Bill Gates: In 30 years, some of today’s oil giants “will be worth very little”
Bill Gates: In 30 years, some of today’s oil giants “will be worth very little”

GLASGOW, Scotland — Bill Gates sees a role for Big Oil companies and their skill sets in the transition to clean energy but doesn't think all the incumbents will be left standing.

Driving the news: Gates, in a briefing Wednesday, cautioned against assuming "new eras are marked by the falling of giants," but added: "Yes, some of these giants will fall, you know, 30 years from now, some of those oil companies will be worth very little."

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"I hope a few of the big companies make it. We're certainly open-minded. The whole idea of cutting off investment in the old as a tactic, as opposed to investing in the new, I just don't get that," he said.

"A few of the big guys I think will make the transition."

Zoom in: A number of oil majors — led by the European giants — have been diversifying into areas like renewables and EV charging and hydrogen, though oil and gas remain their dominant business lines.

Gates sees potential in areas like "blue" hydrogen and also noted, "we have a pipeline infrastructure in the United States that probably can be retrofitted to transmit hydrogen."

The big picture: I asked about Big Oil but Gates was really here to talk up the expansion of initiatives through his Breakthrough Energy group.

One is Catalyst, a partnership between Breakthrough, huge corporations and government partners to steer billions of dollars into commercially scaling promising technologies.

At COP26 it announced new partners including Citi and the Ikea Foundation and formalized a partnership with the European Commission and European Investment Bank to mobilize capital for areas like long-duration storage.

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