Breakthrough Energy is more than our name - it’s our mission. We operate a range of initiatives and programs to catalyze technological transformation by supporting promising, scalable clean innovations at every step of their development and rollout. We help inventors and entrepreneurs find partners and funding, build new tools and models to help us understand where innovation is needed, and push governments and the private sector to boost innovation wherever they can.
Energy innovation cannot happen without the help of governments around the world.
The public sector funds basic research, translate that research into investment-worthy projects, regulate technologies as they are deployed in the market, and encourage consumers and companies to make choices that will get us to zero.
At Breakthrough Energy, we provide governments with smart, adaptable policies that can accelerate innovation from lab to market. We also bring governments together with corporations and investors to encourage cross-sector collaboration towards reducing emissions across the global economy.
Given its historic contributions to global innovation and leadership, large economy, and considerable impact on greenhouse gas emissions (roughly 15 percent of the global total), the United States has a responsibility to lead the world toward a clean energy transition. It’s critical that American policymakers align policy, technology, and market incentives toward net-zero emissions.
Breakthrough Energy works with policymakers at all levels of U.S. government to advance policy solutions that will accelerate technological development, get clean technologies to market, and help the world achieve our mid-century decarbonization goals.
In Canada, we are working in partnership with the government to inspire and support Canadian innovators working to commercialize zero-GHG technologies. Announced in May 2019 with an initial investment of up to $30 million, Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) is helping Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Energy Innovation Program to accelerate the development and rollout of clean energy technologies in the electricity, transportation, building, and manufacturing sectors.
The European Commission has already demonstrated great leadership by committing to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. As EU leaders, Member States, and the UK continue their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the continent, the Breakthrough Energy-Europe team is actively working with policymakers and stakeholders to ensure innovation and investing in clean technologies – from green hydrogen to direct air capture to long duration storage – are part of the discussion.
At the 2015 Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, standing alongside President Barack Obama, President François Hollande, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our founder Bill Gates announced an historic commitment by 24 nations to prioritize innovation in clean energy. In 2019, these Mission Innovation countries, along with the European Commission, invested an additional $4.6 billion to support the development of new and enhanced low-emissions technologies. Through policy, partnerships, and targeted investment in potentially transformative tools and technologies, Breakthrough Energy is helping to advance Mission Innovation around the world.
Many countries (such as the signers of the Paris Climate Agreement) and some U.S. states (such as California and New York) have already developed ambitious goals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in the next two decades.
But too often, plans to reach these admirable goals don’t include a practical path forward.
To meet this challenge, Breakthrough Energy is assembling a team of top scientists and technologists to develop the tools to find the best evidence-based approaches to actually meeting emissions targets. The Breakthrough Energy Sciences team will build software tools and serve as the knowledge repository for all our programs, policies, and investments.
Our first publicly available tool, the Breakthrough Energy Grid Modeling Project, is a sophisticated, open-source, high-resolution synthetic model of the U.S. energy grid. The Grid Model can help researchers, policymakers, and advocates identify where new infrastructure is needed to maximize clean energy production - and simulate the gains from implementing clean energy technologies such as energy storage, offshore wind, and HVDC (high voltage direct current) connections.
Over time, Breakthrough Energy Sciences will develop more tools and partnerships to help the world reach net-zero emissions and clean energy for all.
The Breakthrough Energy Fellows program will find and support amazing individuals and teams working to develop, scale, and commercialize technologies that have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by at least 500 million tons per year by 2050.
The program is designed to ensure early-stage innovations have the resources they need to reach a path to commercialization. In some cases, this may mean nurturing ideas until they are ready for venture capital investment. In others, it may mean enabling technology acquisition, non-traditional financing, government partnerships, joint ventures, or other pathways. As a philanthropic program, Fellows will contribute to the field by sharing learnings and publishing information related to their research independently or in collaboration with the Breakthrough Energy Foundation, to increase the body of knowledge available to the public regarding key solutions for mitigating climate change.
The 2021 Breakthrough Energy Fellows cohort will focus on hydrogen, electrofuels, cement, steel, and fertilizer.
Our Fellowships at a Glance
The Breakthrough Energy Fellows program will provide non-dilutive, patient capital to support innovators on their path to commercialization. The program will provide innovators a stipend for living expenses, non-dilutive funding for technology and product development, access to scientific and business expertise, investors, policy experts, and our world-class network of partners.
The 2021 Breakthrough Energy Fellows cohort will focus on hydrogen, electrofuels, and cement, steel, and fertilizer, and its members will be sourced from leading research institutions in North America, Europe, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. Over time, the program’s geographic area will expand, as will its technology focus areas. The program launches in early 2021, with the first cohort of fellows starting in September.
Types of Breakthrough Energy Fellows
- Innovator Fellows are world-leading scientists and engineers ready to commercialize their critical climate technology.
- Business Fellows are experienced professionals who want to build a commercial venture in the climate space.
- Teams who have already formed may also participate.
Breakthrough Energy Catalyst is a first-of-its-kind program to demonstrate how we can finance, produce, and buy the new solutions that will underpin a low carbon economy.
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. These technologies are now cheap enough for productive markets to help them get to scale. But the decline in price for all these technologies took decades, and more investment earlier could have brought down costs faster.
That’s why we’re working with government, corporate, philanthropic, and finance partners to build Catalyst, a program designed to reduce the “Green Premium” – the difference between the price of a carbon-emitting technology and its clean alternative. While critical clean technologies may become cheaper over time, we cannot wait for traditional innovation cycles to play out if we are going to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Through a creative, blended financing approach Catalyst will accelerate investment into new clean products, increase their availability in the market, and demonstrate how to finance the infrastructure of decarbonization at scale. We will focus on technologies at a critical turning point where an influx of capital can turn them into viable commercial products much more quickly, including:
- Sustainable aviation fuel to help businesses and individuals reduce emissions from air travel
- Green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels across the transportation and manufacturing sectors
- Long duration energy storage to provide grid reliability and enable deep penetration of renewables
- Direct air capture to provide a durable and scalable technology for carbon removal
Over time, Catalyst will expand this framework to other technologies, like low-carbon steel and cement, and build a platform for getting other necessary innovations to scale. We will deploy grants, loans, and equity investment to bring down the cost of these emerging technologies and create access to the markets they will need to be successful.
As part of the program, we are also developing a new system to measure impact, the Catalyzed Emissions Reduction Framework, that will reward leadership in funding climate technology deployment. In the coming months, we are committed to publicly sharing the research, analyses, and other information on the innovations from the program.