Skoll Foundation


American Council on Renewable Energy

Skoll Awardee(s): Michael Eckhart
Award Year: 2008
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Sustainable Markets

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“Renewable energy can be successful in the United States, but only if the renewable energy community powers up to match the heft and muscle of energy incumbents in the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries – not by accusing them of being bad, but by creating a new renewable energy solution that includes technology deployment, market development, and a sustainable policy framework.”

Renewable energy accounts for only a small percent of the U.S. market and is disadvantaged in the competition for scarce investment dollars.

The Skoll Awardee: Mike Eckhart worked at the leading edge of the energy field for over three decades, conducting pioneering studies on renewable energy for the Carter Administration and working for major energy corporations. In 1995, he founded the Solar Bank Initiative to finance sustainable solar energy in Brazil, India and South Africa. He was named “Renewable Energy Man of the Year” in India in 1998 and later was named U.S. Chair of the World Council of Renewable Energy. In 2001, along with other U.S. leaders, Mike formed ACORE as the way to create a broad-based renewables community in the United States and build international partnerships. This approach was intended to disrupt the pattern of each type of renewable energy having its own small lobby or trade group. Mike founded ACORE to unite representatives of all renewables around common interests, yielding more effective results. At the time of the Award, ACORE was preparing to launch a Renewable Energy Communications and Policy Program (RECAP) to engage expert researchers in development of quantifiable data showing the economic benefits of renewable energy, aiming for impact in the field of investment in renewable similar to what scientific research achieved in bringing climate change into the mainstream. However, the financial meltdown of 2008 deeply affected both ACORE and its members and clients, and the plan had to be shelved. Mike left ACORE in 2011. Retired Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn served as President and CEO until he was tapped by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy; he was succeeded by Michael Brower. The organization has updated its mission and continues to convene forums and act as an educational platform.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:

  • Brought companies representing the banking, investment, and insurance industries into the renewable energy field through high-end finance conferences and other educational platforms, engaging lawyers, accountants, and consultants who support financial actors.
  • Led the movement to argue for the investment, economic growth, and new jobs that would accompany a national commitment to renewable energy – now the standard argument supporting renewable energy policy proposals.



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