Monday, June 29, 2015

Bill Gates To Help Fight Climate Change By Investing Up To $2 Billion In Green Technology

 VIA     Huffington Post         |  By
Bill Gates speaks during the Forbes' 2015 Philanthropy Summit Awards Dinner on June 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images) | Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images
The Supreme Court may have dealt a crushing blow this week to President Barack Obama's efforts to curb climate change, but all is not lost.
Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates announced plans to spend up to $2 billion on innovative renewable technologies over the next five years. In an interview with the Financial Times (paywall), Gates said he hopes to "bend the curve" through the cultivation of "breakthrough" technologies, doubling an already impressive billion-dollar investment. He has so far written checks to 15 green companies, he said, and has contributed venture capital funds to another 30.
In the interview, Gates calls for far greater funding for renewable research, saying investment "should be like the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project in the sense that the government should put in a serious amount of R&D." He pointed to the drawbacks of now-commonplace technologies like solar, which can only provide power during the day.
"There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables and be able to use battery storage in order to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it’s cloudy and you don’t have sun or you don’t have wind," he said.
Despite the recent Supreme Court ruling that undercut the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants, the U.S. has been making strides in the fight against climate change.
The Huffington Post's Kate Sheppard notes the EPA is finishing up rules that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants, which should be finalized in the coming weeks. And the president has come out swinging against the warming phenomenon, citing the hazards against American's health and a risk to national security.
Renewable energy is expected to draw trillions in investment over the next quarter century, but the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has come under fire before for some aspects of its climate activism.
The Guardian notes the Gates Foundation has yet to announced any plans to divest its portfolio from fossil fuels, despite similar moves from the likes of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the government of Norway. The Gates Foundation has $1.4 billion invested in fossil fuel companies including BP, according to 2013 tax filings.
You can read Gates' entire interview at the Financial Times.

Angie’s List: Investing In Solar Energy

BY Susan Koeppen
A nationally known, award-winning journalist, Susan Koeppen co-anc...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Brett Johnson loves his home and plans to be in it the rest of his life.
He also loves saving money, which is why he decided to invest in a rooftop renewable energy system.
“We decided to put in the solar panels primarily because the price of electricity is something I don’t see as ever going down, and this is a hedge against that,” said Johnson.
“If you have been thinking about solar panels, now is a good time to go ahead and install them because there is a federal tax credit in place right now for 30 percent back on the entire project installation if it’s done by Dec. 31 of 2016,” said Angie Hicks of Angie’s List.
Financial incentives helped solar energy projects surge to record levels in 2014, including a 51 percent increase in residential systems. The cost of the panels themselves has decreased by 80 percent in recent years, also driving the demand.
“What we’re looking to do in most cases is maximize the ROI, so how fast can I pay this system off? So we generally design with that major, with that in mind rather,” said Jeff Cole, an energy solutions expert.
According to energy experts, your return on investment can now be accomplished in as little as seven to 10 years. Most systems are installed on rooftops, but the panels can also be placed on pergolas, gazebos or even on the ground. Regardless where they’re installed, they provide clean energy and are virtually maintenance-free.
“Almost all systems that are installed come with online monitoring,” says Cole. “The homeowner can get online from any computer in the world and see what their system’s producing, and based on a sunny day like today, this homeowner would expect to get online and see that their system is producing close to 100 percent.”
“I’m happy with what we did,” said Johnson. “I like the idea that it’s something that you pay for once that continues to produce and doesn’t degrade at a particularly quick rate.”