Energy News Today

Gates gives hope to Houston in early CERAWeek session



During a wide-ranging discussion about green energy options and costs, Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates opened CERAWeek by IHS Markit with opinions that could have been targeted at the Houston area.

“Electricity is really valuable when it’s totally reliable,” said Gates, author of a new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. “Growing that network and maintaining that reliability is vastly important.”

Gates’ discussion with IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin appeared to have been pre-recorded, since the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t mention the massive power failure during a winter storm this month that paralyzed Texas this month, killing dozens and leaving millions without power and water.

But when asked to discuss electricity, Gates told Yergin that maintaining reliability is key to the future of power, even in a world fighting the effects of climate change. Keeping electricity flowing is so important that nuclear power, often criticized for its dangers, should be available to help keep the lights on.

Gates emphasized the importance of enlarging power grids in the U.S. and around the world to help reduce global reliance on fossils and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said the world’s power grid needs to be three times larger but without raising the price of electricity.

“This model will show we need a lot more transmission,” Gates said. “(Power companies) should be very excited. These guys should be going ‘Hallelujah’.”

While the transition to cleaner forms of energy has been seen as a threat to the fossil fuel industry that made Houston the Energy Capital of the World, Gates said the existing expertise in the industry will be necessary as the world looks for ways to produce cleaner sources of energy, such as moving hydrogen.

“Can you use pipelines to move green hydrogen?” Gates offered as an example of incorporating current technology in the transition. “There are skill sets that these (fossil fuel) companies can bring.”

Gates has invested billions of dollars into efforts to find cleaner sources of energy, investing in startups that have shown potential to succeed at such things as capture and store carbon, produce more efficient ways to store energy with batteries and advance forms of biofuels for aviation.

“Things have never changed as fast as we’re asking them to change,” he said. And the cost to do so will rise into the trillions of dollars, including the premiums that consumers will pay for cleaner products such as electric cars. Furthermore, he said, efforts to provide poor countries around the globe with clean forms of energy will require subsidies from rich nations such as the U.S.

“We have to innovate for the entire world,” he said.

The ongoing pandemic, which has killed 2.5 million people around the world in just more than a year, provides a lesson to world leaders about the growing threat of climate change.

“It reminds people,” he said, “I need government to think ahead.”



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2021-03-01 10:12:01

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