The 90,000-square-foot facility is located in the Douglas Park business campus next to Long Beach Airport; full operation is expected by 2025, according to Heliogen’s announcement. The factory will produce heliostats, components that track the position of the sun and then align photovoltaic mirrors to receive maximum solar energy.
The company declined to say how much the facility will cost but did say the factory will contribute to the creation of more than 250 full-time jobs across Heliogen’s California locations by 2025.
“We believe our state-of-the-art heliostat manufacturing facility is the world’s first and only purpose-built facility for high-volume heliostat production,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s chief executive, said in the announcement. “Our ability to manufacture Heliogen heliostats in the facility enables a significant cost advantage compared to earlier heliostat production, which was done in the construction field under less controlled conditions.”
When it starts operating, Heliogen’s Long Beach manufacturing facility will be led by Andy Lambert, the company’s chief production and supply chain officer. Lambert previously oversaw production lines at Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and for Munich, Germany-based Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW).
“Moving ahead with the Long Beach manufacturing facility represents a significant step forward in bringing sustainable energy solutions to heavy industry,” Lambert said in the announcement.
The announcement noted that the site’s access to major highways enables easy transit of finished goods to customer locations in the southwestern United States, northern Mexico and to the San Pedro Bay port complex for international customers.
Heliogen was founded in 2013 by Gross, creator of the Idealab technology company incubator in Pasadena. Heliogen went public in December through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that valued it at about $2 billion. The SPAC process yielded roughly $188 million; some of that money is being used to build the plant.
The company’s technology uses an array of solar panels that are constantly realigned with computer-tracking guidance to receive maximum solar energy. That energy is then directed to a central tower that houses a thermal storage tank. Inside the tank, the heat is stored in rocks, which allows for the delayed release of power, well after the sun goes down.
The technology is also modular in increments of 5 megawatts, with each array and apparatus taking up about 100 acres, a fraction of the size of the typical solar farm. This size is small enough to be used by industrial customers in addition to electric utilities and other power generation customers.
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