Bill Gates pledges $1.5B clean tech partnership with DOE

By Nick Sobczyk | 08/12/2021 03:13 PM EST

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates in 2019. Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Bill Gates’ climate fund will pump $1.5 billion into a joint venture with the Department of Energy to speed development of clean energy technologies — if the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate this week becomes law.

The Microsoft Corp. founder announced today that Breakthrough Energy’s Catalyst project would invest the money over three years in public-private partnerships to boost technology demonstrations for sustainable aviation fuel, green hydrogen, direct air capture and energy storage.

It’s contingent on enactment of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which would offer billions in funding for a variety of energy demonstration projects.

“If the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act becomes law, this collaboration will not only send us on a more durable path to net zero, but will create both immediate and long-term jobs in communities across the country,” Gates said in a statement.

Breakthrough aims to use the investment to mobilize up to $15 billion total to bring nascent technologies to market. The Catalyst program, which pulls together private and public funding for decarbonization technologies, will co-fund demonstrations with DOE and support projects through the Loan Programs Office.

Catalyst announced a similar partnership with the European Commission in June.

“Breakthrough Energy Catalyst’s commitment shows that the private sector is ready to lead the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a net-zero economy by 2050,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

“Paired with the historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, these investments will unlock new technologies to position the U.S. as a global leader of the clean energy economy — creating good-paying jobs for all kinds of workers in all pockets of the country.”

The infrastructure legislation would fund many of the provisions enacted at the end of last year as part of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s massive energy bill (Energywire, July 30).

The bipartisan package, which passed the Senate 69-30 earlier this week, would create an Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations and provide billions for energy and grid technology across the board.

Still, it has a long way to go before passing the House and becoming law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has pledged not to vote on it until the Senate passes a larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is likely to contain much of the Biden administration’s policy agenda (Greenwire, Aug. 10).