Breakthrough Energy is the umbrella name of several organizations, founded by Bill Gates in 2015, that aim to accelerate innovation in sustainable energy and in other technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It invests in a variety of startup companies that are attempting to commercialize new concepts such as nuclear fusion, large-capacity batteries to store renewable energy, and microbe-generated biofuels.
At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2015, Gates announced that a coalition of 28 high net-worth investors from ten countries had committed to the Breakthrough Energy initiative. A complementary initiative of Gates, Mission Innovation, was announced at the same time.
In December 2016, a group of investors collectively worth US$170 billion announced more personal commitment to funding the efforts of a US$1 billion fund "focused on fighting climate change by investing in clean energy innovation." The fund is named Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund.
At its inception, Gates explained, "The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future... But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths." Breakthrough Energy invests primarily in businesses where the risk of failure is high and the timeframe for return on investment is 20 years. Traditional venture capitalists look for a return on investment in five years, which may not be enough for the special challenges of the energy sector.
- Jeff Bezos
- Marc Benioff
- Michael Bloomberg
- Richard Branson
- Reid Hoffman
- Jack Ma
- George Soros
- Tom Steyer
- Meg Whitman
- Dani El Zain
- Mark Zuckerberg
- University of California, the sole institutional investor at launch
- Nat Simons
- Mukesh Ambani
There has been criticism that the coalition was announced too early, before crucial details had been confirmed. At launch, a Gates Foundation spokesman confirmed that investment professionals had yet to be appointed, named investors—other than Gates—had not publicly stated their level of investment and a financial structure had not been confirmed.
- Verdox — carbon capture. On February 2, 2022, Breakthrough Energy agreed to join an investors syndicate providing $80 million in capital to Verdox, Inc., a startup company attempting to scale a new carbon capture and removal platform developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—one of five carbon capture technology investments the organization would make by the beginning of the following May. The Verdox, Inc. carbon capture design, created by chemical engineers T. Alan Hatton and Sahag Voskian, co-won a $1 million preliminary prize along with Carbfix (co-founded by geochemist Wallace S. Broecker) from an X Prize Foundation contest funded by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.[list 1]
- Methanol fuel cells (August 2022), conversion of methanol to electricity
- Data Blanket - Wildfire drone technology start-up
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- Voskian, Sahag; Hatton, T. Alan (2019). "Faradaic electro-swing reactive adsorption for CO2 capture". Energy & Environmental Science. Royal Society of Chemistry. 2019 (12): 3530–3547. doi:10.1039/C9EE02412C. hdl:1721.1/123890. S2CID 208719788.
- Brabant, Malcolm (August 23, 2016). "To combat climate change, these scientists are turning CO2 into rock". PBS NewsHour. WETA-TV. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
- "Verdox Wins $1M XPRIZE Carbon Removal Award Together with Partner Carbfix". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. April 22, 2022. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
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- Clifford, Catherine (February 8, 2021). "The who, what and where of Elon Musk's $100 million prize money for carbon capture innovation". CNBC. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
- Chappell, Bill (February 8, 2021). "Elon Musk Funds $100 Million XPrize For Pursuit Of New Carbon Removal Ideas". NPR. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
- "Breakthrough Energy Ventures backs methanol fuel cell company Blue World Technologies". Green Car Congress.
- Collins, Leigh (11 January 2022). "How to make expensive green hydrogen commercially viable today — without subsidies | Recharge". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
- Bundled references