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Bill Gates plugs energy research agency

Power pole
ARPA-E works on technologies ranging from the power grid to fusion. (ARPA-E via Twitter)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is putting in a plug for the federal government’s energy research agency, ARPA-E, just when it’s in need of a power surge.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy was created in 2009 within the U.S. Department of Energy to support technology development in the energy realm. The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (a.k.a. DARPA) serves as its model.

ARPA-E has funded initiatives ranging from improvements in electric grid management and power conversion, to more energy-efficient windows, to lower-cost solar power systems, to plasma research for nuclear fusion power.

The beneficiaries of the fusion research program include the University of Washington and Redmond, Wash.-based Helion Energy.

ARPA-E’s work strikes a chord with Gates because of the billionaire’s involvement in Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion investment fund that Gates (and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, among others) bought into last year to back commercial energy initiatives.

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