wind in the west

Low-carbon energy company with U.S. HQ in Houston to launch Texas wind energy plant later this year

Located in Callahan County, Texas, outside of Abilene, ENGIE's Century Oak Wind Project is nearing completion. Photo courtesy of Engie

A wind energy project being built just east of Abilene by Houston-based ENGIE North America will annually supply 65 megawatts of power to Ferguson, a distributor of hardware, tools, plumbing supplies, and other industrial items.

Under a newly signed agreement, ENGIE’s 153-megawatt Century Oak project is expected to generate enough wind energy to meet most of Ferguson’s electrical needs in the U.S. and Canada. This energy would power the equivalent of 34,000 typical homes in the U.S. The project features 45 wind turbines.

The Century Oak project is creating about 300 to 400 construction jobs. It’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

Paperwork submitted in 2021 to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts indicates ENGIE North America, a subsidiary of French utility company ENGIE, is investing more than $140 million in the project.

Across North America, ENGIE is building or operating nearly seven gigawatts’ worth of wind, solar, and storage capacity.

“We have activities in more than 100 counties across the U.S. and Canada — the energy transition is really one that will be powered by communities across the continent,” says Dave Carroll, chief renewables officer at ENGIE North America.

ENGIE’s other wind energy customers in Texas include Akamai, Allianz, GetBlok Farms, Ingersoll Rand, Microsoft, and Walmart.

Last year, ENGIE North America wrapped up $800 million in financing for three renewable energy projects in the U.S., including a wind farm in Texas, that are capable of generating 665 megawatts of renewable energy.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A University of Houston team looked into what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation. Photo via UH.edu

A team of researchers at the University of Houston are using machine learning to help guide pollution fighting strategies.

As reported in the journal Environmental Pollution last month, the team used the SHAP algorithm of machine learning (a game theory approach) and the Positive Matrix Factorization to pinpoint what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation.

The paper was authored by Delaney Nelson, a doctoral student at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of UH, and Yunsoo Choi, corresponding author and professor of atmospheric chemistry, AI deep learning, air quality modeling and satellite remote sensing.

The team's research closely tracked nitrogen-based compound and volatile organic compound measurements from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's monitoring stations in the Houston area. After importing measurements from The Lynchburg Ferry station in Houston's ship channel and the urban Milby Park station, the machine learning and SHAP analysis showed a chemically definitive difference between the two areas.

For example, at the industrial station, the most impactful sources of pollution were from oil and gas flaring/production. At the urban site n_decane and industrial emissions/evaporation had the most impact on ozone.

According to Nelson and Choi, this shows that the machine learning and SHAP analysis approach can be used to tailor more precise air quality management strategies in different areas based on the site's unique characteristics.

“Once we know the specific emission sources and factors, we can develop targeted strategies to reduce emissions, which will in turn reduce ozone in the air and make it healthier for everyone," Choi said in a statement.

“Pollution is a critical issue in Houston, where you have extreme high heat and high concentration of ozone in the summers. The types of insights we got are very useful information for the local community to develop effective policies. That’s why we put our time, effort and technological expertise into this project," he continued.

Next the team envisions applying their approach in different cities and across the country.

“Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all have different characteristics, so I expect (volatile organic compound) sources will also be different,” Choi said. “Identifying VOC sources in different cities is very important because each city should have its own unique pollution fighting strategy.”

This summer, the City of Houston released an updated report on its major strategies to combat climate change and build a more resilient future for its residents.

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