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Dartmouth's own known as "Greentech Goddess"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet ConnectNS network member Danielle Fong, Co-founder, LightSail Energy in Berkeley, California.

Dartmouth’s own Danielle Fong is one of Nova Scotia’s fastest rising stars. Twice named to Forbes Magazine’s prestigious 30 under 30 list, Fong has also been referred to by media as the “Greentech Goddess.”Danielle’s path has never been linear or static. A path that at the young age of twelve would see her jump from junior high straight to Dalhousie. From there she would immerse herself into nuclear energy studies at Princeton. Realizing she couldn’t wait for nuclear fusion to solve the planet’s energy crisis while she completed her PhD, she made yet another leap – from student to entrepreneur.At the age of 20, Fong co-founded LightSail Energy Inc., a California-based company that has designed a revolutionary compressed air storage technology that is scalable, portable, clean and economical. Backed by heavyweight investors such as Bill Gates, LightSail Energy’s game-changing technology could be the answer to reducing the world’s dependence on carbon fossil fuels.
Fong is bringing it home. Earlier this year, LightSail Energy announced that their new energy storage technology will be tested in Nova Scotia, at the former Bowater Mersey site in Queen’s County.

We recently caught up with Fong and gained her thoughts on what Nova Scotia means to her and the opportunity and responsibility she feels as a leader in clean technology.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Nova Scotia”?

Bagpipes. The Ocean. Home.

What do you love most about doing what you do professionally?

It's tremendously satisfying to think that what you're doing could be so important for the world. On the other hand, it is also terrifying, because you have this tremendous opportunity and responsibility, and you don't want to mess it up. Eminem captures the feeling perfectly in "Lose Yourself"
"You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo"

What’s the best lesson you ever learned?

Find your own path.

What’s the greatest asset Nova Scotia can offer your industry?

Nova Scotia is where everything comes together. The terrific wind resources, the educated population, both a local and a global mindset, the Department of Energy and the utility and the financial organizations, such as Innovacorp, all working together. And most of all, the Maritime do-it-yourself ethos makes it possible to build a slice of the future here, and show the world what a real path to an energy future looks like.

What do you miss most about Nova Scotia?

Indian summer. It is so beautiful.

Danielle Fong is a member of the ConnectNS network of proud Nova Scotians, alumni and expats from over 40 countries. Learn how you too can get involved.

* Photograph by: Robert Schlatter