Gates Notes: Bill Gates backs nuclear power and the importance of affordable energy for the poor

I speculated that Mr. Gates understands the importance of the nuclear electrical generation issues, but had not seen any evidence that was true. So I thought perhaps Mr. Gates kept a low profile on nuclear because nuclear is not the “breakfast of champions” in the society Gates runs in. Well, it turns out he has gone public (in an interview) according to this note on a different topic by Mark Flanagan:

(…) We’re a little Mac-centric ourselves, but since Steve Jobs doesn’t have a Web site of his own, we’ll happily settle for Bill Gates’ new Gates Notes. Since retiring from Microsoft, Gates has been working on philanthropic activities and establishing a broader public profile for himself. Gate Notes combines the two activities.

One feature is a series of podcasts, in which Gates is interviewed on energy issues (currently – presumably, he’ll address different topics over time). He’s right up front in his support of nuclear energy:

“Nuclear energy is worth pursuing, wind and solar are good but have limitations, and the government is putting minuscule amounts of money into energy R&D dollars.”

“[Nuclear energy is] the only thing we have today other than hydrocarbons that provides a lot of power and you could build a lot more of it.”

From my initial reading I think that Gates Notes may well become a regular daily read around S/Y ADAGIO. I was frustrated that the blog does not conform to accepted internet standards (so that your favorite browser presents the RSS feed link). But Bill does in fact have an RSS feed here. But since I know Bill doesn’t need the Google ad revenue I am surprised that his RSS feed is only 50-word excerpts. I means Seekerblog’s RSS feed delivers 100% of the content, right?

Bill has the “What’s been on my mind lately” section which currently features the Podcast Series: Energy and Climate Change (where I expected to find a link to the iTunes subscription. Hmmm… fancy that, can’t seem to find it:-) But there are MP3 download links…) Downloaded OK. Hmm… can’t get those MP3s to synch to our iPods…

I loved the title of this section “Infrequently asked questions” which heads selected reader questions. Here again Bill gets points for tackling this one “Why Not Focus on Global Warming?

A question from a businessman in India

You say that you want to help all people to live healthy, productive lives, but you don’t seem to be doing anything about global warming, which clearly threatens our very existence. How come you don’t care about this issue?


Energy and climate change is an issue I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about and trying to understand a bit better. I’ve been lucky enough to get time with some real experts, and there’s a lot of great stuff that’s been written that provides some understanding.

In my work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I think about energy in terms of how it can help the poorest people. If you can have cheap energy where people live, then you can have fertilizer, transportation, and clean water, along with the ability to assume that there’s electricity for a medical clinic. Among other things, that means you can keep vaccines refrigerated.

From this point of view, energy is a huge issue. (…)

I’m a believer that whenever markets can work, that’s where you will find the best answers because you’ll get entrepreneurs from all over the world who can pursue thousands and thousands of ideas in parallel. Depending on how you measure it, energy is probably the biggest market in the world. That means somebody can make a risky bet and try it, and you have clear metrics of success. So if you have a promising idea about sequestering carbon, or a cheap nuclear plant, or solar photovoltaic, you can get the capital to build plants, to hire people, and to demonstrate whether it works at scale.

(…) Please continue reading…