Bill Gates’ climate fund looks set to pump billions into carbon removal, green hydrogen and more
Bill Gates’ climate investment fund is moving forward with plans to pump billions of dollars into emerging green technologies. This week the Breakthrough Energy fund released a Request for Proposals for projects in Europe through Breakthrough Energy’s Catalyst program. It comes after the Catalyst program launched its first RFP for similar projects in The United States last month.
The Catalyst program, launched last June with the aim of a zero-carbon economy through public-private partnerships, says it has raised $1.5 billion in the past six months and hopes to raise $3 billion by the middle of next year. It plans to use that money to boost four different types of technologies: green hydrogen fuels, sustainable aviation fuels, energy storage and technology that captures carbon dioxide in the air.
In August, Gates said the Catalyst program would spend $1.5 billion over three years on joint projects with the U.S. Department of Energy if Congress passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill. That public-private partnership could lead to up to $15 billion in US investment, Catalyst estimated in August.
Biden signed that bill in law in November, $1.2 trillion in investment unlocked — including tens of billions of dollars to promote electric vehicles, update airports, refurbish the power grid, build out”hubs” for clean hydrogen, and direct air capture and captured carbon pipelines.
Now Breakthrough Energy Catalyst says it is ready to deliver on its financing promise. However, the amount it ultimately yields will depend on how promising the projects are. It plans to fund the first group of technologies over the next five years. “We’re confident the US has projects that would represent more than $1 billion in investment from Catalyst, but I’m not saying they definitely will until we evaluate them,” Breakthrough Energy CEO Jonah Goldman said. The edge. “We’re not just going to give one and a half billion — these are serious, rigorous project evaluation processes that need to go through.”
The projects that Catalyst ultimately selects in Europe may also be eligible for additional funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. Overall, Breakthrough Energy hopes the public-private partnership can mobilize $1 billion USD for European projects between 2022 and 2027. The fund also plans to release an RFP for the UK this year, followed by funding opportunities for other parts of the world.
“The critical thing for all of these climate technologies is to keep costs down and scale them up to a pretty gargantuan level,” Gates said. The Wall Street Journal in August.
Technology that removes CO2 from the air, called direct air capture, is a strong example of how much investment is needed. Today, this technology is at a very early stage and is very expensive. Microsoft, which pledged in 2020 to cut and absorb more carbon dioxide than the company emits by the end of the decade, may have been billed $9.6 billion to remove the company’s 2020 emissions. To cut costs and deliver on its promise, Microsoft has also launched a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund. But much more investment will be needed to make the technology cheap and widely available. The other technologies targeted by Gates’ Catalyst program will also need a lot of help to get off the ground.