Bill Gates Still Looking for an Energy Miracle

This is not the first time Bill Gates has discussed the need for an energy miracle to solve what he considers to be the critical need to avoid climate catastrophe, but a new interview in the November issue of the Atlantic shows that Gates is as concerned as ever about finding a way to cut carbon emissions to zero. The full text can be read here — but below are some of the key points he makes.

The free market can’t deliver a new energy technology fast enough because there’s no fortune to be made. “The incentive to invest is quite limited, because unlike digital products—where you get very rapid adoption and so, within the period that your trade secret stays secret or your patent gives you a 20-year exclusive, you can reap incredible returns—almost everything that’s been invented in energy was invented more than 20 years before it got scaled usage.”

Solar and wind, although growing very quickly still have a major problem with intermittancy, and energy storage is very hard to do at the scales needed. “There are many people working on storage—batteries are a form of storage, and there’s a few others, like compressed air, hot metals. But it’s not at all clear that we will get grid-scale economic storage. We’re more than a factor of 10 away from the economics to get that.”

Only an energy miracle can solve this dilemma “That’s why we really need to solve that dilemma, we need innovation that gives us energy that’s cheaper than today’s hydrocarbon energy, that has zero CO2 emissions, and that’s as reliable as today’s overall energy system. And when you put all those requirements together, we need an energy miracle.”

Gates is optimistic because of his faith in human ingenuity and innovation “I want to call up India someday and say, “Here’s a source of energy that is cheaper than your coal plants, and by the way, from a global-pollution and local-pollution point of view, it’s also better.”

We know that Bill Gates has shown some interest in cold fusion because of his visit to ENEA in Italy last year where he was briefed by cold fusion scientists there. We know that he sees ‘new nuclear fission’ as a solution, as he is a major investor in Terrapower, a company developing a travelling wave reactor which runs on nuclear waste.

Of all the new energy technologies out there, the E-Cat would seem to be the one that most closely fits what he thinks the world needs. It would seem that the energy miracle that Gates is hoping for could already be on the scene. To me it seems more than likely that Bill Gates is aware of the E-Cat. We know that Lowell Wood, who advises Gates on energy technology, was at the ICCF19 conference in Padua where Tom Darden spoke. However, Gates is not saying anything about it in public, so maybe he is not convinced of its viability.

It should be noted that even Andrea Rossi is not celebrating success at this point; he says that there is still more work to be done, and that “until something remains to be done, it is as if nothing has been done.”