My journey into a career in decarbonization began with a road trip from Lagos to Ekpan, a suburb of Warri, a city in southern Nigeria. Ekpan is home to my maternal parents, and 2008 would be my first visit having a full-length vacation with my grandma. My excitement was soon damped with unpleasant memories when I visited the Warri Refinery and drove along the road leading to the Jetty. I saw a large expanse of land with no vegetation but thick patches of oil stains and muddy river bodies visibly mingled with oil. On my next visit in January 2017 to a neighbouring state, Rivers State, my experience was even worse. There was a slight drizzle, and I noticed soot stains on my white shirt, possibly from the refinery’s continuous gas flaring practice.
These two unpleasant experiences were enough motivation to develop a new passion for decarbonization. I immediately searched for programs that accurately captured my need to contribute to my immediate society. In 2021 after the global pandemic, I got accepted into an Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Management and Engineering of Environment and Energy. My study track also included project management and green energy finance. I immediately realized that my training until that moment had been fully immersed in the scientific and engineering perspective of decarbonization.
The 4-months Student Energy Career Training cohort-based program gave me an accelerated buffer with a holistic comprehension of green project finance. I had an opportunity to work with Celium, a climate venture studio focused on accelerating the deployment of climate infrastructure. My team of four other passionate young professionals and I analyzed budding green energy companies to review their prospects in the future from an investor’s perspective. We categorized the companies across both their technologies (solar, wind, and storage system) and across the type of companies which were basically in four groups, namely; Technology Companies (TechCos), Development Companies (DevCos), Engineering, Procurement and Construction Companies (EPC) and Yield Companies (YieldCos). We concluded with a comprehensive report on the current valuations of each company we analyzed.
My newly developed skill set in valuation and project finance was immediately helpful in one of my master’s coursework projects on designing a Mobile EV Charger for Budapest, Hungary. I worked with a team of three other intellectuals in proposing a B2B company to solve range anxiety for EV users and reduce the long waiting time for EV charging in rush hour.
I also got accepted into the 2022 Blue Integrated Partnerships summer institute program at Purdue University, Indiana, for a climate change fellowship. I contributed to novel research on clean energy and water security with a poster presentation titled: “Simulation of Winglets in the Performance and Wake of Horizontal Axis Wind Turbine Models” at the 2022 Blue Integrated Partnerships Conference, Indiana, USA. I have also been accepted for a fully funded PhD at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, for innovative research in Reverse Osmosis and Desalination Technologies. I am very grateful for the Student Energy Career Training opportunity as it has contributed significantly to my continuing career in decarbonization.