Chad Lipton

Chad Lipton is currently starting a business delivering clean energy services in Cote d’Ivoire. Previously, Chad worked for National Geographic where he managed a grant program to fund entrepreneurs delivering innovative energy solutions to communities facing economic, climate change, environmental and other challenges. In 2013, Chad submitted the winning idea to be the subject matter for National Geographic's challenge competition, called the Terra Watt Prize. He helped develop the prize objective, which is to address the challenges of energy access by facilitating the flow of capital between entrepreneurs and investors and also to identify viable business models.

Before National Geographic, Chad worked for Elysian Energy as an energy auditor, carrying out site visits and analysis in the residential energy field. Prior to Elysian Energy, Chad worked in the field of carbon management, where he performed site verification for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. From 2004-07, Chad worked as an environmental health specialist in Africa carrying out water and sanitation projects in Côte d’Ivoire and Mozambique. Chad has master’s degrees in Environmental Health Science and International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University.

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When conservationist Willie Smits got married in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 1980, the dowry cost six sugar palm trees, a fact that intrigued him. The six trees equaled almost one month’s income for most locals. What made sugar palms so valuable? That question ultimately led Smits on a quest to maximize the tree’s value for…

This November 8 will mark the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, the devastating storm that claimed at least 6,300 lives and displaced millions more. In Tacloban, one of the hardest-hit areas southeast of Manila, the destruction is still evident: A cement house lies partially submerged in the ocean. Large ships are grounded right next to…

Loan guarantees have been around since at least the 1940s, when the U.S. government backed loans for homes, farms and businesses for World War II veterans. More recently, the U.S. government has used loan guarantee programs to support the development of clean energy. Projects including the large Ivanpah solar facility in California’s Mojave Desert, a…

National Geographic helped advance the cause of sustainable energy for off-grid communities by crowning the winners of the Terra Watt Prize — the first competition of its kind — on June 11 in Washington, D.C. As torchbearers for cleaner, safer, and cheaper energy alternatives for the global poor, co-champions Mera Gao Micro Grid Power (MGP)…

More than 1.3 billion people, or approximately one-fifth of the world’s population, live without access to an electrical grid. That is roughly five times the number of people living in the United States, a country that is so plugged-in that access to electricity is all but taken for granted. In places without electricity, kerosene has…

Less than 25 percent of the population has access to electricity in the small West African country of Benin (map). In rural areas, the rate is even lower. Without an alternative, locals use kerosene for lighting needs, which contributes to health problems and is very costly. Climate conditions create challenges for Benin as well. In…

Progress in developing new energy technology typically has a longer time horizon than can be measured in little more than three years, but the ARPA-E program is already showing early signs of success. Created in 2007, ARPA-E began funding energy technology projects in 2009. By November 2012, ARPA-E’s total portfolio had reached $770 million, which…

Fewer than 16 percent of people in Tanzania have access to electricity from the grid. In rural areas, that figure drops below 3 percent. Yet most families deprived of electricity live within a short distance of the grid. MIT-educated physicist Jamie Yang has been working to address the electricity problem. Three years ago, he founded…

Harvesting Energy in Eastern Uganda

In recent years, farmers in eastern Uganda have had to endure dire conditions that have caused them to lose three to four harvesting seasons in a row. Severe drought in 2007 was followed by several periods of flooding. Large swaths of their land were deforested for political reasons and for providing cooking fuel to sustain…

In recent years, the people of western Kenya have been feeling the painful effects of climate change and deforestation. As the practice of chopping down trees for fuel wood continued, “deforestation was getting worse,” says resident Salim Shaban. Removing trees compromises nutrient and water retention in soils, and nutrients lost in the runoff can pollute…

“This is not an engineering discussion. It is a humanities one,” Bruce Oreck, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, told an auditorium full of engineers this week at the World Renewable Energy Forum in Denver. Paraphrasing great thinkers such as Aristotle, Einstein, and Newton, Oreck said, “Words don’t just describe what we think. They shape what we…

Earlier this week, top scientists released a paper urging governments to take restorative steps for the planet’s ecosystem. Faced with today’s challenges, “Society has no choice but to take dramatic action,” the authors write. They note the important role that energy –- and particularly reliance on fossil fuel — plays in climate change, biodiversity loss…

In today’s polarized climate, it is not uncommon to hear opposition to anything labeled climate-friendly or green. But confronting inaccurate and unfair arguments requires constant effort, and the trend toward complacency is dangerous. According to Jigar Shah of the Carbon War Room at the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) conference in Aspen last week, if…