031: How You Can Make A Difference In Small Island Nations With Renewable Energy And Sustainable Innovation – James Ellsmoor

James Ellsmoor interviewed on The Expat Money Show

James Ellsmoor is a Social Entrepreneur with expertise in renewable energy, sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship in rural, remote and island regions. He has experience living, working and travelling in over 40 countries.

James lives a fascinating life helping Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). There are about 50 different jurisdictions around the globe. James has found that entrepreneurship in these countries is strong and it’s what drives these small nations. Take a look at Jamaica and the impact this small country has had on North America. Their music, their food, their athletes. As a Canadian, and we love our Reggae music, our curry goat and Jamaican patties and Red Stripe beer!

What’s really impressive is that James is a Forbes 30 under 30 winner and top 100 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25. This guy is smart and creative. And for an entrepreneur that’s the winning ticket!!

As most of you know, I love to travel. I love to experience what the locals experience and chatting with James really got me interested in so many places that I have never had the pleasure of visiting, and now are on my list of countries to see . My reasons are very different than most, and James agrees, what he finds fascinating is also different.

We dove deep into what renewable energy looks like. Is it the same for each area? Does Jamaica require the same as Samoa? Or Guyana? What do countries like this require to be self-sufficient, with their government, the infrastructure and food crops?



James and his company, Solar Head of State, tried to put solar panels on the White House, which is how his company name came to be. James and his team work with countries to reduce their carbon footprint, teach them about renewable energy and sustainable energy. I’m just really happy that someone is working with these smaller nations. Their electricity costs are extremely high and their incomes are extremely low so let’s work on bringing them closer together.



I truly believe that we all need to understand the impact of using renewable energy can make on the countries we visit. So many of these small nations Import 90% of their food because it’s cheaper to buy chickens from China than to grow them locally. So, in the end, these countries rely heavily on canned food even tho it’s a tropical paradise.

It’s why 9 out of 10 countries that have an issue with obesity are Pacific island countries. Using renewable energy to power the machinery and the agricultural equipment is a step in the right direction to allowing these nations to not be as reliant on food imported from abroad.



Our conversation about Puerto Rico was fascinating. After the hurricane in 2017, the island was devastated and literally had to shut down. I know they rely heavily on tourism, with dozens of cruise ships docking every day, and the US came to the rescue.

Millions of dollars were spent to get the country back up and running. Interestingly, they had to rebuild new electricity grids and they started to use sustainable energy and renewable energy, and how smart is that. If we, North Americans, had to rebuild our grids, we just wouldn’t build them the same way, we would use far more renewable energy.

James and I talk about how people are leaving, 500,000 of them since the hurricane to live in Florida, which has left a huge gap in the real estate market for anyone to walk into, especially if you are an American, and buy property at a reduced rate.


In a Nutshell

  • How important is renewable energy to these small island nations, and for all of us for that matter
  • What are smart grids?
  • How can we use new technology?
  • New style greenhouses that withstand hurricanes
  • The disappearance of small islands in the South Pacific and the difference between an Atoll and an island
  • What are the parallels, similarities and economy between the Caribbean the South Pacific?


What is HOT in renewable energy?

Batteries? Yes, batteries! Elon Musk and his influence in renewable energy and sustainable innovation. He’s my hero, I love this guy! What Elon has been able to bring to the forefront of innovation is amazing. With SpaceX and Tesla and he is working on bringing the price of batteries down in price so that everyone can take advantage of them.



The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling The Pacific’ by Paul Theroux

‘Krik? Krak!’ by Edwidge Danticat


How can we reach James:





On The Expat Money Show, I aim to bring in the best Entrepreneurs from around the globe who are doing some really incredible things. James Ellsmoor is no exception.  His fascination with the island communities will play out well in the long run, make sure you listen in to find out what’s being done to save these small island nations.  Don’t let this episode slip through your hands. Listen and relisten. Share this podcast with your colleagues! They will love you forever!

I hope you get as much value from this Podcast Episode as I did… and if you would like to stay up to date with all new content that comes out at The Expat Money Show make sure you sign up for our Newsletter below. Some of my best stuff comes out by email and I don’t want you to miss it!


About The Host, Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup; the host of The Expat Money Show, has 20+ years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Iran.

His goal now is to help Expats just like you to generate additional streams of income, eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again.

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