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Clean jet fuel should be more like a microwave oven

CNM Environment Series

  •  Bill Gates 

Many clean energy innovations available today – like wind, solar, and lithium-ion batteries – are starting to compete with the emissions-intensive technologies they were designed to replace. After decades of research, development, demonstration, and deployment, these technologies are now cheap enough for productive markets to help them get to scale.

We can’t wait decades for the next generation of clean technologies to become competitive with fossil-fuel incumbents. Meeting our climate goals and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 means transforming our entire physical economy, and that will require accelerating the innovation pipeline at an unprecedented pace. We have to invest heavily now to bring down the costs of critical clean technologies. And we need to build the creative financing structures that will help them develop and deploy more quickly. That’s why we’ve launched Catalyst. We’re working with partners across the public and private sectors to provide a platform for rapidly commercializing emerging technologies. Through a creative, blended financing approach, Catalyst will make targeted investments into clean technology projects to significantly decrease the price of new clean products, increase their availability in the market, and demonstrate how to finance the infrastructure of decarbonization at scale.

Catalyst will start by focusing on four critical technologies for decarbonization:

  • Direct air capture (DAC)
  • Green hydrogen
  • Long-duration energy storage (LDS)
  • Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

These clean innovations have already proven their potential at a small scale, but right now, the timelines to go to commercial scale are still way too long. They are at the critical moment where an influx of capital can turn them into viable commercial products much more quickly.

Catalyst is jumpstarting this process by raising money from philanthropists, governments, and companies looking for ways to transition to cleaner business models. We will use a blended financing facility to make the large capital investments needed to bring down the cost of these emerging technologies and help businesses negotiate agreements with suppliers by buying down any remaining extra cost associated with the clean product. (We call this the Green Premium). We expect investments in these early commercial projects will help technologies mature to the point where private markets and public policy will bring them to scale.

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