Europe’s gas supply and affordability crisis is actually “good for the long run,” Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates told CNBC on Tuesday. He explained that it would ultimately force the continent to embrace renewable energy, adding that “people won’t want to be dependent on Russian natural gas.”
Gates acknowledged that the public “did get a little optimistic about how quickly the transition [to renewables] could be done,” admitting the need to find “non-Russian hydrocarbon sources.”
Elaborating on the matter, the founder of climate-oriented venture capital fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures published an essay titled ‘State of the Energy Transition’ on his blog on the same day. Speaking about global greenhouse gas emissions, Gates noted that the ultimate goal of going “from 51 billion tons a year to zero” should be achieved “in the next three decades.”
The billionaire insisted it wouldn’t be right to “drain all the money away from [fossil fuel] sectors,” because “that’s how people get to work today, it’s how people avoid freezing to death in the winter.” However, he said, markets can’t be trusted to move toward renewables on their own — a “plan” is needed “to speed the process up.”
Describing his plan, he said new technologies to produce clean energy should be invented and scaled up in a “fair” manner that doesn’t leave developing countries in the lurch. It will be necessary to help people adjust to the new circumstances by funding industries such as ‘crop science’, which Gates and his Breakthrough Energy Ventures are invested in.
The EU recently agreed to cut gas demand by 15% this winter “in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia.’’
Earlier this month, however, Germany’s natural gas regulator revealed that the country had actually used 14.5% more gas in September than the five-year average, warning that a shortage would be unavoidable unless consumers cut back on their usage.