Heliogen, provider of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants enabled with AI, reached the New York Stock Exchange on the last day of 2021 after completing a business combination with Athena Technology Acquisition Corp.
The deal resulted in roughly $188 million in gross cash proceeds to Heliogen, which now trades under the ticker HLGN. At the time of writing, HLGN has increased roughly 30% since its initial public offering (IPO).
The company develops and installs modular concentrated solar power plants, which use AI to precisely direct mirrors called heliostats to a collection tower. It also uses an autonomous system to install the heliostats with a high level of locational accuracy, and to clean and maintain the system.
The CSP collection tower stores electricity and heat, which has various applications that differ from traditional PV. One such application is the production of “green hydrogen”, which Heliogen developed in a collaborative demonstration project with Bloom Energy.
In the demonstration, Heliogen’s technology was paired with Bloom’s high-temperature electrolyzer to make hydrogen fuel. The company said hydrogen can be made 45% more efficiently than low-temperature electrolyzers. Electricity dictates nearly 80% of the cost of hydrogen from electrolysis but the CSP method reduces the need for electricity, using heat to aid its operations.
In December, Heliogen finalized a $39 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to deploy its technology in California. The company said it will apply the funds received from the DOE towards developing a commercial-scale facility.
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Hmm… Can CSP be competitive? I don’t see how. Pre-revenue IPO? Run away!
Slide 37 of their October 2021 Investor Presentation shows that in 2024 Heliogen will have $569 million in revenue on the sale of 15x 5 MW CSP “modules” – $7.58/W!!!
Now lets assume that this 5MW at 85% capacity factor – compared to $1/W installed utility PV at 28% capacity factor (from slide 20 of their presentation). So, let say we install 15 MW of tracked solar ($1.20/W) and a 70 MWhr battery ($120/ kWhr) – we would have 5MW output for 6.5 hrs a day and then enough solar to charge the battery for the other 14 hrs per day (matching the 85% capacity factor of the Heliogen system) – all for a price of 15*10^6*1.2 + 120*1000*70 = $26.3 million per equivalent 5 MW “module” – $5.27 /W !!!! – TODAY – in 2022 – not 2024!
So Heliogen’s plan is to sell a product 2 years from now that is 40% more expensive than an equivalent battery + PV system TODAY – at far greater technical and performance risk, and with a massive history of CSP underperformance and O&M issues as are recently detailed the in NREL CSP report “Concentrating Solar Power Best Practices Study” – https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy20osti/75763.pdf
Folks, this is a going to zero scenario – ZERO!!! Prove me wrong, please!
You are not far from the truth. Your rough calculation on daily basis is good but when refined to annual performance you will see that solar field and battery needs to be larger. Reaching 85% annual capacity with CSP and PV (both with storage) is very expensive with existing technologies (commercial). Also batteries at 120$/kWh ? Better compare LCoE values for pv and csp. This is more relevant to the investors. Based on the numbers that you gave in your analysis, for Heliogen LCoE for Capex only is 34$/MWh ( without O&M and for 30 years plant lifetime). Can you share the link of Heliogen investor presentation? Would like to see it.
I think my core issue is we need to project cost of PV + batt at 2-3 years from now, not today, and on that basis I don’t think HLGN makes much sense. Plus we are giving HLGN the benefit of the doubt on O&M, system and subsystem performance. I don’t think that is wise.
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