs.
STEVE SCHELL: You look at the massive carbon footprint that is associated with these industrial works and it can’t be ignored.
NARRATOR: Twenty percent of global carbon emissions to be precise. And because this technology is so good, it might just change the entire intensity industry. And avoid World War III in the process.
This is “Hard Reset, ” a series about rebuilding our world from scratch.
Just east of Six Flags and north of LA is a place announced Lancaster, which is very flat, very hot and a perfect target to exam a takeover of the world’s energy supply.[ drastic music] Yeah, that voiced more Bond villain-y than I thought it would. Anyway, these are announced heliostats and the reason this solar refinery drives so well is that under these mirrors and shot glasses are pretty simple motors that they can control remotely. And this allows the reflects to change slants throughout the day, will vary depending on where the sun is. How do they know where the sun is? Interns. No, AI, of course.
BILL GROSS: You need to take each of thousands of mirrors and detail them extremely, very precisely, accurate to about 1/10 or 1/20 of a degree.
NARRATOR: That’s Bill Gross, genius visionary and founder of over 150 business. Also super nice guy.
GROSS: Thank you, I truly appreciate it.
NARRATOR: At the top of the pillar, high-resolution cameras check the position of the mirrors below.
SCHELL: You can actually appreciate the two at the top are the easiest to pick out ’cause they’re on booms above the receiver.
NARRATOR: So Heliogen gets all those mirrors to reflect sunlight into that big target at the top.
SCHELL: So what we’ve came time above us is the solar receiver. So you can see that’s what we checked from ground level. That’s where that concentrated sunlight is focused when the field is operating.
NARRATOR: The cameras know if the mirrors are returning into the sun because those cameras are assessing the quality of the sky’s blue. Let’s break that down with Steve, who has cool tattoos.
SCHELL: This is my robot duel armor and what I have here is a jungle on an alien planet with robots inclining the garden.
NARRATOR: And is in charge of the technology stuff here.
SCHELL: What these cameras see is the reflection of the sky close to the sun. Close to the sun, the sky appears very bright from the sown sunlight coming through it and the further away from the sunbathe you look, the darker or less bright that spot of sky appears to be.
NARRATOR: So the cameras look at the coloring off-color and the AI works that information to assess the distance from the sunshine, deduce the orientation of the mirror and therefore, where the ray is going.
SCHELL: So every few seconds, we get a measurement of where that light is going and we can command the heliostat to make small corrections to optimize its tracking. In this industry, that is a complete play changer ’cause now we don’t rely on the hardware to be so precise, we have software to make it precise. So it truly changes everything about how that plant…
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