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Tech titans form Breakthrough Energy Coalition
December 14, 2015, 1:01 pm

High-tech honchos and venture capitalists from around the world, along with one university, have officially announced their participation in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), a new fund to support companies doing clean energy research.

The group includes Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Kingdom Holding Company CEO Al-Waleed bin Talal, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, Soros Fund Management Chairman George Soros, Tata Trusts Chairman Ratan Tata, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, and the University of California.

The coalition will invest in electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial and agricultural energy use, and energy system efficiency. The goal is to help achieve a global near zero-emission energy future by helping companies profit from the acceleration of clean energy development, said Gates.

The BEC seeks projects developing new technologies as well as innovations making current technologies dramatically more efficient, more scalable or cheaper. Investments will focus on companies in the 20 countries participating in Mission Innovation. Of those companies, the United States, France, Germany, the UK, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and Mexico have pledged to double governmental or state-directed clean energy R&D investments over the next five years.

High-tech companies have strong incentives to push for clean energy. The global data center power market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.67 percent, from US$15 billion in 2014 to $24 billion by the end of 2019. Energy consumption and thermals are key concerns for the industry, which is why the focus on semiconductors is on efficiency.

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