Billionaire Bill Gates and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a $552 million (£400 million) partnership Tuesday aimed at bringing green technologies in the U.K. to market.
Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, an arm of Gates’ climate investment firm, will invest $276 million (£200 million) over the next ten years in green hydrogen, long-term energy storage, sustainable aviation fuels and direct air capture of carbon dioxide technologies. The investment matches a pledge already made by the U.K. government with the goal of commercializing these technologies and bringing the U.K. to net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Our partnership with the United Kingdom will accelerate the deployment of critical climate solutions, helping to make them more affordable and accessible,” Gates said in a statement. “In order to achieve net-zero emissions, we need to reduce the costs of clean technologies so they can compete with and replace the high-emitting products we use today.”
The announcement was made at the Global Investment Summit in London, which aims to promote the U.K. as a destination for big investors.
Breakthrough Energy did not immediately respond to questions from Forbes regarding which specific companies or projects the funds will go toward or how the recipients of the funding will be determined.
In August, Gates pledged to work with the U.S. government to fund similar programs to the tune of $1.5 billion. But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal at the time, he said Breakthrough Energy Catalyst would only commit the funds if Congress passes an infrastructure bill with a program aimed at funding climate-focused demonstration projects, which are small-scale projects used to “demonstrate” a technology’s impact. Without the law, he said, Breakthrough would likely move its biggest projects to Europe and Asia. Breakthrough did not immediately respond to questions from Forbes about whether the U.K. partnership represents this shift.
Gates is currently the fourth-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $133.6 billion, according to Forbes. Over the past decade, he’s made it a personal mission to combat climate change outside his work leading the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He published a book on the issue in February, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, advocating for backing new green technologies through public-private partnerships. In an interview about his book in early 2021, Gates told Forbes he’d invested $2 billion into companies working toward zero emissions and was planning to invest another $2 billion over the next five years. That’s a relatively small sliver of his overall fortune; in response, Gates said, “It’s more limited by what is out there that can have a high impact.”