Bill Gates pledges $1.5B for climate projects in infrastructure bill
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has pledged $1.5 billion from his climate investment fund to collaborate with the federal government on renewable energy projects if the White House-backed infrastructure package becomes law.
The package, which passed the Senate 69-30 this week, includes $25 billion for the Energy Department as well as over $100 billion toward improved grid resilience and incentives for transportation electrification.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gates said it would be “critical” for any clean-energy initiatives to “get the costs down and to be able to scale them up to a pretty gigantic level.”
“You’ll never get that scale up unless the government’s coming in with the right policies, and the right policy is exactly what’s in that infrastructure bill,” he added.
Projects sponsored by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy would still have to beat out other applicants for project funding. Gates told the Journal that the organization would likely redirect the bulk of the funds to Asian and European efforts if the infrastructure package fails to pass.
“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 Thursday. “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 announcement comes after Granholm confirmed earlier this year that the Biden administration would continue an Obama-era program that provided loans to the private sector for renewable energy development. The program was widely criticized by Republicans for its loan to the now-defunct solar energy firm Solyndra, but also provided a loan to Tesla, which later fully repaid its loan.