Billionaire Investors Have Conjured Up A Clean Energy Revolution
The clean energy revolution could be the perfect example of capital-driven innovation. While the underlying principles of greener fuels have been studied by researchers for decades, it’s only the past few years that investors and multi-billionaire entrepreneurs have enabled tangible breakthroughs.
Perhaps the example is Elon Musk’s success in making electric cars mainstream. Two years after Musk unveiled the Tesla Model S, electric vehicle sales were 0.4% of total sales across the world. Today, that ratio stands above 2.5% and by 2025 could reach 5.5%. In some countries, such as Norway, more than half of all new cars sold are electric with the most popular brand being a Tesla.
Musk’s success may have inspired another billionaire across the Atlantic. Sir James Dyson, Britain’s richest man, spent £500 million ($630 million) of his personal capital on creating an electric car (codenamed N526) that rivals Tesla’s models.
Bill Gates has been at the forefront of this revolution for just as long. In 2015, Gates created the Breakthrough Energy, a global group of 28 high net-worth investors from 10 countries committed to funding clean energy companies. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zukerberg, George Soros, Jack Ma, Marc Benioff, Sir Richard Branson and Reid Hoffman are just some of the co-investors who’re part of the coalition.
The group backs a range of intriguing environmental startups, including Pivot Bio – a supplier of nitrogen-producing microbial products for sustainable farming – and ZeroMass – a supplier of cutting-edge panels that produce clean drinking water from sunlight and air.
Even traditional investors like Warren Buffett are deeply involved in the green-energy transition. Buffett has deployed $200 million in a Calgary-based wind farm project and is a major shareholder in Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD.