The European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures chaired by Bill Gates, announced Wednesday the establishment of a new €100 million fund to support clean energy investments in Europe.
First announced in October of 2018 when the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish Breakthrough Energy Europe, “a joint investment fund to help innovative European companies develop and bring radically new clean energy technologies to the market,” the final product was launched as Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe (BEV-E) during the Fourth Mission Innovation Ministerial meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
The fund will start life thanks to a €50 million contribution from the European Investment Bank (EIB) guaranteed by InnovFin — a financial instrument funded through the EU’s research and innovation program — and a second €50 million contribution from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investor-led fund committed to supporting cutting-edge companies in the energy sector, and chaired and spearheaded by Bill Gates. Breakthrough Energy Ventures also includes the involvement of financial heavyweights such as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe is a great example of driving innovative ways for the private and public sectors to collaborate, deploy capital, and build companies,” explained Bill Gates, Chairman of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “We have the resources to make a meaningful difference, and the flexibility to move quickly. That’s a rare and powerful combination.”
Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe will invest in five major energy-related sectors whose efforts are essential to fighting climate change, including electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings. Investments are expected to begin in the second half of 2019 when European Union Member States and countries associated with Horizon 2020 will be eligible to apply for funding.
“Business as usual is not an option,” declared Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission for the Energy Union. “We need to boost our investments with more than 500 billion euro each year to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050. I am pleased that our pilot cooperation with Breakthrough Energy has taken off so fast. This is pioneering work: aligning private and public investment in cutting-edge innovation, to the benefit of the Energy Union and our climate.”
The new €100 million fund will contribute to fulfilling the European Union’s commitments outlined in the Commission’s “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, a comprehensive update of the region’s energy policy framework intended to facilitate its transition to a low-carbon economy.