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Bill Gates urges US to put billions behind energy revolution

world Updated: Jun 13, 2010 20:38 IST

Microsoft founder Bill Gates urged the United States Sunday to invest billions of dollars a year to bring about a clean energy revolution that would free it from dependence on oil.

In an interview with ABC "This Week," Gates said the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico raises the question "how did we get an energy infrastructure that is this fragile?"

Gates and his American Energy Innovation Council last week called for an 11-billion-dollar increase in annual investment in research and development into clean energy technology to 16 billion dollars a year.

"You know, we've got a supply chain where we send a billion dollars a year overseas and you can imagine that there will be disruptions," he said.

"But, in fact, the only real solution is to take American ingenuity and fund R&D to get energy in different forms (so) that we're not sending this much money away and that it's stable and reliable," he said.

The AEIC report released June 9 called for a public commitment to funding innovation in clean energy sources, arguing that individual companies are unlikely to make huge investments needed to make new energy sources commercially viable.

But Gates acknowledged that the US budget was tight.

"The question is can the energy sector finance its own revolution and create these great R&D jobs here in America?" he said.

"The only way you get those things is through the breakthroughs. And I'm optimistic they're there, but we're not making the investment," Gates said. "Today we spend only about four billion dollars on energy R&D compared to 30 billion dollars on health, 80 billion dollars on defense.