Billionaire philanthropist and investor Bill Gates, along with a group of high-profile executives, are launching a $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), to promote clean energy technology and tackle global climate change.
The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is made up of nearly two dozen of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
“I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research. Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world”, Gates said.
The announcement comes just over a year after the United Nations climate change goals were set in Paris in November 2015. The fund is looking to increase the financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
“To be successful, you have to get the most out of the technology you already have while developing the technology you still need”, Gates said in his post on his Gates Notes blog.
Energy storage technology is one of the key focus areas that BEV will invest in as part of a first wave, as more efficient and cheaper storage allows greater dependency on intermittent clean energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Gates, along with some of the world’s most respected scientists, energy experts, and energy investors, developed a list of scientific priorities that will help with the energy of the future.
In this ‘landscape of innovation’ list, Gates, along with other energy experts and investors, set five grand challenges, corresponding to the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:
Electricity: How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
Buildings: How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?
Manufacturing: How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
Transportation: How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
Food: How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?
Gates says the success of the effort for clean, reliable, affordable energy relies on a lot more than the $1 billion in capital.
He added: “When it comes to energy, though, this transition—from idea to product to company—is often complicated by the challenges of the market. Unlike a software start up, getting a new energy technology from a lab to market takes a lot of infrastructure, a lot of upfront capital, and a lot of time.”
Gates plans to work closely with energy companies that are involved in funding and supporting promising technology breakthroughs.
Gates concluded his post by saying: “With patience, flexibility, collaboration, and a clear vision backed by meaningful investment, we, the fund’s investors, are confident the world can meet its energy needs in a way that is fair, safe, and sustainable. And we’re excited about the role that Breakthrough Energy Ventures will play in that effort.”
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