Zuckerberg, Gates, Branson and Bezos invest in green energy fund

30 Nov 2015

The Paris climate summit, underway this week, has seen tech giants combine to create a private, green energy fund to help press away from hydro-carbons into more environmentally-friendly sources.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a fund backed by the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Marc Benioff, Meg Whitman, Priscilla Chan, Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma.

Seeking to develop green technology that can up the output of energy on the planet, while reducing the impact of current practices, the tech giants are hoping to complement government-backed initiatives, similar to that of the digital revolution.

“If we look at where we’ve had huge success in the past, government has been there to fund the basic research,” explained Gates.

“That was true of the digital revolution, where government contracts led to the internet. We have to pair that with people who are willing to fund high-risk breakthrough energy companies. That formula will accelerate the innovation, the risk taking.”

According to Gates, a major flaw in the pursuit of clean, green energy production is a “Valley of Death” that lies in between promising concepts and viable products. This means neither private, nor public, initiatives can go it alone.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, therefore, is being created to “help promising approaches cross the Valley of Death”, basically reducing the risk for the innovator, getting ideas out of the lab and into the wild.

As Gates explains, governmental help is needed, too, so a project called Mission Innovation was agreed in Paris, which is a commitment by several countries to invest greater sums in clean energy research.

Bill Gates image via Frederic Legrand/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic