Sustainability and global warming have been main topics of conversation for some time now, and of course, that includes in the business world too.
New businesses continue to shape the world we live in and contribute to caring for the environment. But how do more traditional industries cater to the ongoing needs for sustainability?
Windek Energy is one of Nigeria’s companies that is making a mark in this realm. In this article, CEO and founder, Nosa Igiehon Okunbo, gives an exclusive overview of the ways Windek Energy has adapted, including the use of Web3, and how they are continuing to work towards being a powerhouse for clean energy in Africa.
Plus, read until the end to find out her top tips for those who want to succeed as leaders and entrepreneurs.
Dr. Byron Cole: Could you please share a bit about your background and what inspired you to lead Windek Energy in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions?
Nosa Igiehon Okunbo: Growing up in Nigeria, I saw the effect of improperly managed energy systems on the productivity of the communities I lived in. This is why I developed an interest in the energy industry, knowing it affects lives, and can improve the quality of life in communities around the world.
Furthermore, growing up in the Niger Delta, I saw the adverse effects of dirty fuels and decided to get involved in Nigeria’s energy transition. For me, achieving our goal is personal. It will result in less deaths, cleaner air, and improved wealth distribution. If I can achieve these, then I am successful.
Cole: In an ever-evolving energy landscape, what innovative strategies has Windek Energy adopted to stay ahead of the curve and lead in sustainable power solutions?
Okunbo: Windek Energy leverages cutting-edge technology and industry expertise to enhance its operations in the oil and gas sector. By staying at the forefront of advancements, Windek Energy ensures efficient resource utilization and optimizes its processes. Unlike current prevailing systems, we rely heavily on data collection, using our proprietary AI to forecast patterns and ascertain the effectiveness of our operations on a national scale.
We prioritize the delivery of high-quality energy from cleaner hydrocarbons while actively participating in the transition towards cleaner energy sources. This commitment reflects its recognition of the need to address environmental concerns and reduce carbon emissions. We track our carbon footprint and are actively working towards ensuring we offset our carbon footprint from our hydrocarbon operations by deploying renewable energy products across the continent.
Lastly, through collaboration and partnership we actively seek partnerships with technical and financial corporate institutions. It recognizes the importance of collaboration to drive growth and maximise resource optimization in the sector. These partnerships facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources, leading to mutual benefits and shared success.
Cole: Could you share the key milestones and challenges that have shaped Windek Energy’s journey towards becoming a prominent player in the renewable energy sector?
Okunbo: A key milestone that has shaped our journey is the commencement of our project to set up 10 vehicle refuelling stations across Nigeria, to distribute CNG (clean natural gas) and recharge EVs (electric vehicles) to accelerate the transition to clean energy.
A challenge we face is with perception on the customer end. These products are emerging in the Nigerian market, and it will take some time for customers to trust them and massively adopt cleaner technology.
Cole: The energy transition is a global imperative. How does Windek Energy envision its role in catalyzing this shift and contributing to a more sustainable future?
Okunbo: We see ourselves as a major infrastructural partner in the energy transition. Windek Energy is increasing trust in cleaner technology by ensuring consumers have a reliable supply of CNG and EV charging points. These are major factors that will move the needle for the energy transition in Nigeria’s transportation sector. Also, all our facilities will be powered by renewable energy to prevent our operations from increasing carbon emissions.
We are also partnering with other players in the industry, such as vehicle distributors and financiers, to ensure that we achieve our net zero goals as an industry.
Cole: Collaboration and partnerships are crucial in driving impactful change. Can you highlight some of the strategic alliances Windek Energy has forged to further its mission?
Okunbo: A number of strategic alliances with technical and financial corporate institutions have allowed Windek to further its mission of providing high-quality energy from hydrocarbons and renewable energy sources.
An example includes our relationship with Nigeria LNG Limited. This partnership secures a natural gas supply, which we compress and distribute to our facilities. The security of supply is essential in converting a population to the cleaner fuel, and the partnership with Nigeria LNG Limited guarantees that.
Cole: What are some cutting-edge technologies that Windek Energy is leveraging to enhance the efficiency and reliability of its renewable energy solutions?
Okunbo: Windek Energy is leveraging a number of technologies including:
- Big data analytics to collect and analyze data from its assets, from recharging stations to trucks. This data helps Windek Energy to optimize its operations and make better decisions about its future investments.
- Artificial intelligence to develop predictive maintenance models for its renewable energy assets. This helps to identify and prevent potential problems before they cause outages or disruptions. This also enables us to predict the outcomes of our operations, enabling us to make necessary adjustments.
- Blockchain to create a more transparent and secure system for trading renewable energy credits. This will drive down the cost of switching to cleaner fuels for automotive use.
Cole: How does Windek Energy prioritize community engagement and ensure its projects benefit local stakeholders?
Okunbo: Windek Energy prioritizes community engagement by creating employment and training opportunities for local residents. Our training programs in renewable energy technology would enable many individuals to become profitably self-employed. Our first cohort will commence in 2024.
We also provide scholarships and grants for select students and businesses in the local government areas we operate in. This creates a sense of belonging between the community members and Windek, increasing wealth-generating opportunities for the community, and increasing the awareness of clean technologies.
Lastly, we work with the government to develop policies that support the deployment of renewable energy projects.
Cole: What are Windek Energy’s goals and visions for the next decade, and how do you foresee the company contributing to the global transition towards a more sustainable and equitable energy ecosystem?
Okunbo: Windek Energy has ambitious goals for the next decade:
- To become a leading provider of integrated energy solutions that combine renewable energy, energy storage, and micro grid technologies.
- To create and demonstrate the blueprint to be used to transform the Sub-Saharan African transportation sector to run on clean energy, rather than the prevailing use of petrol and diesel.
- To achieve net-zero emissions across its operations.
We see ourselves as a major infrastructural partner in the energy transition. The company is committed to developing and deploying renewable energy solutions that are reliable, affordable, and accessible to all. We would eventually provide financing solutions that make it easier for companies and individuals to invest in renewable energy.
Cole: Could you provide insight into what’s on the horizon for Windek Energy? Are there any exciting upcoming projects, innovations, or launches that you can share with us?
Okunbo: Windek Energy is working on a number of projects that will help to accelerate the energy transition. Two major ones include development of 10 stations across Nigeria to distribute CNG (clean natural gas) to vehicles and recharge EVs (electric vehicles), and the development of a new platform to facilitate the trading of renewable energy credits, to be built on our impact tracking platform.
The company is committed to playing a leading role in the global transition towards a more sustainable and equitable energy future, thus we would be expanding to other nations in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next 2 years.
Cole: Lastly, could you please share with readers your top 3 tips for becoming a great leader or entrepreneur?
- Never forget your why. It is easy to be carried away by success and jump on to other trends, but you must remember what problem you set out to solve. Oftentimes, it would take decades to eradicate these issues; you must never lose sight of why you started. Otherwise, you might be rich, but you would remain unsuccessful.
- Build Relationships. No one is an island. Cultivate meaningful relationships with colleagues, mentors, advisors, and peers. Networking is not just about connecting with people; it’s about building authentic, mutually beneficial relationships. Support people, invest in their success, and genuinely care. Also find people who will do the same for you. And on a personal level, you will need your clan to support you through dark times.
- Be Resilient. There is no easy path to success. You will face setbacks and challenges. If you persist, you will eventually succeed. To be honest, there is a time to quit, but most times, what you need to succeed is persistence. Learn from failures, stay focused on your goals, and maintain a positive mindset.