Bill Gates has joined forces with a multinational group of investors to spur the development of clean sources of energy. The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft announced the formation of this energy fund at the United Nations Climate Change Summit which is currently taking place in Paris. The project is being called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
The strategy is to lower the cost of clean energy in order to make it more competitive with fossil fuels. This way, companies will be more eager to invest in renewable energy. Doing this will enable poorer countries to make the switch to clean energy without losing out on economic growth.
Gates said, “We need to bring the cost premium for being clean down. You need the innovation so that the cost of clean is lower than the coal based energy generation."
Gates believes that the world can actually lower the price of energy from where it is now, while still making electricity generation less harmful to the environment. According to Gates, clean energy can make amenities like air conditioning, refrigeration, stoves and fertilizer more affordable. All these things that enable a modern lifestyle are very energy intensive. I see the price of energy actually being lower than today, and that's for clean energy."
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will consist of a group that represents more than two dozen public and private parties. The investors include national governments, billionaire philanthropists, fund managers and corporate CEOs. Some of the investors include Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Virgin CEO Richard Branson.
Gates said, “The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future. But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths, and that means we also need to invent new approaches."
Already, more than a dozen state governments have promised to double their investment on the development of carbon-free energy during the next five years.
Gates added, “Private companies will ultimately develop these energy breakthroughs, but their work will rely on the kind of basic research that only governments can fund.”
Currently, the United States only spends about $5 billion on the research and development of new energy technology. Meanwhile, the country spends $31 billion on research for healthcare and almost $70 billion on defense research.
While there is no particular financial goal for the fund, it is expected to raise billions of dollars for clean energy research. According to Gates, the energy fund will focus on the areas of electricity generation and storage, energy transportation, industrial uses for energy, making energy more efficient and the use of energy in agriculture.
Overall, Gates believes that there will be major benefits associated with reducing the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.
"It would help millions more people escape poverty and become more self-sufficient. And it would stabilize energy prices, which will have an even bigger impact on the global economy as more people come to rely on energy in their daily lives," he stated.