Bill Gates and EIB to mobilise $1bn towards green tech innovation

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Bill Gates through his technology accelerator Breakthrough Energy, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Commission have teamed up to launch a new climate financing programme aimed at increasing investments in clean technologies that are vital for the achievement of the energy transition.

The new programme, Catalyst, aims to accelerate innovation in green projects to ensure the costs decline for technologies vital to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Most green technologies are still more expensive than the systems they’re trying to replace, and they don’t do a better job providing energy. In many cases, they do a poorer job. Clean jet fuel, for example, provides less energy per gallon than the conventional stuff, and it costs a lot more,” according to a statement released by Bill Gates and the EIB.

The three parties will work with philanthropists, companies, and governments to speed up research and development of new technologies, and the commercialisation and adoption of both existing and new green solutions. The goal is to make other green products follow the same cycle of early adoption, innovation, and cost reductions that made solar power and microwave ovens so much cheaper, according to a statement.

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Catalyst will focus on four key technologies namely:

  • Long-duration energy storage to allow energy to be stored for months at a time, versus the handful of days that today’s best batteries are capable of. A breakthrough in this area would make solar and wind power more practical in more places.
  • Sustainable aviation fuels that can power cargo planes and large passenger jets, which are far too large and heavy to ever be powered by batteries.
  • Direct air capture to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with cheaper technologies.
  • Inexpensive green hydrogen. Hydrogen fuels are really promising—they can provide more power than batteries and so could be used to run large planes and industrial processes. Unfortunately, they’re very expensive when made in ways that don’t emit more greenhouse gases.

The new financing programme will publish a report in September with specifics on how the project will operate. The first funding from the programme is expected in 2022 with up to $1 billion in funding set to be mobilised over a period of five years.

In a blog, Bill Gates wrote: “Climate change isn’t the only reason we should speed things up. Research shows that U.S. voters understand how developing clean technologies will spark new industries, creating blue-collar jobs in fields like American manufacturing that have seen big declines in the past few decades.”