Heliogen, a provider of AI-enabled concentrated solar energy, has taken further steps toward deployment of its new solar energy technology with Woodside Energy (USA) Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian energy producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd.
Woodside has granted Heliogen a limited notice to proceed (LNTP) to begin procurement of key equipment for a 5 MW commercial-scale demonstration facility in California. The proposed facility will use Heliogen’s AI-enabled concentrated solar technology.
The issuance of the LNTP marks a step in the collaboration and follows a joint six-month feasibility study by Woodside and Heliogen and a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract that commenced earlier in 2021. The companies expect full notice to proceed and construction to begin in 2022.
Heliogen’s technology is a modular, turnkey system that aims to deliver clean energy with nearly 24/7 availability. The facility will utilize advanced computer vision software that precisely aligns an array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a single target on the top of a solar tower, thereby enabling low-cost storage in the form of high-temperature thermal energy. Heliogen’s customers can opt to build on the baseline system that provides industrial-grade heat by adding thermal energy storage systems, a turbine for power generation and electrolyzers for green hydrogen production.
“Heliogen’s innovative technology could play a key supporting role in development of Woodside’s zero-carbon hydrogen and ammonia business, which would rely on access to abundant and reliable renewable power,” says Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill. “We are also excited about the marketing rights for Heliogen’s technology in Australia, where our abundant solar energy resources support application of this technology in remote power generation and other industrial processes.”
The two companies also announced their intent to jointly market Heliogen’s technology in the U.S. and Australia. Under the proposed joint marketing arrangement, the companies will consider establishing a roadmap to collaborate on additional potential renewable energy projects, including replicating and scaling Heliogen’s modular, AI-enabled concentrated solar facility to support Woodside’s forecasted power requirements at its international locations. The arrangements under discussion include a framework to design, optimize and sell modularized industrial-scale and cost-competitive integrated renewable energy and hydrogen solutions in the US, and marketing rights for Woodside in Australia.
“Heliogen’s AI-enabled concentrated solar technology has the potential to transform heavy industry by turning sunlight into a zero-carbon source of heat, power and hydrogen that is nearly always available,” comments Heliogen’s CEO and founder, Bill Gross. “Although costs of large-scale solar are falling, conventional solar technologies are not yet cost-competitive with fossil fuels in most energy markets due to their intermittent availability.”
“Heliogen’s technology aims to close this gap through the use of AI, software and thermal storage,” adds Gross. “As the energy sector is ripe for applications of green hydrogen fuels and decarbonization strategies, Woodside is an ideal collaborator for our breakthrough solar technology, which will support the operational characteristics of heavy industry.”