Billionaires investing based on energy needs of a future highly urban global middle class

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition created Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is investing in breakthrough energy storage technologies as its first investments.

The Board has Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, John Doerr, Ray Dalio, Vinod Khosla, Jack Ma (Alibaba), Masayoshi Son (Softbank), Ms. Zhang Xin & Mr. Pan Shiyi and others.

They invested in :

Quidnet Energy

Quidnet improves pumped hydro energy storage. They pump water underground in shale rock to create pressure, later harnessing the water to run turbines. Form Energy is developing new types of battery chemistries that it says can store renewable energy for longer periods of time at low cost.

Quidnet Energy pioneered a novel form of pumped hydro that is widely deployable at very low cost called Flex Formation Subsurface Pumped Hydro.

Pumped hydro is huge in China.

Quidnet has 5 – 30 MW modular configurations for flexible and precise deployment onto the grid. Their pumped hydro electricity storage without need for mountains, lakes, or pre-existing underground caverns.

The energy-storing rock bodies are non-petroleum bearing and found abundantly throughout the world, intersecting with major electricity transmission and distribution hubs.

Form Energy

Form Energy is designing a new type of battery that could store renewable energy for months at a time at a fraction of the current cost. Lithium-ion batteries are still too expensive for cheap utility storage.

Form Energy is still finding the best combination of chemicals. They plan to start large-scale prototypes to test on the grid within the next few years. Cheap storage will solve the issue that solar only generates power for a few hours a day.

Megatrend beliefs of the World’s top billionaires

The following five trends are a foundation of what they think will shape the next fifty years:

RISE OF VERY LOW-COST INTERMITTENT ELECTRICITY

Over the past 10 years, the cost of wind and solar power has plummeted, providing some of the least expensive power in world history. The challenge is that wind and solar power are intermittent; they don’t work when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. What opportunities does the ultra-cheap availability of these resources offer?

THE EMERGENCE OF A BURGEONING MIDDLE CLASS

The rate of increase of the middle class, in absolute numbers, is approaching an all-time high. This will lead to significant increases in consumption on several fronts. There is a direct correlation between per capita GDP and per capita energy use. This pattern is clearly visible in satellite images of countries at night: the richer an area, the brighter it blazes. There is also a strong relationship between income and diet. As wealth increases, so does the consumption of calories and meat. The global cattle industry is a leading producer of greenhouse gases. If cows were a country, they would be the world’s third-largest emitters. How can we help vast numbers of people lead middle-class lifestyles without changing the climate?

INCREASING URBANIZATION

More than 200,000 people in the world move to cities every single day. As the middle class grows, this trend will accelerate, and the demand for power will accelerate with it. Just a decade ago, more people lived in rural than in urban areas. In 30 years, however, 7 in 10 people on the planet will live in cities. The changes required in the built environment will be massive. How can we build future megacities without pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere?

AUTONOMY, THE INTERNET OF THINGS, AND DISTRIBUTED EVERYTHING

Continually expanding network capabilities present an enormous opportunity to use energy more efficiently. A system of self-driving vehicles, for example, will be able to move cars around in ways that are more efficient and use less energy than today’s transportation systems. A building that knows what temperature it is outside can adjust its energy consumption accordingly. What other opportunities for efficiency and reducing emissions does an increasingly sophisticated network create?

AMPLE SUPPLY OF FOSSIL RESOURCES

For decades, the energy industry has been worried that the world will run out of fossil fuels. Given current projections, however, the energy sources that create climate change today are likely to stay available and inexpensive. The market will continue to favor fossil energy until clean energy is cheaper. What will it take to make clean energy as affordable?

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