$1bn to be pumped into climate fund led by Bill Gates

12 Dec 2016

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Image: Frederic Legrand – COMEO/Shutterstock

Bill Gates is to lead a $1bn fund over the course of the next 20 years that will fund some of the world’s rising stars in the clean energy industry, with help from some other leading tech figures like Jack Ma.

Bill Gates providing billions of philanthropic funding for new initiatives is nothing new for the Microsoft co-founder, but this latest fund to tackle the effects of climate change marks a united effort to help fund companies tackling one of the world’s greatest issues today.

Called Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the initiative will provide $1bn in funding for companies working with the clean energy space from 20 different investors that also includes Jack Ma, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

With a combined wealth of nearly $200bn, the $1bn allocated so far is expected to spread out across the next 20 years.

This announcement follows Gates’s promise last year that such a fund would be set up following a meeting with some of the world’s leading political figures, to discuss what can be done to tackle the observable climate change effects on our planet.

At the time, he had said that he plans to invest $1bn of his own money into a future fund, having signed an agreement that became known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which included 27 other wealth signatories.

According to Quartz, this fund will focus on clean energy technologies like energy storage and production, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of industry and agriculture.

Challenges of funding clean energy

In discussing what he sees as the likely results from the funding, Gates has admitted that investing in clean energy technology remains a greater challenge than more familiar funding of a tech company.

“People think you can just put $50m in and wait two years and then you know what you got. In this energy space, that’s not true at all,” he said.

Alibaba’s Ma also commented on the establishment of the fund saying that: “Too often, we let what we think we know limit what is possible.

“When it comes to energy, people say you cannot make money, meet demand and also benefit the environment. But we can and we will.”

While Gates’s philanthropy has been particularly evident in advancing medicine and healthcare, he has also been interested in advanced clean energy technologies, including nuclear fusion.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Image: Frederic Legrand – COMEO/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic