Gates told the Financial Times that current renewable technologies would only be able to reduce CO2 emissions at “beyond astronomical cost”.

Instead, he wants Governments to support new ideas such as high altitude wind power, which uses tethered kites and gliders to capture the high-speed winds circling the atmosphere at 20,000 feet.

He also highlighted the potential of ‘solar chemical’ power, which creates an artificial version of photosynthesis to produce hydrocarbons, as well as Travelling Wave Reactors, which use nuclear waste to produce energy.

Gates himself claims to have invested $1bn in renewable technologies like these and says he plans to double that investment over the next five years to help “bend the curve in combating climate change”.

Market failure

Global clean energy investment totalled $310bn in 2014, the highest amount since 2011 and a year-on-year growth of 16%.

However the majority of this is ploughed into flawed existing technology, such as solar, which is Gates says he supports public intervention to correct the market failure.

The approval of the world’s richest man will no doubt provide a major boost to the Global Apollo Plan, launched in June, which encourages countries to ramp up public spending on renewables R&D from $6bn to $150bn in the next 10 years.


Back in January, Gates drank water procured from human waste, in an attempt to publicise a new form of sewage treatment which could improve sanitation in developing countries.

His company Microsoft has also tried to raise awareness of global water issues, developing a new mobile app which gamifies water-saving activities and educates users on the positive impacts that reduced water consumption can have across the world. 

Brad Allen

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