The private and public sectors are investing millions of euros more each year in green technologies, but we are still moving too slowly to find and deploy new products. And green technologies’ prices are still too high.

President Werner Hoyer and Bill Gates met in Brussels on Monday to discuss ways to speed up technology growth, lower the costs and help sustainable projects reach a commercial stage in less time. The get-together was a continuation of a series of meetings between the president and Mr. Gates over the past several years.

President Hoyer told Mr. Gates that the European Investment Bank is looking for more long-term partnerships to fight climate change. One new initiative discussed Monday is a global green technology financing programme called Catalyst. This programme was created by Breakthrough Energy, an investment vehicle Mr. Gates put together to attract more money for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2019, the EIB has been an investor in the Breakthrough Energy Europe fund focused on clean energy technologies. The Bank also agreed in 2019 to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to invest more money worldwide in sustainable development, healthcare and equality.

The search for more efficiency

Mr. Gates wrote on his blog, Gates Notes, that he hopes the Catalyst programme will bring down prices for green technologies and speed up innovation. Most green technologies are still more expensive than the systems they are replacing, Gates wrote, and they don’t do a better job providing energy. He hopes green technologies can follow the cycle of microwaves, where prices started out high but quickly dropped as demand rose, more companies got into the game and many efficiencies were found.

President Hoyer and Mr. Gates discussed Monday how the Bank and the European Commission can work with Catalyst to attract more investors in Europe for projects such as long-duration electricity storage, sustainable aviation fuels, carbon dioxide removal systems and green hydrogen.

The discussions Monday are important because Catalyst’s first funding partnership will be with the European Commission. The two sides agreed in June to mobilise up to €820 million over the next five years to build large-scale demonstration projects in Europe in sectors such as advanced battery storage or green fuels. The aim is to get them to the market faster and help the European Union meet its net-zero emissions goals for 2050. A memorandum of understanding on this new deal will be signed before the next Climate Change Conference in Scotland in November. 

The European Investment Bank is expected to play a key role in finding and organizing the financing for these new Catalyst programme investments.