Bill Gates says climate tech will produce 8 to 10 Teslas,
a Google, an Amazon and a Microsoft
Bill Gates, the fourth-wealthiest person in the world, doesn’t need to make money by investing in climate change. But for those who are looking to strike it rich, Gates sees plenty of opportunities.
In an interview that aired Wednesday as part of the virtual SOSV Climate Tech Summit, Gates said future returns in climate investing will be comparable to what the biggest tech companies have produced. “There will be eight Teslas, 10 Teslas,” Gates said. “And only one of them is, is well known today.” The electric car company led by Elon Musk has doubled in value in the past year and is up over 2,000% in the past five years. “For the winners, anybody who invested in Tesla is feeling very smart,” Gates said.
He predicts the gains will be spread out over a wider swath of companies, beyond the electric vehicle space. “There will be, you know, Microsoft, Google, Amazon-type companies that come out of this space,” Gates said.
Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, while Amazon and Google were launched in the 1990s as the internet was taking off. They’re now three of the four most-valuable U.S. companies. Currently, Gates is worth $134.3 billion, according to Forbes.
Gates invests in clean tech through his firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which also counts Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Ray Dalio as investors.
While Gates is bullish on the sector, he said that a lot of money will get washed away, just as did when the internet bubble popped, adding that today it’s “like the early days of software and computing.” Gates said much of the technology is “at the lab level,” and that investors will need to be careful in assessing the economic viability of the idea. Also, many of the projects will need a lot of investment before they can be proven to work. Some things like nuclear fusion, nuclear fission and energy storage require “hundreds of millions or, in the case of nuclear, billions” of dollars to test out, he said. “You’re not quite sure whether” those technologies are “going to be able to contribute or not,” he said.
In addition to hefty capital commitments, climate tech needs governments to set “encouraging policies” that facilitate the adoption of zero-emissions technologies, he said. Investors wanting to put money into the space with less risk “can be part of financing solar fields,” he said. The more difficult markets to predict are direct air carbon capture, hydrogen, steel and aviation fuel.
“We will have a high failure rate,” Gates said. But there are enough ideas that “we have a likelihood of substantial success,” particularly with the right government assistance, he said. “Somebody who can’t afford risk or if you expect near term returns it’s, you know, I would look elsewhere,” Gates said.
Published by CNBC
Climate Finance and CleanTech
This website/platform is dedicated to matching a fast-growing Climate Finance industry with vast and high-return business opportunities in CleanTech in Eastern Europe/Ukraine. This will be done by sharing knowledge and experience about the climate financing and CleanTech investment opportunities. The Platform is based on a large network of independent senior experts in the area of energy strategy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate finance, fund structuring, ESG located in Kyiv, Oxford, London, Brussels, and Paris.
The founder of the platform – Sergiy Maslichenko – is an experienced climate finance director and strategist with over 20 years of experience in financing sustainable energy and devising energy and climate policies.
Sergiy has designed and implemented a number of novel products and programmes in renewable energy, energy efficiency, circular economy, and innovations. These include Ukraine Sustainable Energy Lending Facility (USELF), IQ Energy, FINTECC (Financing Clean Technologies Transfer), Climate Innovation Vouchers, Sustainable Bioenergy Value Chain Innovations, Ukraine Agribusiness Waste Residues Programme, Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) Fund and other programmes. Together they resulted in EUR 2 billion investments in Eastern Europe.
At the EBRD, Sergiy was responsible for implementation of the Bank’s Green Economy Transition (GET) strategy in over 30 countries of operations. He set up and managed the GET Ambassadors Network inside the Bank which promoted green agenda in those countries.
In 2017-2019 Sergiy was a Board Director at the Green for Growth Fund (GGF) – a Luxembourg-based impact investment fund owned by the EIB, KfW, EBRD, IFC, FMO, OeEB and private banks. The Fund invested EUR 600 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the Southeast Europe Region, including Turkey, the European Neighbourhood Region-East and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In 2019-2020 Sergiy joined a pro-reform Government of Ukraine as a Deputy Minister of Energy and Environment of Ukraine. He was responsible for the Ministry’s strategy work and led the preparation of Ukraine’s Green Energy Transition Strategy to 2050. After the Government dismissal, he left the Ministry and set up this investment and advisory platform “Climate Finance and CleanTech”.