By: John Gilleland, Ph.D, Chief Technology Officer
Climate change is forcing nations around the world to drastically reduce carbon emissions. This goal requires development of alternate sources of energy. The climate challenge is immense: scientists agree that 2⁰ Celsius is the limit of acceptable increase in carbon dioxide in the Earth’s temperature. In addition, any rise in sea level will harm poorer nations far more than more developed nations. But how can countries turn down the global thermostat and still make sure those who need it get the resources they need to climb out of energy poverty?
Right now, 50,000 delegates from more than 180 countries are meeting in Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) to discuss how to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. Two major initiatives were announced last week, forming the foundation of a public-private partnership to fight climate change.
One is a government program, Mission Innovation, which calls for 20 countries double their national investments in clean energy research and development over the next five years. The other is a private clean energy R&D initiative, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, led by more than two dozen wealthy individuals from 10 countries – including TerraPower Chairman Bill Gates, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other CEOs. This Coalition will focus on early-stage innovations, with the goal of soliciting private investors to fund clean energy programs.
The White House blog praised news of the two new initiatives, emphasizing the importance of limiting the rise in global temperatures. According to the authors, “the influx of private and public capital from these two initiatives will make a real difference in meeting this (climate change) challenge.”
To those of us at TerraPower, it is very encouraging that national and business leaders are coming together to fund solutions to these problems. TerraPower’s overarching mission is to bring people around the world out of energy poverty while minimizing the impact on nature. Many solutions are needed to achieve this. Advanced nuclear, like TerraPower’s traveling wave reactor, provides just one of many answers. Our technology solution is designed to provide significant amounts of zero-carbon energy, a clean energy technology for the 21st century. We are excited for others to enter the field.