Breakthrough Energy logo (credit: Breakthrough Energy)
While some people embrace the past, software pioneer and philanthropist, Bill Gates, has a far more future-oriented vision: to transform energy technologies for a carbonless future. While renewable energy still provides a small percentage of current energy supplies, Gates just launched Breakthrough Energy, a $1 billion effort to develop renewably-generated supplies. He announced the project will:
"finance emerging energy breakthroughs to deliver affordable and reliable energy with the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to near-zero."
According to their announcement:
"The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a group of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and institutional investors who have committed to help bring promising new zero-emissions energy technologies to market. We are investing capital and working with over 20 countries to significantly increase their research investments that could lead to breakthrough innovations."
As part of the initiative, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) was created by:
"a group of investors brought together in a new fund that is patient, flexible, and committed to the Coalition's principles. The Fund will collaborate with other investors, governments, research institutions, and corporate partners who understand scientific expertise, have a long-term horizon and a tolerance and understanding of the risks required to transform energy markets."
While no specific projects or investments were stated, energy breakthroughs will be critical in: renewable generation and storage; efficiency improvement in energy distribution and use; hydrogen powered vehicles; and small-scale nuclear power.
Bill Gates made his subtantial fortune betting on practical uses of software programming in the 20th Century. Everyone should wish for the same success on his bets on renewable energy in the 21st. His success will benefit ecology and economics over the entire planet.