Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates together with almost two dozen of the world’s most wealthiest business leaders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists are investing up to $1 billion in a fund to back radical approaches to clean energy.
The trust is part of Breakthrough Energy Coalition initiative, launched by Gates in 2015. It includes among its members well-know figures, such as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma. The combined net worth of the fund’s directors is roughly $170 billion, according to Quartz.
Investing in energy is a complex business, he said according to the site, and so the market is not crowded. “People think you can just put $50m in and wait two years and then you know what you got,” he said. “In this energy space, that’s not true at all (…) It’s such a big market that the value if you’re really providing a big portion of the world’s energy, the value of that will be super, super big.”
The fund’s goal, in Gates’ own words, is to build companies that will help “deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world.”
Its investments, slated to take place over the next 20 years, won’t be limited to electricity production — they’ll also include new technologies for agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and construction. It will fund projects that can deliver the biggest possible benefit to the planet’s future climate, as long as the science underlying the application has been proved in the lab and can reasonably be scaled up.
The announcement comes on the heels of US President-elect Donald Trump appointing climate-change denier Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
It also follows reports of conversations between Trump and key members of the recently launched fund — Gates and Cook specifically — about issues related to climate change and immigration, according to the full transcript of an interview between Trump and the New York Times.