Bill Gates-backed fund pledges $1bn for clean energy

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund drawing from the world’s wealthiest individuals, has announced it will be allocating $1bn towards investment in clean energy technologies.

Among the heavyweight backers of the investment vehicle are Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Inc., Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group Ltd., Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., John Arnold, a billionaire natural gas trader, and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the founder of Kingdom Holding.

Bloomberg reports that the objective is to pump money into risky, long-term energy technology that could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement. The investments will likely go into areas such as electricity generation and storage, agriculture and transportation.

"I am honoured to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research,” Gates said in a statement. “Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world."

Gates is concerned with solving global warming in the near term and believes the only way to halt it is to find an energy source that produces no greenhouse gases. He believes solar and nuclear power and electric cars won’t have the quick impact required.

He has personally backed a number of radical energy start-ups and has encouraged other wealthy individuals to follow suit. Fostering the technology is an attempt to stimulate venture capital that has been lacking in recent years.

A fortnight ago Gates spoke to new US president Donald Trump to persuade him as to the merits of continuing to develop clean energy. “The key point I was pushing there was the opportunity for innovation in not only energy but also medicine and education and encouraging the idea that that’s a great deal and a great thing for American leadership,” Gates said.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures was set up last year but this is the first major announcement since its inception.

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