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Startup raises funds, solar project details revealed, and more trending Houston energy transition news

Solar deals announced — and more trending Houston energy transition news. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included details on solar projects, an energy tech startup's recent raise, and more.


Houston-based, AI-powered electricity analytics company raises $20M series B

Energy tech platform Amperon raised $20 million. Photo via Amperon.co

A Houston startup has raised $20 million in its latest round of funding in order to accelerate its energy analytics and grid decarbonization technology.

Amperon Holdings Inc. announced today that it closed its series B round at $20 million. Energize Capital led the round and the D. E. Shaw group, Veriten, and HSBC Asset Management, an existing investor, joined in on the round. Additionally, two of Amperon's early customers, Ørsted and another strategic utility partner, participated in the series B, which brought Amperon’s total funding to $30 million.

The fresh funding will support the company in evolving its platform that conducts electricity demand forecasting to a comprehensive data analytics solution. Read more.

DOE loans Houston company $3B for project that will provide solar energy to underserved communities

Houston-based Sunnova Energy has secured a loan from the Department of Energy. Photo via sunnova.com

A partial loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy will support more than $5 billion in loans for Sunnova Energy equipment and technology that’ll supply solar energy to underserved communities.

The $3 billion partial loan guarantee equates to a 90 percent guarantee of up to $3.3 billion in loans. In turn, Sunnova says, that’ll support more than $5 billion in loans to about 75,000 to 115,000 U.S. households. It’s said to be the largest single commitment to solar power ever made by the federal government.

At least 20 percent of the Project Hestia loans will be extended to customers with FICO credit scores of 680 or less, and up to 20 percent of the loans will be earmarked for homeowners in impoverished Puerto Rico. Read more.

Nonprofit harvests solar energy to serve Houston's food deserts

Sustainable nonprofit Urban Harvest has upgraded to use solar energy. Photo courtesy Andrew Hemingway/Urban Harvest

Houston nonprofit Urban Harvest is plugging into the power of solar energy.

The nonprofit’s Mobile Market program has added a custom-designed, solar-equipped trailer to its fleet. The market provides fresh locally sourced food to “food deserts.”

“By harnessing the sun’s energy, the trailer can become a self-sustaining unit, eliminating reliance on conventional power sources for a substantial period of time,” says Urban Harvest.

The trailer consists of a Ford F150 hybrid truck with a custom-designed trailer that’s equipped with solar power capabilities. The unit enables Urban Harvest to store and transport nearly $5,000 worth of fresh produce and goods to support the Mobile Market program, which serves an average of 1,200 customers each month. Read more.

BP breaks ground​ on Texas solar farm, plans to open it next year

BP's solar park is scheduled to begin operating in the second half of 2024. Photo via bp.com

British energy giant BP, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, has started construction on a 187-megawatt solar farm about 10 miles northeast of Corpus Christi.

The Peacock Solar facility will generate power for a nearby chemical complex operated by Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, a joint venture between Spring-based energy company ExxonMobil and SABIC, a Saudi Arabian chemical conglomerate whose products are used to make clothes, food containers, packaging, agricultural film, and construction materials. SABIC’s Americas headquarters is in Houston.

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures opened the plant in 2022. The joint venture says the ethylene cracker and derivatives complex, located northwest of the town of Gregory, employs about 600 people.Read more.

UH Energy names latest winners of commercialization competition

UH's winning team, ECHO, or Electrochemical CO2 Harvester from the Ocean, was awarded a $25,000 award from Chevron. Photo courtesy of UH

UH Energy named its second Innovation Commercialization Competition winners earlier this month with the goal of identifying promising ideas within the university that could have an impact in the energy transition.

The winning team, ECHO, or Electrochemical CO2 Harvester from the Ocean, was awarded a $25,000 award from Chevron, the event's sponsor, after presenting their pitch in front of a live Houston audience earlier this month.

“You don’t see the full impact of a good idea until someone figures out a way to convert it to a usable product or service that has value, brings it to market and makes money off of it—this is what makes it a sustainable business,” S. Radhakrishnan, the competition's coordinator and a retired University of Houston business professor, says. “To have a successful energy transition, we need many innovative ideas to be commercialized.” Read more.

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A View From HETI

SCS Technologies named Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI, as the executive chairperson of its inaugural urban reforestation event next month. Photo via GHP

One of Houston's foremost energy transition leaders has been named to a community urban reforestation project from a Texas energy company.

Big Spring, Texas-based SCS Technologies named Jane Stricker, executive director of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, as the executive chairperson of its inaugural urban reforestation event next month.

SCS, a provider of liquid hydrocarbon, water, and CO2 measurement systems, is holding the event on March 23 at the Galena Park Resource and Training Center in Galena Park, Texas, in collaboration with One Tree Planted and Trees for Houston.

“We are honored that Jane Stricker is spearheading our Galena Park tree-planting effort. As a revered leader in the energy transformation movement, Jane's impact is profound across Houston’s diverse energy sector and internationally,” Cody Johnson, CEO of SCS Technologies, says in a news release. “Jane's stewardship of this event underscores the vital importance of fostering partnerships between the community and industry to improve local environments and make strides in reducing our collective carbon footprint.

"Our donation of trees to the Galena Park area—a community just east of Houston materially affected by emissions from surrounding petrochemical plants—is one step towards environmental restoration and tree equity," he continues.

The goal for the event is to give out 1,125 shade, flowering, and fruit trees to community members, who will be asked to plant at their homes and businesses.

“The vast undertaking of the energy transformation requires more than just technological innovation; it demands a shared commitment from all sectors to enact real change. SCS Technologies is leading by example, demonstrating how innovative solutions and community-focused actions can drive meaningful change,” Stricker adds in the release. “As the executive chairperson, I am proud to be part of the Galena Park tree distribution event, an initiative that illustrates our shared dedication to environmental sustainability and community enrichment. The impact of these trees extends beyond carbon sequestration, bringing beauty and much-needed shade from our hot summer sun to the Galena Park community.”

The initiative is a part of SCS's goal to plant 100,000 trees in "economically challenged urban neighborhoods" across Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana by 2030. The company, per its environmental initiatives, is also participating in SME Net Zero by 2050.

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