The founders of Facebook and Microsoft are joining forces with a worldwide group of tech titans to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a massive investment fund dedicated to clean energy. The multinational privately-funded initiative will spur energy research in hopes of making clean energy competitive with fossil fuels. Mark Zuckerberg announced the fund’s launch yesterday, just ahead of the COP21 climate conference that kicked off today in Paris.
The coalition’s league of investors include some of the tech industry’s most well-known names, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Softbank’s Masayoshi Son. Created in response to the insufficiencies of government-funded research, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition will tap the private sector for innovative and transformative energy solutions. The program will work with the countries participating in the Mission Innovation initiative, a separate clean energy program that will be announced in Paris today by Gates and President Barack Obama.
“Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world. We won’t be able to make meaningful progress on other challenges — like educating or connecting the world — without secure energy and a stable climate. Yet progress towards a sustainable energy system is too slow, and the current system doesn’t encourage the kind of innovation that will get us there faster,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook announcement post.
“The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in ideas that have the potential to transform the way we all produce and consume energy. As leaders prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this week, we hope this will encourage more partners to make innovation a priority in the fight against climate change.”
Gates has written a more in-depth explanation about the Breakthrough Energy Coalition in a paper that can be downloaded here. The initiative will provide seed money to bring innovative concepts to development and other projects that often get lost in the investment pipeline due to high risk and uncertain rate of returns. No funding totals have been disclosed yet.