Bill Gates, famous billionaire philanthropist, discussed the need for “impatient optimism”” on climate change and global development last month during an interview at an international affairs think tank:
Question : If you go back ten years, are you more or less optimistic about where climate change is now or at that time?
Bill Gates: I’m certainly more optimistic because in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, there were so many emission zones where there was no activity…
Question : going back a decade ago, solar and wind were the most expensive sources of energy available to us. Since then, the price of solar energy has fallen by 90%, that of wind energy by 70%, and electric vehicles are now economically viable… I know you are excited about innovation. What areas are you most passionate about when it comes to innovation?
Bill Gates: Among this portfolio of 100 companies, it is difficult to choose my favorite. Some are quite simple, like a company that makes windows where the temperature does not exceed, but keeps out the cold in winter or the heat in summer, which is very cheap. Or there’s a business where you leave your house and you pump this air out, but it has a chemical in it. When he sees cracks, he seals them. You don’t have to find the cracks; you just need to pump the air. You can reduce the amount of heat loss between windows and eliminate those cracks. You can reduce the energy bill by a factor of two, which then means less load on the entire energy system…
The ones made of cement and steel are, in a way, the ones that impress me the most, because I wasn’t sure that we would find anything in these spaces…
Question : The problem, I guess, with cement is that you’re basically taking limestone and then you’re converting it to calcium oxide. But the byproduct obtained during this conversion process is CO2. Basically you need a way to capture that CO2….
Bill Gates: When you heat limestone, it releases CO2. It’s exactly like you say, it’s an equal number of shows. One of our companies does not use limestone. They will actually look for another source of calcium, which fortunately turns out to be quite abundant and cheap. They make the exact same cement we make today, but without using limestone as an input. I was amazed that you could do that.
Gates also hopes to see nuclear power in an economically viable form. “The nuclear industry failed because its products were too expensive. It was not because of waste or safety issues, which we can address, but for economic reasons.”
Bill Gates: First and foremost, you need to have a very different economic proposition. The nuclear reactor that I’m involved in, TerraPower, we only produce electricity when renewable sources that have very little marginal cost are not producing. We just produce heat all day long, and only when the price of electricity is high enough do we actually produce electricity, because otherwise you have all this capital cost which is only half From time to time, solar supply in this market is going to be very slow.
I think we shouldn’t give up on fission. I’m only involved in this company because it might be able to make a significant contribution to (fighting) climate change… I can’t overstate how much easier it is to solve the problem if you can mix in some degree of fission. or fusion which are there to fill the periods when renewable energies are not producing. Cold snaps or cold fronts that stick around, that’s when homes need heating the most. This is when neither wind nor solar power is producing.