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Expert voices: Kayode Akinola of Blue Earth Capital

Photo illustration of Kayode Akinola surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Blue Earth Capital

Investors and founders are sprinting to meet surging energy demand from data centers. But "most things take more time and cost more than you think," Kayode Akinola tells Axios.

Why it matters: Akinola is head of private equity at Blue Earth Capital, a climate-focused impact investor.

  • "Focus on execution," Akinola says. "There are a lot of great ideas, a lot of great products, but scaling them successfully is the challenge. Give yourself enough time and buffer to build what you have a vision for."

This interview was edited for length.

What's been the big news this month in climate-tech?

  • "The sheer escalation of energy demand. That's by and large a result of electrification. It's accelerated by artificial intelligence. It's been ongoing for a while, but it's coming to a head with increasing appreciation of how much energy is required."

What would you add to the narrative?

  • "It's driving demand for clean electrons to power and cool these data centers. That requirement, and the speed that's needed, is pushing the debate to focus on solving intermittency issues for renewables and making data centers more efficient."

By contrast, what's going undernoticed?

  • "It's one thing to find places to store the data and process it, and another thing to generate the electrons — but how do you get the electrons to the data centers to power them?"
  • "I don't think it's undernoticed, but it's not something everyone has been that focused on, because you sometimes take the grid for granted when in fact it needs significant upgrades."

Four fun things:

💼 First job: "I worked for a hi-fi retailer on the shop floor demonstrating and selling hi-fi setups."

👑 Proudest investment: "Helping catalyze private companies. I'm not sure how many people are out there trying to support climate at this point. And the types of investments are important: those that are able to demonstrate real returns with measurable impact."

🤦‍♂️ Facepalm investment: "I would've liked to have not missed the wave of data centers before they were super hot."

💡 In three-ish words, one change you'd make to climate-tech investing: "More widespread knowledge. How important this is, and also how profitable it can be. It's that combination that's going to mobilize more capital."

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