Global Head of Environmental Finance, Citigroup, Inc.
Michael Eckhart is a Managing Director and Global Head of Environmental Finance and Sustainability at Citigroup in New York City. He has been involved in the solar energy field since managing the first national assessment of PV markets, industry and policy for the Carter White House in 1978, continuing since then with solar work in the US, Europe, India, China and Africa. He created the SolarBank initiative as a pioneer in the financing of solar PV. He was deeply involved with the European renewable energy revolution in 1996-2004, and contributed to the drafting of the Feed-In tariff law in Germany. He was named Renewable Energy Man of the Year of India in 1998 for his work on training 1,000 bankers on making solar PV loans and for introducing solar financing to the microfinance industry there. He created the Shell-Eskom Solar Energy Company in South Africa which invented the pre-payment card system and went on the install over 10,000 solar home systems in KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape where President Nelson Mandela came to inaugurate the program. In 2001, he was named by Hermann Scheer to be U.S. Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy and from that platform founded the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), then working full time for 10 years to build the organization. ACORE convened the first renewable energy finance conference ever held in the U.S. in 2003, which became the well-respected Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street. ACORE also established its annual policy forum in the Cannon Caucus Room of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2002, he worked with Dr. Scheer to call for the first global conference of governments on renewable energy, which became the Bonn Renewables 2004 event, from which came the Renewable Energy Network for the 21 st Century (REN 21) where he has served on the Steering Committee and governing Board. He followed this by organizing the WIREC 2008 world meeting in Washington, DC which was co-convened with the Bush White House and State Department and attracted 8,600 attendees including 1,100 government officials. Following WIREC, he worked with REN 21 to turn it into an on-going series of bi-annual global conferences called the “IREC” series. Since 2004 he has been collaborating with peers in China, and was a co-organizer of the landmark Great Wall Renewable Energy conference in 2006. He attended the founding meeting of IRENA, for which he had advocated for years, and has since then become a leading private sector Observer at the IRENA Assembly meetings in Abu Dhabi. He also serves on the Renewable Industry Advisory Board to the IEA.
Today, he is the global head of environmental finance and sustainability at Citigroup in New York, and spends more than half of his time traveling around the world speaking on renewable energy finance and serving clients in the renewables, efficiency, and cleantech fields. Most recently, he has been involved in the $300 million NRG Yieldco IPO and the $1 billion IFC green Bond, and is a co-author of the new “Framework for Green Bonds” that is being adopted by the bond markets. Throughout this work, he has consistently brought a balance of technology, economic, market, industry and finance perspectives to the resolution of policy and finance.
Prior to his career in renewable energy, he served in the US Navy Submarine Service and received a degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.