12/16/2016

Going All In on Clean Energy

5:14 minutes

Bill Gates, via Shutterstock
Bill Gates, via Shutterstock

With inauguration day just around the corner, many U.S scientists and engineers wonder if the next administration will continue to pay for developments in clean energy research. Starting next year, however, the federal government won’t be the only big funder in the game. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and a cadre of mega-wealthy investors have come together to create the Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund, which will invest $1 billion in clean energy research starting next year.

The downside? Clean energy hasn’t exactly provided great returns for investors in the past. According to an MIT study of venture capitalist investment in clean energy, firms invested more than $25 billion from 2006-2011—and lost more than half of that money. The study’s authors call the VC model for clean energy “broken.”

Quartz co-founder and editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney joins Ira to discuss the good and the bad of making a big bet on clean energy.

Segment Guests

Kevin Delaney

Kevin Delaney is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Quartz, based in New York, New York.

Meet the Producer

About Katie Hiler

Katie Hiler is an assistant producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie.