Bill Gates and EU pledge $1 billion boost for green technology

Microsoft founder and chairman of Breakthrough Energy Ventures Bill Gates during a signing ceremony with European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic (unseen), EU Commissioner responsible for Research, Science and Innovation, Portuguese, Carlos Moedas (unseen) to establish the Breakthrough Energy Europe investment fund at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 17 October 2018. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

The European Union and an energy investment programme founded by Bill Gates plan to raise up to $1 billion to roll out the low-carbon technologies Europe is betting on to meet its climate change goals, the European Commission said on Wednesday (2 June).

The partnership would see Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy use private capital and philanthropic funds to match funding provided by the EU. The aim is to together provide up to €820 million, or $1 billion, from 2022 to 2026.

Support will target hydrogen produced from renewable energy, sustainable aviation fuels, technology to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, and long-duration energy storage, the Commission said.

Those technologies are seen as critical to slashing emissions from sectors like heavy industry and aviation, but remain too expensive to scale up without support and compete with cheaper fossil fuel alternatives.

“Decarbonising the global economy is the greatest opportunity for innovation the world has ever seen,” Gates said in a statement, adding that Europe will play a “critical” role thanks to its climate ambitions and leadership in science and technology.

“The world cannot wait for technologies to develop on their own,” the Commission said. The EU has committed to eliminate its net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The investments will focus on building large-scale commercial demonstration projects to reduce the cost of the technologies.

They will comprise grants and other financial instruments, with the EU contribution coming from existing funds including the bloc’s budget and the EU Innovation Fund, consisting of cash from sales of permits in the bloc’s carbon market.

Bill Gates launches EU clean energy ‘breakthrough’ fund in Brussels

The newly-established €100 million fund will help innovative European companies bring “radically new” clean energy technologies to the market, including the “holy grail” of batteries, the European Commission said.

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