Achievements can be earned when there is commitment to hard work and consistent passion to build a better future. After acquiring knowledge, it is vital that it is applied practically and made use of with vigor. Dr. Joe Nyangon has led research studies on energy issues at the intersection of engineering, economics, and public policy. Dr. Nyangon received an undergraduate degree in engineering at the University of Nairobi. He remembers that period as “the most thoroughly enjoyable time in my life”, splitting his time between engineering school, sports and student government. In his last year as an undergraduate student, he was elected to student government as President of the Engineering Students Association to represent more than 2,500 engineering students in the Student Organization of Nairobi University (SONU) Parliament. He also served as editor-in-chief of the university’s premier student publication, the Student Engineer Magazine. After his undergrad, he moved to London, England, to pursue an M.Sc. degree in computing and information systems at the University of Greenwich, completed in 2005.
Dr. Nyangon has a multilayered career as a scientist, energy economist, engineer, author, and a designated expert on clean energy technology. In 2012, he earned an M.P.A. at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York City. Additionally, he obtained a Ph.D. in 2017, with specialization in energy economics, engineering systems and energy policy at the University of Delaware under the tutelage of Professor John Byrne, the architect of the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) model. This polycentric-oriented SEU model has been implemented by the State of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Sonoma County in California, and the Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Finance program, among others. With this interdisciplinary background, Dr. Nyangon is a champion of engineering, economics and policy integrity and the role of next-generation energy system modeling tools to inform decision-making and big market questions now facing the world. Such hypotheses seek to answer whether the increasing investment in decarbonization and digital transformation may usher in acceleration in electric, transportation, and building sectors’ transition and convergence.
When Dr. Nyangon got admitted to engineering school, he dreamed of becoming the next John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematician turned game theorist who won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. In 2020, Dr. Nyangon completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in energy economics and engineering systems at the University of Delaware, United States. In 2021, he authored his first book titled Sustainable Energy Investment: Technical, Market, and Policy Innovations to Address Risk. Sustainable Energy Investment details how financial markets and institutions can support clean energy innovation to accelerate investment and the transition to a climate-resilient and clean energy economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic has slashed down global investments, a shift in mindset about how to work and lead sustainable energy development has emerged as the pandemic has worsened inequalities in income and social mobility. Dr. Nyangon has devoted his career to developing innovative and creative ideas that foster sustainable energy investments. Dr. Nyangon currently leads the design and development of new field-engineered advanced energy solutions targeting decarbonization, digital transformation, and decentralization at the SAS Institute. In this role, he helps electric utilities identify how they can quickly employ analytics to evaluate their systems and generate insights to improve utility operations, policy design, risk pricing strategies, and power system planning decisions.
Accelerating clean energy transformation globally
Dr. Nyangon has been an energy advisor and expert resource to multiple academic institutions, including the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware, the Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment (FREE), and at the Institute for Oil, Gas, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (OGEES Institute) in Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria.
Dr. Nyangon’s first job was working as an observer at international climate change negotiations organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this role, he consulted for a Canadian-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, participating in key energy and climate change negotiations held in Bonn, Geneva, Nairobi, New York, Vienna, and Warsaw. Dr. Nyangon founded Sacital Energy Group, Inc., a New York-based energy and infrastructure advisory and consulting firm, in 2013, with support and collaboration of the Columbia Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Design.
Resource depletion, climate change concerns, and the transition to a clean energy economy are the global challenges close to his mission. With Dr. Nyangon’s engineering background and knowledge of economics and public policy, he has dedicated his career to developing new tools of discovery, innovation, and connection—in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, big data. While working on all these facets of his field, Dr. Nyangon has pursued bringing social change and cultivating critical thinking in individuals. Change begins from within and when there is an effort made to be relentless, attaining success becomes simple.
Practicing consistency and commitment
Dr. Nyangon has partnered with universities in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and North America, leading to publication of over 60 papers in leading international engineering, economics and policy journals. Besides that, Dr. Nyangon currently serves as an Associate Editor of WIREs Energy & Environment and sits on the editorial boards of Energy Research and Social Science journal and the Journal of Smart Cities and Society. Previously, he was a consultant at the United Nations in New York and is a TED Fellow. Dr. Nyangon’s research has been published in, among others, Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning, and Policy; Springer International; the Energy Journal; WIREs Energy and Environment; Energy Research and Social Science; and the Financial Analysts Journal.
Working toward a more just and equitable world requires polycentric governance frameworks, but that’s not stopping Dr. Nyangon from building capacities to execute sustained collaborations. He is regularly meeting with utility executives, regulators and business leaders talking about the next generation technologies that could help us plan ahead for various what-if scenarios. There might be instances of uncertainty and unpredictable factors that can derail the best-laid plans, yet when individuals cultivate relationships across borders, they build a diverse and interdisciplinary ethos that fuel innovation and deliver better outcomes. Dr. Nyangon is a fine example of a relentless professional who is committed to building a better future for all.