Over a decade ago, the majority of the large scale solar projects announced, in the queue across the US and backed by major PE firms were not the flat panel PV farms we now see covering the landscape. No, the majority of solar when I entered the industry at the turn of the first decade of this century was concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) and it’s a technology that is both highly promising and has been highly fraught with challenges. As China leaned into building large manufacturing complexes around crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, the economics of CSP evaporated, seemingly overnight. Many today would likely tell you that CSP is, well, Dead.
Christie Obiaya would like to tell you a different story, one that illuminates the reality that timing is everything, and as so often is the case, CSP was a promising technology that was pushed into the limelight before software was available to provide the kinds of tight controls necessary to really make it feasible at scale. Obiaya is the CEO of Heliogen, a company that utilizes a distinctive combination of concentrated solar thermal technology (CSP), AI, and novel hardware to precisely capture heat for long duration energy storage (10+ hours) and essentially create a thermal battery, or, as she refers to it, a “solar refinery”.
This discussion provides an inside look at how Heliogen leverages advancements in GPUs, AI and more to decarbonize hard-to-abate industrial sectors, and what this means for our broader fight against climate change. Learn about Christie Obiaya’s inspiring journey, her perspective on the future of renewable energy, and some of Heliogen’s current and future projects that strategically positions them in a competitive domestic clean energy market.