Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have announced that they’re joining forces with other big names in the world of technology to create a new fund that will encourage private investment in clean energy.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, announced by Zuckerberg in a Facebook post, will “invest in ideas that have the potential to transform the way we all produce and consume energy”. On its website, the Coalition claims that it will focus on “early stage companies that have the potential of an energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy”.
The partnership also includes the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Alibaba’s Jack Ma, along with Zuckerberg and Gates. There’s no word on the kind of sums involved in the fund, but given the names involved, the figures are likely large. Perhaps just as important as the amount of cash, though, is the model that will be used, as the Coalition explains:
Experience indicates that even the most promising ideas face daunting commercialization challenges and a nearly impassable Valley of Death between promising concept and viable product, which neither government funding nor conventional private investment can bridge. This collective failure can be addressed, in part, by a dramatically scaled-up public research pipeline, linked to a different kind of private investor with a long term commitment to new technologies who is willing to put truly patient flexible risk capital to work.
Gates also launched a program called Mission Innovation yesterday, an initiative which brings together 20 countries — including Australia, the US, Brazil, India, China and more — with the aim to double public investment in energy research over the next five years, from $US10 bn to $US20 bn. “New investments would be focused on transformational clean energy technology innovations that can be scalable to varying economic and energy market conditions that exist in participating countries and in the broader world,” the program’s website explains.
“Affordable and reliable energy makes it easier for [the world’s poorest] to grow more food, run schools and hospitals and businesses, have refrigerators at home, and take advantage of all the things that make up modern life,” writes Gates. “But the world’s growing demand for energy is also a big problem, because most of that energy comes from hydrocarbons, which emit greenhouse gases and drive climate change. So we need to move to sources of energy that are affordable and reliable, and don’t produce any carbon.”
Image by Aaron under Creative Commons licence