Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is a private venture capital fund that was established as part of the broader Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC) in 2016. BEV's primary objective is to support and invest in innovative clean energy companies that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
BEV operates with a unique set of criteria to guide its investment decisions. It seeks technologies that can make a substantial impact, aiming for at least half a gigaton reduction in greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to about 1 percent of projected 2050 global emissions. This ambitious goal underscores BEV's commitment to investing in high-impact solutions.
The fund also focuses on investing in companies that can attract additional investment from other investors. Recognizing the need for collective efforts to drive the widespread adoption of clean energy technologies, BEV aims to not only provide financial support but also foster a collaborative ecosystem that encourages further investment and industry growth.
In 2015, the world was grappling with the urgent need to address climate change and transition to a more sustainable energy future. Recognizing the magnitude of the challenge and the potential of breakthrough technologies, Bill Gates, along with a group of like-minded high-net-worth individuals, founded the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC). Their vision was clear: to support and invest in innovative clean energy solutions that could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition's comprehensive approach, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) was established in 2016 as a private venture capital fund. Its mission was to provide the necessary financial support and long-term capital to early-stage companies working on cutting-edge clean energy technologies. With an initial target size of $1 billion, BEV set out to identify and nurture companies with the potential to revolutionize the energy landscape.
From the outset, BEV had a unique set of criteria guiding its investment decisions. The fund sought technologies that could have a substantial impact, aiming for at least half a gigaton reduction in greenhouse gases annually. By focusing on high-impact solutions, BEV aimed to contribute approximately 1 percent of the projected 2050 global emissions reduction.
BEV also recognized the importance of collaboration and attracting additional investment. It only invested in companies that showed the potential to attract other investors, understanding that widespread adoption of these technologies required a collective effort. By leveraging the network and expertise of its coalition members, BEV aimed to provide not just financial support but also strategic guidance and connections to help these companies thrive.
Furthermore, BEV emphasized scientific feasibility at scale. It worked closely with technologists to ensure that the technologies it invested in had a solid foundation and the potential for real-world application. This commitment to scientific rigour ensured that BEV's investments were grounded in reality and had a higher probability of success.
Another crucial aspect of BEV's approach was targeting areas of cleantech that were often overlooked by traditional investors. By filling this gap, BEV played a vital role in nurturing technologies that had significant potential but were considered too risky or unproven by mainstream investors. Its long-term investment horizon allowed BEV to incubate and develop technologies that others might have dismissed prematurely.
Since its inception, BEV has actively invested in a diverse range of companies focused on clean energy innovation. Its portfolio spans grid technologies, energy storage, sustainable agriculture, transportation, and more. By diversifying its investments, BEV ensures that it covers multiple aspects of the clean energy ecosystem, supporting a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change.
Breakthrough Energy follows specific investment criteria to identify and support companies that have the potential to make significant contributions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing clean energy solutions. The investment criteria are designed to ensure that the selected companies align with Breakthrough Energy's mission and have a high likelihood of success in driving sustainable change. Here are the key aspects of the Breakthrough Energy investment criteria:
- Emission Reduction Potential: Breakthrough Energy seeks to invest in companies whose technologies can lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The focus is on innovative solutions that have the potential to address emissions across various sectors, including agriculture, buildings, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation.
- Scalability and Impact: The selected companies should have scalable technologies or business models that can be deployed at a large scale and have a significant impact on emissions reduction. Breakthrough Energy aims to support solutions that can make a meaningful difference in the global transition to a low-carbon economy.
- Technical Viability: The technologies or approaches proposed by the companies should be technically feasible and have a clear pathway for development and commercialization. Breakthrough Energy evaluates the scientific basis, engineering feasibility, and potential barriers to the implementation of the proposed solutions.
- Market Potential: Breakthrough Energy considers the market potential of the technologies and the ability of the companies to effectively penetrate the market. This includes evaluating market demand, competitive advantages, and the potential for widespread adoption of the clean energy solutions.
- Team and Execution: The capabilities and experience of the company's management team are crucial factors in the investment decision. Breakthrough Energy assesses the team's expertise, track record, and ability to execute the proposed plans successfully.
- Long-Term Vision: Given the ambitious goals of addressing climate change, Breakthrough Energy focuses on investments with a long-term perspective. The selected companies should have the commitment and vision to drive sustained impact and navigate the challenges associated with scaling up and commercializing clean energy technologies.
Breakthrough Energy operates based on a set of core values that guide its mission and approach to addressing the global challenges of climate change and the transition to clean energy. These values reflect the organization's commitment to making a positive impact on the environment and society as a whole. Here are some key values embraced by Breakthrough Energy:
- Innovation: Breakthrough Energy believes in the power of innovation to drive transformative change. They recognize that solving complex problems requires thinking outside the box and exploring new ideas, technologies, and approaches. By supporting cutting-edge research and investing in breakthrough technologies, Breakthrough Energy fosters innovation that can disrupt traditional systems and accelerate the transition to clean energy.
- Science and Evidence: Breakthrough Energy emphasizes the importance of science and evidence-based decision-making. They rely on rigorous scientific research and data-driven analysis to identify the most effective solutions and strategies for mitigating climate change. By letting science lead the way, Breakthrough Energy aims to ensure that their actions are grounded in the best available knowledge and expertise.
- Collaboration and Partnerships: Breakthrough Energy recognizes that addressing the challenges of climate change requires collective effort and collaboration. They actively seek partnerships with governments, businesses, philanthropists, researchers, and other stakeholders to leverage diverse perspectives and expertise. By working together, Breakthrough Energy aims to amplify impact and drive systemic change at a global scale.
- Equity and Access: Breakthrough Energy is committed to ensuring that the benefits of clean energy and sustainable solutions are accessible to all. They strive to address energy poverty and promote social equity by supporting solutions that can provide affordable, reliable, and clean energy to underserved communities around the world. Breakthrough Energy aims to create a future where everyone can thrive, regardless of their socioeconomic background or geographic location.
- Long-Term Vision: Breakthrough Energy takes a long-term view of the energy transition and the fight against climate change. They recognize that achieving net-zero emissions and creating a sustainable future will require sustained commitment and persistence. By investing in technologies with longer timeframes for return on investment and advocating for policies that encourage long-term sustainability, Breakthrough Energy demonstrates its dedication to creating lasting positive change.
The mission of Breakthrough Energy is to accelerate the transition to a net-zero carbon economy and address the urgent challenges of climate change. The organization recognizes that the world needs innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Breakthrough Energy aims to mobilize resources, drive innovation, and build partnerships to create a sustainable and prosperous future for all.
At its core, Breakthrough Energy is dedicated to supporting the development, commercialization, and deployment of breakthrough technologies that can significantly reduce carbon emissions across key sectors such as agriculture, buildings, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation. By focusing on these areas, Breakthrough Energy aims to transform the way we produce, consume, and utilize energy, ultimately leading to a net-zero carbon economy.
The Breakthrough Energy portfolio encompasses a diverse range of companies and projects that are at the forefront of clean energy innovation. With a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the transition to a sustainable future, the portfolio consists of ventures spanning various sectors and technologies. Here are some key highlights of the Breakthrough Energy portfolio:
- Clean Energy Generation: The portfolio includes companies involved in renewable energy generation, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. These companies are developing innovative technologies and solutions to increase the efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of clean energy generation.
- Energy Storage: Breakthrough Energy invests in companies that are advancing energy storage technologies, including next-generation batteries and advanced energy storage systems. These technologies play a crucial role in integrating renewable energy sources into the grid and ensuring a reliable and flexible energy supply.
- Sustainable Transportation: The portfolio includes companies focused on developing electric vehicles (EVs), charging infrastructure, and other solutions for sustainable transportation. These companies are working to reduce emissions from the transportation sector and promote the widespread adoption of EVs.
- Grid Technologies: Breakthrough Energy supports companies that are revolutionizing the electrical grid through advanced grid management systems, smart grid technologies, and grid-scale energy storage solutions. These innovations enable a more efficient, reliable, and resilient grid, supporting the integration of renewable energy sources and optimizing energy distribution.
- Energy Efficiency: The portfolio features companies dedicated to improving energy efficiency in various sectors, including buildings, manufacturing, and industrial processes. These companies develop technologies and solutions that reduce energy consumption, optimize resource utilization, and minimize environmental impact.
- Sustainable Agriculture: Breakthrough Energy invests in companies that are transforming the agricultural sector by developing sustainable farming practices, precision agriculture technologies, and innovations in food production and distribution. These initiatives aim to reduce emissions from agriculture, improve resource efficiency, and promote sustainable food systems.
- Carbon Capture and Utilization: The portfolio includes companies involved in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies. These companies are developing innovative solutions to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and power generation, as well as exploring ways to utilize captured carbon for valuable products.
- Advanced Materials and Manufacturing: Breakthrough Energy invests in companies focused on developing advanced materials and manufacturing processes that reduce emissions and enhance sustainability across various industries. These innovations contribute to cleaner production processes, reduced waste, and increased resource efficiency.
Rodi Guidero ( Executive Director, Breakthrough Energy & Managing Partner, Breakthrough Energy Ventures )
Aaron Bernstein (Vice President, Partnerships)
Mike Boots (Executive Vice President, Breakthrough Energy)
Mario Fernandez (Head of Catalyst )
Ashley Grosh (Vice President)
Aliya Haq (Vice President, U.S. Policy and Advocacy)