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Gates, Bezos and Others Invest $1 Billion in Clean Energy

Some of the richest people in the world have pledged more than $1 billion to find new clean energy tech.
Gates, Bezos and Others Invest $1 Billion in Clean Energy

Bill Gates

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Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and a handful of other all-star business leaders have pledged more than $1 billion to help bankroll next-gen energy technologies.

Launching today, the investor-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) fund will finance emerging ideas for the future of affordable and reliable zero-carbon energy generation.

Over the next two decades, BEV plans to make "risk-tolerant" investments in new tech to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in "key" areas like electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

According to Gates, the world will be using 50 percent more energy by 2050 than it does today. That's good news for the 1 billion-plus folks living without access to basic energy services right now.

But most of that energy creates greenhouse gases and drives climate change; even modern renewable technologies like wind and solar aren't enough to lead to a zero-carbon energy future.

"The urgency of climate change and the commitment of countries around the world to limit emissions requires an aggressive global push for zero-emission energy innovation," the BEV FAQ said.

A division of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC) -- founded in November 2015 by Gates and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg -- BEV aims to "explore technological pathways" based on climate impact, market potential, scientific promise and need for unique capital.

Zuckerberg and Gates last year launched BEC to invest in new clean-energy technologies. Facebook already supports renewable and clean energy at data facilities across the country. But progress is still too slow.

"It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century's progress against poverty and disease -- and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem," Gates wrote in a July 2015 blog post.

So, Zuckerberg, his philanthropist wife Priscilla Chan and Gates last year partnered with a handful of people -- including Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Amazon head Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, LinkedIn creator Reid Hoffman, Alibaba Group exec chairman Jack Ma and HP head Meg Whitman -- to speed up the process.

But the 20-year BEV fund can't do it alone: Gates and Co. hope to encourage public and private capital, including energy companies, to get on board with clean energy for the future.


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