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Business

Bill Gates to double green energy investments

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said he plans to double his investment in wild-eyed yet potentially game-changing renewable energy projects - and has urged governments to do the same.

When it comes to tackling climate change, Bill Gates' visions for the future are quite literally sky-high.

Predicting that his personal investments into novel green technologies could double to $2 billion (1.78 billion euros) over the next five years, Gates said that one of the companies he is betting on is a pioneer of high-altitude wind power.

To get a sense of what that means, picture flying wind turbines, kites or kite balloons that tap the energy of the jet stream at 20,000 feet.

"I wish governments would help those guys out because there's a 10-percent change it's the magic solution," Gates told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday.

Nuclear recycling

But floating power stations were just one of the potentially revolutionary innovations Gates touted as he applauded governments, the United Nations and environmental protection advocates for raising

awareness of climate change

.

He said he has poured about $1 billion into dozens of nascent companies developing futuristic solutions for battery storage, artificial photosynthesis and nuclear reactors that run on depleted - as opposed to enriched - uranium.

That last one could be especially relevant as countries struggle to find suitable locations for disposing of spent nuclear fuel.

Gates also said he had already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in companies pursuing "nuclear recycling," the lion's share of which has gone to a company called TerraPower that develops reactors capable of going decades without refueling because they run on their own waste.

Power plants from plant power

Another area of interest included "solar chemical" power, which is based on the process plants use to make food. In this case, artificial devices would absorb sunlight and use it to extract hydrogen from water and then convert it into fuel.

But as far as the world's richest man is concerned, the best way to promote such innovation - and ultimately find the silver bullet for climate change - is for governments to spend more on research and development and less on

subsidies

in the renewables sector.

"Because there's so much uncertainty and there are so many different paths, it should be like the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project in the sense that the government should put in a serious amount of R&D," Gates said.

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