Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition
According to Bill Gates, the transition to cleaner energy sources requires major breakthroughs in technology and large investments in infrastructures by governments and industry.
Bill Gates announced, at the opening of the climate conference in Paris (COP21) in December 2015, the creation of a multibillion dollar fund to support clean energy innovation. On this occasion, he said : “Honestly, I’ve been a bit surprised that the climate talks historically haven’t had R&D on the agenda in any way, shape or form”.
The co-founder of Microsoft considers that we need major investments to discover and develop new technologies for clean energy that will be cheap, reliable and available to everyone. This is the way forward to tackle climate change and bring energy to the poorest regions of the globe.
Indeed, as he mentioned in the Annual Letter of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, energy is of major importance to power all of our activities and our economic growth, but it is still not available to 1.3 billion people – 18% of the world’s population.
But this is a large scale issue that needs major investments and the participation of important decision-makers. For that matter, he joined forces with 28 of the world’s richest private investors, including Mark Zuckerberg, to create a private investment initiative. They pledged to fund billions of dollars to develop new sources of energy and energy storage.
The rich investors proposed a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions and investors, with the goal of solving the world’s energy issues, especially focusing on developing countries.
Governments’ support is needed to implement innovations
In order to support the early stages of innovation, the governments need to be involved, just like the supported the beginning of the digital revolution.
Government’s support is necessary until there is an actual economic shift towards financing clean energy innovation
Nineteen governments joined in a “Mission Innovation” initiative that commits governments to a doubling of public investments in basic energy research over the next five years ; it includes the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. The countries involved are the United States, China, India, Japan, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, South Korea and Mexico.
Innovation is the key to clean energy
New technologies like wind and solar power already allowed a big shift towards producing energy without producing carbon emissions, but there must be more innovation, especially towards energy storage, in order to tackle the intermittency of these energy sources. Mr. Gates said that we need new technology to “make electricity when the wind is still and the sun isn’t shining – and to find cost-effective ways to store energy”.
These innovations must also allow to provide cheap energy to developing countries without contributing to climate change. Therefore, it has to be an easy alternative to fossil fuels.