James Ellsmoor is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and writer. He is both Co-Founder and Director of Solar Head of State, and CEO at Island Innovation. Recognised on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work on sustainable energy, James is passionate about climate change advocacy and environmental policy.

James speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese and is particularly interested in promoting renewable energy infrastructure systems in rural communities, consulting for leaders in NGOs, the private sector and government on topics related to sustainable development and entrepreneurship. His work extends into climate change policy, renewable energy and travel and he has particular expertise in small island developing states (SIDS). He has worked on the support team for the Republic of the Seychelles at various United Nations climate change conferences (COPs).

James earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he attended the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship. He also holds a master’s degree in Island Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, where he was awarded Postgraduate Student of the Year across the university’s 13 campuses.

Island Innovation

Island Innovation started as a newsletter, which was a collection of sustainable development stories from remote, rural and island communities around the world. It has since grown into a social enterprise which drives sustainable change across island and rural areas through virtual events, an online community, project promotion and environmental consultancy. 

Solar Head of State

An international non-profit working with governments in the Caribbean and Pacific islands to raise awareness of renewable energy through high-profile solar installations on iconic government buildings. Solar Head of State supports world leaders championing solar, acting as a catalyst for wider adoption of new solutions for renewable energy.

Speaking engagements and publications

James has presented to audiences in Europe, the United States, the Pacific Islands, South Korea, Latin America, and the Caribbean, in addition to delivering numerous virtual workshops and lectures. He is often interviewed on local, national, and international radio and TV programs and has appeared on numerous podcasts on topics related to entrepreneurship, sustainable, communications, and travel. He has also delivered guest lectures at institutions including the University of Aruba, Macalester College and Georgia Institute of Technology.

James is a regular contributor to major publications including Forbes and Huffington Post


  • #Solar100 
  • Solar 40 under 40 
  • International Island Studies Association Scholarship 
  • Forbes 30 under 30
  • Richtopia Top 20 Young Entrepreneurs 
  • UNLEASH Sustainable Development Goal Talent
  • TedX talk on Decoupling Work and Place