The solar industry is so dynamic and interesting right now. There’s so much growth and good news. This month we’re taking time to appreciate some of the individuals and companies that are making things happen.
Felix Najite Okene has been in the industry for a decade. We asked him to share the story of how he got into solar and what he’s been up to.
HeatSpring: Can you tell us about your background and the work you’ve been doing?
Felix: I graduated with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering 2011 with a CGPA of 4.19/5.0 from the Federal University of Technology Minna (FUTMINNA) Nigeria. This is the first specialized university known for Engineering. The National University Commission ranked FUTMINNA as the best University of Technology in Nigeria and the 7th best in my country. After my graduation, I worked as a contract employee in ExxonMobil Nigeria as a project engineer from September 2011 – June 2013. During this period, I completed the construction, commissioning and handing over of a 100KW solar hybrid mini grid power plant under the ExxonMobil Community Assistance (CAP) projects in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. This is part of ExxonMobil cooperate social responsibility in providing sustainable electricity to the host communities.
During the period of my employment as Solar Project Engineer with Solar Energy master consulting from September 2013 – August 2019, I have completed several solar PV projects for individual homes. In September 2016, I championed a free solar PV training of 10 Community youths who are jobless and are on the street because they don’t have the essential skills for employment. I was able to convinced the Managing Director of the organization to approve an accelerated skill program for them. Upon approval in November 2016, l led and coordinated other two members of the organization to train these jobless community youths on off-grid solar PV installation. These jobless community youths acquired the necessary skills for employment and over 80% of them are solar installer.
I joined Kobeissi Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Limited as a Quality Assurance/Quality Control Engineer in the ExxonMobil Master Plan projects for Dormitories and Utilities. Part of my responsibilities is to ensure the quality of work of the subcontractor executing a 40KW solar power plant. Also, as a technical divisions Volunteer with the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), I am currently providing technical expertise and mentorship to 3 Nitmitz High School students who are working on the design and construction of a prototype solar panel kit capable of powering every day applications like TV, Fan, lighting in Nigeria.
HeatSpring: Why do you feel this work is so important?
Felix: According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sustainable energy is the provision of adequate energy services at affordable cost in a secure and environmentally benign manner, in conformity with social and economic development needs. Solar energy is a renewable free source of energy that is sustainable and totally inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuels that are finite. It’s also a non-polluting source of energy and does not emit any greenhouse gases when producing electricity.
All the work I have done in the past and the one am currently doing centers on sustainable energy development. All these work are very much in line with HeatSpring commitment of working with industry experts within solar, green building and energy efficiency and United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development and helps achieve the UN’s SDG 7 of affordable and clean energy. With this goal, I believe both HeatSpring and the UN hopes to promote cleaner electricity generation, energy efficiency and significantly reduce CO2 emission.
HeatSpring: What do you hope to accomplish in your work over the next 1-3 years?
Felix: I intend to create a community based solar energy center that will train the women and youth in my community on the installation of solar system. According to a 2019 report by the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), there is a growing shortage of skilled manpower in the sector and this have slowed the rapid deployment of solutions in Nigeria. The solar energy center will help to close this skill gap and also generate employment the women and youth in my community.
HeatSpring: Are there any projects you’re working on now that you’re especially excited about?
Felix: QIT Project for Dormitories and Utilities in Southern Nigeria. The project among other things includes the installation of a 40KW Solar solution.
Felix, thanks for everything you do to make the solar industry stronger, and for taking the time to share your work!