Billionaires are spending more on renewable energy, storage, and battery technology. A crowd of them even set up a US$1-billion fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, to help research in these areas, aiming “to make sure that everyone can enjoy a good model of living, including basic electricity, food, comfortable homes, and convenient transport, without contributing to climate change.” One big cause for this is that there is more technology to advance in.
“In the last few years, the number of technologies ripe for property has increased dramatically,” Wood Mackenzie’s director for energy storage, Ravi Manghani, told CNBC. “It’s no longer just three or four technology verticals.”
Thanks to this development in research areas, investors with a focus on a reliable energy future have a much wider choice of property targets. However, the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund is not j like online casinos, they don’t just toss money around.
The criteria include a focus on businesses that can make a marked impact on global eruptions—the potential to reduce at least 0.7 gigatons of greenhouse gases yearly—as well as ones that are also engaging for other investors besides the fund. Scientific utility at scale is another criterion, mostly because of the longer time it takes to bring a decent energy technology form the lab to market. The last one is dubbed “Filling the gaps” meaning the fund is more inclined to invest in research and development areas in the wider clean technology space that has stayed out of the light.
The fund is just one instance of a technology business that’s been at the forefront of the renewable revolution. Another recent example of this support for cleaner causes of energy was the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance aiming to encourage more businesses to switch from fossil fuel-sourced power to the output of wind, solar, and other renewable experts. This, in turn, would motivate the expansion of generating measure and eventually reduce the share of fossil combustibles in the energy mix, the founders of the company say.
Yet if Big Tech is behind cleaner energy, Big Banking seems to be still firm to fossil fuels, or maybe it simply likes the faster results. A recent report from a group of environmental organizations dubbed Banking on Climate Change found that even though property in renewable energy has been rising, so has the investment in fossil fuels from some of the largest groups in the world—the biggest lenders in the United States.
According to the report, the top lenders in the world had invested as much as US$2.9 trillion in the oil and gas trade between 2016 and 2018. The biggest fossil fuel advocates among these were all American banks, including Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Citi, and Bank of America.
The authors of the report argue this is weakening the fight against climate change. However, the existence of enterprises such as the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund and the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance suggests that renewables are not yet ready to completely replace oil and gas. This replacement will occur gradually even if the pace of tech improvements in the area stimulates.