In 2013, Chad Lipton submitted an idea for an entrepreneurial competition to alleviate
energy poverty around the globe. Because roughly 1.3 billion people -- one in five
globally -- lack access to basic electricity, his idea was both pertinent and salient.
Providing access to modern and sustainable energy is essential to improving living
standards in the developing world.
Rather than selecting one local village to support or a single technical approach to
scale, Chad proposed an international competition, inviting energy entrepreneurs
working in those villages to submit their most promising business plans. His competition
came to be known as the Terra Watt Prize.
Entrepreneurs were asked to share how they would provide basic energy access to an
off-grid village of at least 50 households. A set of judges, composed of energy experts
and investors with capital to deploy, evaluated the proposals.
The competition, which launched in November 2013, resulted in two winners who each
received $125,000 to implement their projects. Chad received a cash reward of $5,000
and helped turn his idea into a National Geographic competition. You can read more about
the Terra Watt Prize by visiting