Bill Gates forms $1 billion clean tech fund with business tycoons

President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bill and Melinda Gates during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on November 22. On Monday, Gates launched a new fund to invest more than $1 billion in clean energy. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI

SEATTLE, Dec. 12 (UPI) — Microsoft founder Bill Gates is forming a $1 billion fund with other investors in a quest to fight climate change with clean energy innovation.

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund “will finance emerging energy breakthroughs that can deliver affordable and reliable zero carbon emissions,” the investors said in a statement. Gates announced plans for the fund in late 2015 but details were revealed Monday.

Gates also last year announced plans to personally invest $1 billion over the next five years in clean energy technology. He was among 28 wealthy individuals and families who signed on to the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. The new fund works to deploy their capital.

Gates will be chairman of the board. Other investors include Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, venture capitalists John Doerr and Vinod Khosla, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold, and SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner.

The combined net worth of the directors is nearly $170 billion, based on estimated individual wealth by Bloomberg and Forbes.

Gates and his co-directors first met last August in Seattle to make plans.

The fund will focus on electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings.

“Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we’re open-minded to,” Gates told Quartz.

Gates said investing in energy is more difficult than investing in information technology.

“People think you can just put $50 million in and wait two years and then you know what you got,” he said. “In this energy space, that’s not true at all.”

BEV estimates the global energy market at $6 trillion.

“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,” Gates said.

On Sunday, President-elect Donald Trump said in an Fox News interview he is “open-minded,” about climate change, but it’s up for debate because “nobody really knows” if it is real.


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