Skip to main content

Michael Eckhart

Back to Faculty & Staff
Visiting Clinical Professor
Affiliations:
  • Former Managing Director, Global Head of Environmental Finance in the Corporate and Investment Banking division of Citigroup, Inc
  • Founding Chairman and former President, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)
  • Over 40 years of experience in the clean energy with a track record of innovative and pioneering solutions

Michael Eckhart is a visiting clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy focused on student teaching and engagement, and leadership of a Sustainable Finance Initiative that encompasses research on policy that advances private sector investment and financing for sustainability. He also is an adjunct professor at Columbia University SIPA teaching a course entitled Environmental Finance.  

Previously, he pursued a 40-year career in the clean energy arena with a track record of innovative and pioneering solutions. Most recently, he was managing director and global head of Environmental Finance in the Corporate and Investment Banking division of Citigroup, Inc. in New York City where, in addition to client banking, he led the financial industry’s writing, adoption and governance of the Green Bond Principles. He advised the Indian government on the creation of a $50 billion Rupee bond market to enable India’s electric utilities (State Electricity Boards and Discoms) to repay that amount of bank debt, and thus have those funds available for financing the growth of wind and solar power.

Prior to Citicorp, Mike was founding chairman and for ten years the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), where he brought together a unified renewable energy industry supported by Wall Street, and established ACORE’s U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF). While at ACORE, he participated in the planning and founding of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), served as IRENA’s financial advisor for ten years, and continues to serve on the steering committee of the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century (REN 21). Along with other industry leaders he advised China on the first drafting of its Renewable Energy Law (REL) in 2004-2005.  

From 1995 to 2001, he was the founding principal of the SolarBank Initiative in Europe, India and South Africa, helped create the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) policy in Europe, and founded the first at-scale, off-grid solar PV business in Africa—Shell-Eskom Solar Energy Company.

For the past 20 years, he has been actively engaged in international policy affairs including, among others, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), IRENA, REN 21, the Atlantic Council, and the governments of the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, UAE, India, South Africa, China, and others.

Earlier, he had a 20-year career in power generation and renewable energy. At Booz Allen & Hamilton in the late-1970s, he managed a four-year series of Industry Assessment studies for President Jimmy Carter,  managed a special study for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee on establishing a Synfuels Corp, and managed planning of the global Power Systems sector that led to the invention of the small modular reactor (SMR) concept. He continued to develop his unique knowledge and global reputation as VP of Corporate Marketing at Combustion Engineering, CEO of United Power Systems, and partner at Arete Ventures.

Professor Eckhart has received a number of awards including Renewable Energy Man of the Year of India in 1998 for leading an initiative to train state-owned banks on solar energy financing, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, and the International Solar Energy Society’s Global Award for Public Policy Leadership in 2011. He was elected to the ISES Board of Directors in 2019. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the investment company Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital, Inc. (NYSE “HASI”), one of the world’s leading investors in climate change solutions.

He holds a BSEE degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to school, he served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service.

Areas of Interest
  • Sustainable investment & finance; renewable & clean energy; energy; environment & climate policy; board-level corporate & organizational leadership