Breakthrough Energy and the Catalyst Program

Heading out of the first week of COP26, headlines have been focused upon global sustainability efforts in both the public and private sectors. A large focus of the conference has been accessibility: giving the countries previously unequipped to deal with climate change tools to do so. These efforts are often led by government policy. However, Breakthrough Energy, a sustainable finance collective established by Bill Gates, announced plans through which the private sector can enable the expansion of sustainability in markets around the world with its ‘Catalyst’ program.

Breakthrough Energy as a whole as well as the Catalyst program more specifically is focused on commercializing innovation and new technologies across these four broad categories. Through funding commercialization, they hope to lower the green premium in industries where it is notoriously high such as electricity and manufacturing in order to incentivize private-sector green solutions. Catalyst focuses on four technologies: direct air capture, green hydrogen, long-duration energy storage, and sustainable aviation fuel.

Commercialization of these new, perhaps risky technologies (such as green hydrogen, or sustainable aviation fuel) is dependent upon incentivization of investment into them by both the public and private sectors. In order to facilitate this incentivization, the Catalyst Program created the Emerging Climate Technology (ECT) Framework, which quantifies the climate and financial impacts of investment into these technologies. The hope is, that with access to high-quality metrics, investors will be more inclined to fund sustainable solutions.

Sophia Radis


“The Catalyst Program.” Breakthrough Energy, BI, 2021,

“Mission Innovation-Breakthrough Energy Collaboration Agreement.” UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021, COP26, 3 Nov. 2021,

Picture Credit: EU/Dati Bendo

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