The planet needs “energy miracles” to overcome the dual challenges of meeting energy demand and addressing climate change, said Microsoft founder Bill Gates during a speech Friday at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California.
“What we’re going to have to do at a global scale is create a new system,” Gates said. “So we need energy miracles.”
Just weeks after his foundation pledged $10 billion for vaccine research and distribution, Gates said finding cheap and clean energy sources should be a higher priority than creating new vaccines and improving farming techniques.
Gates said the world needs to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and suggested researchers spent the next 20 years developing new technologies and the follow 20 years implementing them. He said coal and natural gas should be phased out by 2050 and touted carbon capture and storage technology and wind, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal, and nuclear power. According to CNN Gates focused on reprocessing reactor waste into clean energy.
“A molecule of uranium has a million times more energy than a molecule of coal,” he noted. “In terms of fuel, [spent uranium fuel rods] really solves the problem.”
Gates estimated that spent fuel rods in the U.S. could power the country for 100 years. He added that filtering uranium from seawater could be a huge energy source.