Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy, EU establish $114 million clean energy fund

The pilot fund aims to help European companies develop clean energy technologies and bring them to market.

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Microsoft co-founder and Breakthrough Energy Ventures Chairman Bill Gates is partnering with the European Commission to establish the Breakthrough Energy Europe investment fund.

John Thys / AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission and Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures launched a 100 million-euro ($114.57 million) clean energy investment fund Wednesday. Called Breakthrough Energy Europe, the pilot fund is designed to help companies there develop clean energy technologies and bring them to market.

It's part of an effort to fight climate change and "deliver on the Paris Agreement -- giving a strong signal to capital markets and investors that the global transition to a modern and clean economy is here to stay," the European Commission said in a news release

Gates serves as chairman of investor-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which has contributed more than $1 billion toward companies working to eliminate emissions in electricity, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and buildings. 

"To stop the planet from getting substantially warmer, we need breakthroughs in how we make things, grow food, and move people and goods -- not just how we power our homes and cars," Gates said in a Wednesday blog post

He added that Breakthrough Energy Ventures' mission would "get a big boost" from the European partnership. Half of the committed 100 million euros will come from the European Commission and the other half from Breakthrough Energy Ventures. 

"We need new technologies to avoid the worst impacts of climate change," Gates said in the release. "Europe has demonstrated valuable leadership by making impressive investments in R&D. The scientists and entrepreneurs who are developing innovations to address climate change need capital to build companies that can deliver those innovations to the global market. Breakthrough Energy Europe is designed to provide that capital."

Breakthrough Energy Europe could be a model for initiatives in other areas, the European Commission said in the release. 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it's imperative that Europe modernize its economy and industry to protect the planet.

"Pooling public and private investment in new, innovative clean energy technology is key to enabling long-term solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Juncker said. 

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