As part of his annual letter, Bill Gates tackled the topic of energy and how to bring cheap and clean energy to 1.3 billion people, many of which are in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

The key word here is clean. According to Gates, as much as 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide was created in the creation of electricity of energy last year, a number that is only set to rise unless something drastic is done.

The problem is that wrapping your head around a number that big is difficult. So Gates used a bit of algebra to create a formula to understand which areas we need to focus on which you can view in the video below.


So as Gates explains the best solution is to lower the energy needed by everybody and lowering the carbon dioxide produced by creating the energy needed. Of these, only the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the creation of the energy can be reduced, but even that has its problems.

While mention is made of¬†solar and wind power, these resources aren’t all that reliable when there is no sunlight or wind.

“It would help, of course, if we had a great system for storing solar and wind power,” says Gates, “but right now, the best storage option is rechargeable batteries, and they are expensive.”

The solution to all of these problems, according to Gates, is constant improvement through research and development. Citing instances such as the internet and the personal computer Gates explains how humans can do anything they put their mind to but they first need to try.

And therein lies one of the bigger problems, not enough is being done. To demonstrate this Gates compares the US spend on gasoline everyday with the yearly budget dedicated to energy research. The Microsoft founder discovered that while the US government spends $5 billion a year on research, the same amount is used every week to fill up cars.

In spite of that Gates thinks that in as little as 15 years we could finally have a breakthrough that will power our world without simultaneously destroying it.

The time frame doesn’t seem to realistic but if the US can spend its annual budget for energy research in fuel every week then surely as a species humans can join forces and come up with a solution.

Whatever the solution is Gates does have a point, we can’t make a change alone, we need to work together.

[Source – Gates Notes][Image – Gates Notes]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.