year in review

Looking back: 5 most-read Houston solar energy stories of 2023

Major solar energy projects announce deals — and other top solar energy stories on EnergyCapital this year. Photo by Pixabay

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, EnergyCapital is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston energy transition. Houston's really charged up about the impact of solar energy has on lowering emissions amid the energy transition. Several stories of solar project news and even a Q&A with a Houston solar executive resonated with readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.

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 the full article from October.

Texas company secures $200M for solar project near Houston

The project will take over more than 1,000 acres of former farmland about an hour outside of Houston. Photo via Getty Images

An Austin-based company has scored $200 million in financing for a solar energy project it’s building in Liberty County.

Recurrent Energy’s 134-megawatt Liberty Solar project, about 50 miles northeast of Houston, is scheduled to start operating in 2024. The facility will occupy more than 1,000 acres of former farmland about six miles south of Dayton.

Last year, Recurrent Energy indicated the project represented an investment of $155 million, according to paperwork filed with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

The company lined up $120 million in financing through Rabobank, Nord LB, and U.S. Bank in the form of construction debt, a letter-of-credit facility, and a term facility. In addition, U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Bank, is providing $80 million in tax equity. Read the full article from September.

Houston solar exec says a major key to slowing climate change is offering energy independence

John Berger, CEO of Houston-based Sunnova, explains the importance of energy independence and solar's role in achieving it. Courtesy of Sunnova

Following extreme temperatures and increasing grid instability this summer, CEO and Chairman of the board of residential solar power service company Sunnova Energy Corp., John Berger, is encouraging individuals to take charge of their energy needs.

Berger founded the Houston-grown company back in 2012, before solar energy was seen as a hip, clean power source. Now, Sunnova (NYSE: NOVA) is a leader in residential solar installations.

In a discussion with EnergyCapital Berger broke down misconceptions about solar power, predicted the rise of the home as a power station, and highlighted the importance of energy independence. Read the full interview from September.

Global energy company opens solar farm outside of Houston

TotalEnergies' new solar farm outside of Houston is the size of 1,800 football fields. Photo via totalenergies.com

A global energy corporation has a new solar farm online and operating just outside of Houston.

TotalEnergies (NYSE: TTE) has started commercial operations of its new solar farm, Myrtle Solar, just south of Houston. The farm has a capacity of 380 megawatts peak of solar production and 225 MWh of co-located batteries. Spread across the space — which is about the size of 1,800 football fields — are 705,000 solar panels producing enough electricity to power 70,000 homes.

Seventy percent of the power generated will be sourced for TotalEnergies' industrial plants in the U.S. Gulf Coast region, and the remaining 30 percent will be used by Kilroy Realty, a publicly traded real estate company, per a 15-year corporate power purchase agreement. Read the full article from October.

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 the full article from October.

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A View From HETI

Greentown Labs announced it's receiving a percentage of Prithvi Ventures' proceeds. Photo courtesy of Greentown Labs

Effective immediately, Greentown Labs, which has locations in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, is benefitting from funds raised by an investment group.

Greentown Labs, a nonprofit climatetech incubator, announced its partnership with New York-based Prithvi Ventures, a firm that specializes in early-stage climatetech. The unique partnership includes Prithvi Ventures donating "a percentage of proceeds received from its Fund 1 and Fund 2 to Greentown on a quarterly basis, in perpetuity," per Greentown's news release. The exact percentage was not disclosed.

“There’s an understanding in sports that the best teams always take responsibility and accountability for their own and look out for each other—that the members of the team are a reflection of the franchise,” says Kunal Sethi, founder and general partner at Prithvi Ventures. “I have always believed the same to be true in venture, too.

"Founders should know their supporters, team, and cap tables inside and out. It matters who you surround yourself with and Greentown Labs is always the first name that comes up for me," he continues. "Every founder in climatetech should work with them or they’re missing out on so much.”

Prithvi Ventures already has a handful Greentown member companies in its investment portfolio, including Carbon Upcycling, Mars Materials, Nth Cycle, and Rheom Materials. The firm has invested in 30 companies total, and aims to lead rounds, preferring to be the first large check for the startups it invests in.

“We are delighted to deepen our relationship with Prithvi Ventures and are grateful for their ongoing support,” Aisling Carlson, senior vice president of partnerships at Greentown Labs, says in the statement. “Through this new partnership, Prithvi Ventures and its limited partners are setting an example for how the venture community can more directly support the incubators and accelerators working to catalyze climatetech innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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