To provide everyone in the world with access to reliable, affordable power, food, goods, transportation, and services without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions will not be an easy job. Developing the tools we need will require broad investment across a landscape of innovation—and no investor or group of investors can do this alone. Breakthrough Energy is committed to encouraging a wide network of public and private capital to work together to solve the problem.
In order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to net-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—including how we grow and make things, keep warm and cool, and get from place to place. For the most part, these drivers fall into five main categories, which we call the Grand Challenges: electricity, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings.
To address these challenges, we need to develop and deploy new technologies in every corner of our global economy while still providing everyone in the world with access to reliable, affordable power, food, goods, transportation, and services.
The scope of these challenges is enormous, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. (For example, we have made great strides in bringing low-carbon energy innovations to market, while manufacturing and agriculture have further to go.) Yet we know that if we’re going to get to an emissions-free future in each of these areas by 2050, we’ll need to speed the cycle of innovation, invest more in research and development, and transform markets and policy to make new technologies affordable and reliable.
One key to helping solve all the Grand Challenges are a group of technologies broadly known as Carbon Management, including Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). CCUS can significantly reduce or eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants and industrial facilities that produce things like cement, steel, and fertilizer. CDR technologies like Direct Air Capture can pull CO2 directly out of the air. In both cases, the captured CO2 can be stored safely underground or turned into useful products. These Carbon Management technologies are critical to helping us meet our climate goals while we’re in the process of transitioning to low- and no-carbon forms of electricity, transportation, and manufacturing.
For each of the five Grand Challenges, we’ve identified areas where research, investment, and smart policy reforms can bring us closer to that future.
To provide reliable and affordable power without contributing to climate change we need to address emissions in five key areas: electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings. We have mapped out a landscape of innovation that we believe will help humanity meet those challenges.
Five grand challenges inform 55 technical quests.
Public investment in scientific research leads to innovations.
New companies and products bring innovations to market. Certain investments require flexible capital, like Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
We believe that our Grand Challenges are the five questions we need to answer to get to a future powered by clean energy.
How can we deliver reliable, affordable zero-carbon electricity to the world?
How can we get around our communities and the world without emitting carbon?
How can we feed the planet without contributing to climate change?
How can we make everything we use without emitting greenhouse gases?
How can we eliminate emissions from our homes, offices, hospitals, and schools?