Gigaom

Bill Gates told an audience of energy entrepreneurs, scientists and investors at the ARPA-E energy conference on Tuesday that “It’s crazy how little we’re funding energy.” Energy research is underfunded by a factor of two, Gates said, referring to the amount of current U.S. government investment in energy research.

Underfunding energy research means there is a higher risk that we won’t be able to deliver the needed energy breakthroughs, said Gates. Gates pointed out that funding basic research naturally has a high failure rate: Potentially 90 percent of the projects in ARPA-E won’t make a dent in the future of energy technology, he said. “Look at the battery companies [at ARPA-E], and if you can find the one out of ten that will breakthrough, then great, go invest in it,” said Gates.

But the high failure rate is why we “literally need thousands of these companies to try this,” in…

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