Bill Gates
Bill Gates. Credit: MIT Technology Review

The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund will invest in energy storage technology.

The venture is backed by Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.

It includes John Doerr, chairman of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, Laura and John Arnold Foundation co-chair and former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold, and SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner.

“I am honored to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research,” BEV chairman Bill Gates said in a statement to Fortune. “Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world.”

Other blue chip business leaders are backing the fund including Jack Ma, a Chinese business magnate who is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group and Mukesh Ambani, an Indian business magnate who is the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited.

Get this, the combined net worth of the entire board is $170 billion. That’s some serious backing!

Gates says technology innovation should be seen as a climate change solution. He is also chairman of the nuclear energy startup called TerraPower.

Investment in large scale energy research has traditionally been a government role, but today, private investors are stepping in to build on government seed funding.

They are working with leading researchers and expert advisers to drive their program.

Gates also wants to get other energy companies involved in BEV as a 20-year investment strategy and long-term energy outlook.

The group says this gives it more scope to invest in areas avoided by traditional VCs

H/T: World Economic Forum

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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  1. What a pity, if we let billionaires forge ahead with climate plans that are more a front for the “New Nuclear” industry, than anything else. Bill Gates has done a lot of good, with his philanthropy, but not in this venture.

    Under cover of its “green ” mask, the Breakthrough Institute is a front for billionaires to try out their super-expensive new nuclear toys. The toxic nuclear industry is dying, and is on life support from tax-payers. Gates and co are also aiming to get taxpayers to fund this new nuclear folly.

    1. @noelwauchope:disqus: Lets look on the bright side. This means an injection of much needed research funds and investment capital for to encourage clean energy progress and adoption.

      We get your concern about nuclear….which is a huge issue especially here in Ontario, Canada — but anything to turn us away from fossil fuels at this point is welcome. Lets win one battle at a time, first fossil fuels, then nuclear.

      1. “New nuclear” power is NOT CLEAN. It still results in toxic radioactive wastes. A smaller volume – but even more toxic, so requiring the same volume of waste disposal. They boast that some models leave wastes for JUST THE MERE 300 YEARS. Imagine – the expense, and danger – guarding this toxic trash for 3 centuries. Safer nukes? – still vulnerable to attack, still with potential to have a “dirty bomb” made.

        Finally – considering the whole fuel chain – nuclear power is NO SOLUTION to climate change:
        The Nuclear Carbon Footprint:
        Each step utilizes millions of tons of carbon. Each step requires specialized heavy equipment (which uses diesel fuel and electricity) and destroys a new part of the environment. Each step requires factories that are a terrorist target and an ongoing threat of radiation poisoning.
        Step 1 – Exploration
        Step 2 – Mining
        Step 3 – Milling
        Step 4 – Processing
        Step 5 – Enrichment
        Step 6 – Fuel Fabrication
        Step 7 – Fuel Assembly
        Step 8 – Reactor
        Step 9 – Spent Assembly
        Step 10 – Interim Storage
        Step 11 – Reprocessing
        Step 12 – High Level Waste Disposal Nobody has ever done a true evaluation of the complete carbon footprint of nuclear energy. It is so dangerous that if the Price-Anderson Act were repealed everything would be immediately shut down. Don’t forget to include the cost of cleaning up the environment around uranium mines and all these radioactive processing plants.

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