Bill Gates: Traditional Renewable Energy is Not Enough, Basic Research Needs Funding.

Thanks to Georgehants for posting a link to an article from The Register here today regarding an interview Bill Gates conducted with the Financial Times on the topic of green energy production.

In the interview Gates praises the United Nations for raising awareness of the issue of climate change, but expresses concern that focusing on renewable sources of energy will not be able to meet the world’s energy needs, without incurring “beyone astronomic” costs, and says that government should move funding away from renewable energy sources, and into funding basic research in technologies that will be able to deliver less expensively.

Gates said: ““The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation . . . Innovation really does bend the curve.”

Regarding the solar/wind + storage scenario that has been discussed a lot lately — e.g. from Elon Musk — Gates said:

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“Solar is only during the day, solar only works best in places where it’s warm. We don’t have perfect grids. We don’t have storage. There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables and be able to use battery storage in order to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it’s cloudy and you don’t have sun or you don’t have wind . . . Power is about reliability. We need to get something that works reliably.”

We know that Bill Gates has looked into cold fusion/LENR, visiting the ENEA labs in Italy last year, but there was no mention of this in the interview. Maybe he does not think this is viable yet, or it is too controversial to mention. He does think that travelling wave nuclear reactors — which run on nuclear waste — have a lot of potential, and is an investor in TerraPower. He also mentioned using solar power to produce liquid hydrocarbons as a possible means of storing solar energy. Another idea he favors exploring is putting kite balloons or turbines into the jet stream to harness energy from the high winds there.

It does not sound to me like he is particularly enamored with LENR as a real alternative at this point. ENEA has been involved in palladium/deuterium cold fusion — which so far does not seem to be at a commercialization stage. Perhaps he is aware of Andrea Rossi’s work with the E-Cat, but so far it seems Bill Gates is in favor of nuclear fission processes over LENR.

Link to the Financial Times article is here (subscription may be required)

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