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EU Commission and Bill Gates target $1bn to accelerate clean technology

The EU Commission and Bill Gates are looking to mobilise as much as $1bn USD investment into sustainable tech such as clean hydrogen and green fuel sources.

When self-made billionaires start to push bold eco-initiatives backed by serious money, the mind naturally starts to wonder about potential greenwashing, PR stunting, and what these influential names really stand to gain.

With such a glistening track record in sustainable tech, however, Bill Gates is definitely an exception.

The latest announcement from the Microsoft chief reveals an ambitious partnership with the European Commission to drive clean tech and sustainable energy schemes totalling up to $1bn USD before 2026.

The overarching goal of the project is to quicken Europe’s transition away from fossil fuels and toward low-carbon energy sources and green tech deemed too expensive to implement now.

Gates’ founded program, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, wants to commit funds to large scale commercial projects with the potential to decarbonise the very worst offending industries, like transport and electricity production.

Reducing our current footprint is also key on the agenda, so engineering firms working on carbon capture technology will get a slice of the pie. Think of it as a full scale assault on climate change.

Specifically, the key areas being prioritised for investment here are green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture, and long-duration energy storage.

Both Breakthrough Energy Catalyst and the EU Commission will choose the most suitable projects to bring to scale over the coming years, presumably over monthly long-distance Zoom calls.

This isn’t the first sustainable outing for this duo, having cultivated around $100 million USD to finance European projects back in 2019. But, with COP-26 fast approaching – and our climate targets drawing ever nearer – the pair have upped the ante with a pledge ten times that of the previous total.

From Gates’ side, a statement reveals he will privately fund grants – propped up by fellow eco-philanthropists – whilst the EU Commission acts as the go-between, mobilising transactions through its InvestEU program.

The partnership is also open to investment of any size from EU member states until June 30th, so that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.

Despite the huge sum of money being touted here, the EU Commission isn’t putting all it’s eggs in Gates’ basket when it comes to financing decarbonising tech.

Throughout the height of Covid-19, the commission started a fund of €750bn called ‘Next Generation EU’ to boost the continent’s economies post pandemic (until 2024). Two focus areas of the recovery fund are renewable energy and clean transport, which means Europe’s green transition is receiving backing on multiple fronts.

‘Decarbonizing the global economy is the greatest opportunity for innovation the world has ever seen,’ Gates said in the statement published by the EU.

‘Through this partnership, Europe will lay solid ground for a net-zero future in which clean technologies are reliable, available, and affordable for all.’

 

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