The Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC): Innovation and action for a clean and carbon-neutral energy future

By | 2016-02-26

Late 2015 on November 30th was announced the launch of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition during COP21 in Paris. It is an international meeting orchestrated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where 21 influent governments joined to discuss environmental issues and plan new objectives in order to solve global warming.

What is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is led by a group of wealthy celebrity entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, etc. The reason of the coalition is to provide financial support and incentives to stimulate R&D in the clean energy sector, in order to innovate and find a “miracle” solution to fulfill our global energy demand without harming more our planet.

In short, according to the BEC, the energy must be widely available, reliable, affordable and carbon-neutral. For those interested, the coalition will be investing in “electricity generation and storage, transportation, industry, agriculture and energy system efficiency”.

Bill Gates affirms that in order to succeed globally, we need a “combination of private sector R&D, government action, and individual endeavor”. The coalition is therefore also sending a message to the public sector, which they think should invest more in the same energy scope of work.

Interestingly, in 2015 global investments in clean energy represented US $270 billion, a notable increase compared to precedent years, from which China injected US $89 billion and the United States US $51 billion.

How is biogas could help reach the BEC goals?

For the record, biogas respects every checkpoint the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is looking for, surpasses some, and much more:

  • It is more than carbon-neutral by reducing CH4 emissions, a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than CO2 for the atmosphere
  • It can produce heat in order to generate electricity
  • It can be used to cook
  • It can be used in transportation after being refined
  • It is obtained from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter, which is the general output of any agriculture of agro-industry venue, and it also reduces the amount of residual waste going to the landfill, literally wasting its energy, recuperation and reuse potential
  • It can be stored easily
  • It is a customizable solution, possible to be implemented domestically such as in developing countries, or industrially for cities or businesses
  • Once implemented, its system is easily maintained and operated, which is especially important in developing countries
  • It can be used in natural gas systems, which means necessary infrastructure for storage, transportation and consumption are already widely established

One can conclude that biogas may not be the solution as a whole, but most certainly it seems it could be a good part of it. Coupled with other renewable energies such as wind, solar and hydro, we could assure carbon-neutral energy autonomy worldwide for an affordable global price. The return on investment would be inestimable for our environment.

Maybe we need innovation, and it might help a lot, but maybe we just need to start doing things the right way, like Bhutan is doing for example. Time has come for innovation and action for a clean and carbon-neutral energy future.

Sources: COP21WiredUKBill Gates, The Guardian 02/24/2016The Guardian 11/30/2015