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Bill Gates sees geothermal power as a key clean energy investment area of interest

Bill Gates (source: flickr/ Sam Churchill, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 14 Dec 2017

As part of his climate change efforts, Bill Gates recently described geothermal power to be one of five key areas of interest for a clean energy fund by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an effort founded by him and other philanthropists.

In a post published on his blog on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates provided his view on climate change in light of his attendance of the One Plant Summit held in Paris, France this week.

Making a passionate plead for adapting “to the climate change that is already affecting the planet”, and the need to “develop new tools that will keep the problem from getting worse.

Innovation is key to doing both. Scientific advances in crop science, for example, will help farmers deal with changing weather patterns. And energy research will make it possible to power modern life—the way we live, work, travel, and make things—without adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”, so Bill Gates in his blog ahead of the meetings.

As part of his involvement, he announced what key things he wanted to highlight in Paris.

He mentions the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors who are supporting entrepreneurs working on new sources of clean energy founded in 2015, as well as $1 billion clean-energy investment fund that is up and running. The fund has hired accomplished investors, company builders, scientist, and technologists.

 

As part of the fund activities, five areas were identified that are “especially promising but also underfunded” and where it “will focus [its] investment”.

  • Grid-scale storage
  • Liquid fuels
  • Mini-grids
  • Alternative building materials, and
  • Geothermal power.

For us as the geothermal industry these are great news. He states that ” There is a phenomenal amount of energy stored up as heat under the Earth’s surface—many times more than we could get from all the known coal and oil reserves in the world. Tapping this source involves pumping steam or hot water from underground to drive turbines.”

In order to push development in geothermal power projects, the question is how a fund like this could help. What would be your ideas on where Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures should focus on?

There are tons of ideas, starting from risk mitigation, drilling cost, but also support for the less tangible elements such as data gathering, data management and the overall work on elements that help portrait the industry better. Efforts like that of ThinkGeoEnergy and its sister sites are aimed at giving the geothermal industry a better image, highlighting the great opportunities it offers in the context of the necessary energy transition. So I hope that the investment interest goes beyond the actual development projects supporting promotional and facilitating tools and efforts.

Source: Gates Notes – the blog of Bill Gates