A GROUP of high-profile executives and investors, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), has launched a US$1bn fund to develop new clean energy technologies.
The Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) will help to finance affordable, reliable, emission-free energy. It will last for 20 years, which BEC believes will allow developers to achieve long-term market success with their products. Funding will be available to projects at all levels of development, from seed projects to commercialisation, in sectors including electricity generation and storage, transport, industrial systems, agriculture, and energy system efficiency.
BEC is co-chaired by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and John Arnold of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The 21 members of BEC come from all over the world. They include Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, Mark Zuckerberg, founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook, and Aliko Dangote, founder and CEO of Dangote Group. The group was set up in December 2015 with the aim of fostering energy technology development.
Gates said that the launch of the fund is “extremely exciting” and the next step for the coalition.
BEV plans to work with other investors, governments, research institutions and corporate partners in providing funding. It will have in-house scientists, entrepreneurs and private sector experts which will help to decide what projects to fund.
“The dearth of venture funding for clean energy technologies threatens to create a valley of death for the industry, with emerging ideas unable to find the necessary capital to reach commercialisation. As an investor-led effort, Breakthrough Energy Ventures is designed as a source of patient capital to spur innovation to meet the growing demand for low-cost, clean energy solutions,” said Arnold.
As well as launching the fund, BEC has also released a guidance tool, the Landscape of Innovation to show the range of technologies and the scale of the challenge relating to the global energy market. It covers generation, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings, and includes technologies such as carbon capture, nuclear, batteries, low-emission steel and high efficiency cooling and refrigeration. As well as driving its own decision, BEC hopes that the Landscape will also be used by other investors and governments around the world.
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