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Gates invests $1 Billion in Breakthrough Energy Tech

Gates: We need an energy miracle

Gates: We need an energy miracle

Bill Gates is launching $1 billion fund, called Breakthrough Energy Ventures, to invest in new forms of clean energy. 

He said that there is an urgent need for “high risk” investments in breakthrough technologies for renewables.

In July 2016, Gates considered 2 billion.  

In 2015, Warren Buffett, offered $2,1 billion of his Class B Bershire Hathaway shares to the Gates Foundation, to boost Better Energy solutions.

In a post on his Gates Notes blog, Gates said the fund will invest in “scientific breakthroughs that have the potential to deliver cheap and reliable clean energy to the world.”

20 billionaire business leaders collaborate

The announcement comes a year after the United Nations climate change talks in Paris, where Gates unveiled the Breakthrough Energy Coalition – a group of some 20 billionaire business leaders from around the world, plus institutional investors, who committed to investing in new forms of energy. The coalition partnered with Mission Innovation, a group of 20 countries and the European Union that pledged to double their investment in clean energy research over five years.

Gates explained that some of the members of the coalition are investing in energy on their own, and others have joined him in the new Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund.

5 challenges

The Energy Coalition has spelled out five “grand challenges” which it says are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions around the world:
  1. electricity
  2. buildings
  3. manufacturing
  4. transportation
  5. food

In 2005, he already invested in Pacific Ethanol, but he reduced his investment in 2014. He also invested in nuclear power firm TerraPower, which has been working on building a technology called a traveling wave reactor.

Gates lessons learned

On a media call Gates and others mentioned that there are lessons to be learned from the past decade of investing in clean energy.

He highlighted the need to fail fast and not spend vast sums on large factories or refineries that might not work. But there are also success stories: Tesla Motors for instance, now now sports a market capitalization of $33 billion. If the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund can back several companies like Tesla (in other sectors), that would be a win. The fund will invest in both early stage companies and growth stage companies.

In addition, Gates said that companies like Southern Co. and oil and gas company Total would serve as strategic partners that will help the fund figure out whether it’s backing technologies that industry will adopt.

Before Gates told in an interview: “investments should be like the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project in the sense that the government should put in a serious amount of R&D.”


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