Bill Gates @ TED: We Need An Energy Miracle

I love Twitter. As Bill Gates started his talk at TED, the exclusive tech conference, Twitter (#TED) exploded with amazing quotes and tidbits from a talk Bill Gates just gave on climate change and energy innovation. “Wanted: Energy Miracles,” read the screen that Gates presented on the screen at one point behind him (via twitterpics), as he said the world needs thousands of companies delivering innovation on clean power including solar thermal, solar PV, batteries and nuclear.

Unlike with information technology, there is a deadline for the innovation in clean power, and “We must innovate our way to zero CO2 emissions,” said Gates, (via @CNN). Greentech entrepreneur Bill Gross, who tweeted from TED, and whom Gates gave a shoutout to during his speech, said: “Bill Gates believes we have 20 years to invent and 20 years to deploy – that’s sort of the deadline we have to solve this crisis.” “If I only had 1 wish for the next 50 years, it’d be to invent the thing that halves the cost of CO2,” said Gates (via @CNN).

Gates addressed a few technologies specifically. He said we need more battery innovation: “All the batteries we make now store less than 10 min of all the energy (in world) ..we need a big breakthrough,” (via @CNN). He also gave a nod to nuclear power, and mentioned TerraPower, a nuclear reactor design that can use depleted uranium. He also said he is working on a nuclear company with Nathan Myhrvold.

While Gates speech was a very high-level overview of the climate change problem and energy innovation, clearly the members of the audience who were tweeting his quotes were inspired. “I’d rather see cheaper, clean energy developed than pick the next presidents or come up with a miracle vaccine,” said Gates at one point (via @CNN). “Bill Gates is the next Al Gore?” tweeted one audience member. At the end of the talk Gates received a standing ovation.

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