After the Paris Agreement Announcement: Bill Gates’ Vision

After the Paris Agreement Announcement: Bill Gates’ Vision

By Shinji Tutoru

Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, had included clean energy and climate change as one of the items on his agenda in 2010. He then invested in a number of energy frontiers in the following five years such as new battery and solar technologies, safer nuclear power plants, tethered high-flying turbines, and systems that might someday remove the long-lasting planet-warming emission from fuel burning and carbon dioxide.

In an interview with Gates, posted in the New York Times, he described the next steps for the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a global group of private investors who will support companies that are taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. Gates also addressed concerns expressed by energy investors who say energy miracles are already happening today with the usage of solar, wind and other non-polluting energy technologies. The main points of this interview are summarized below.

Vision For the Energy & Climate Norms the World Could Have In 2100

Bill Gates envisions lower prices of energy to keep essential things such as fertilizer, lighting, refrigerators and air conditioning available to everyone by 2100. A decline in local pollution, a stop on climate perturbation and a limit on ocean acidification are also part of Gates vision for a “cleaner” future.

Next Plans After the Paris Agreement Grand Announcement

With over 80K tweets for the hashtag #Paris Agreement, this announcement was greatly welcomed. Gates emphasized the role of both the government and private sector in accomplishing the next steps after the Paris grand announcement. A government with the right regulations and incentives is needed. As for the private sector, some should help in venturing basic research pieces while others may help in non-research pieces. Group of private investors and institutional investors would bring several billion in to nurture these companies up to a pretty large stage, so that more non-venture type financing would help with the gradual scale-up.

Is the USA Spending In a Way That Is Not Effective?

Gates thinks that the US is participating in the general efforts. Even though the USA underspends, 50% of all the energy R&D spending comes from the USA. Capitalism in general underinvests in research because the benefits to society are way more than whoever takes the risk and does the invention.

General Sectors That Gates Is Interested In (& Where Investments Will Be Made)

According to Gates, the range of possibilities for getting an energy breakthrough is wide. In nuclear space, there is fusion and fission. In wind, there is high altitude wind (where a little has been done yet), offshore wind and onshore wind. In solar, there is solar electric (has gone the furthest), solar thermal, solar chemical, biofuels, and climate.

CO2 Removal – Taking It Out Of the Atmosphere & Stashing It For the Long Term

Gates mentioned that doing carbon sequestration out of a natural gas/power plant flue is a lot easier than out of a coal flue, because there isn’t the sulfuric acid. This is to be incorporated as part of a solution.

Building prototypes now and saying how hard it is to do that carbon capture at a large scale, it’s great that the work is going on. The initial plants will be at very high prices — on the order of $100 per ton, which is way above even the highest CO2 tax in the world.

Ways To Make Science More Pervasive In the Present Scenario

According to Gates, we need to take dreams and make them concrete. People should get to think about things and realize that the world needs inventions and should draw and involve young people in them.

For Those Criticizing the Over-Attention On Earth Related Issues

Gates mentions the power of trade-offs. Future carbon dioxide remitters are not going to pay some meaningful premium, nor are they giving up total reliability.

To read the full interview, you can visit this link.

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