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Equinor buys into CCS project, Rice Alliance names energy startup participants, and more trending news

Who will be presenting at the 20th annual Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum — and more trending news from the week. Photo via rice.edu

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 Rice Alliance naming its Energy Tech Venture Day participants, Equinor opting in to a CCS project on the Gulf Coast, and more.

Exclusive: Rice Alliance announces participants ahead of 20th annual energy symposium

Next month, 96 startups will pitch at an annual event focused on the future of energy. Here's who will be there. Photo via rice.edu

Dozens of companies will be a part of an upcoming energy-focused conference at Rice University — from climate tech startups to must-see keynote speakers.

The 20th annual Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum will take place on September 21 at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Anyone who's interested in learning more about the major players in the low-carbon future in Houston and beyond should join the industry leaders, investors, and promising energy and cleantech startups in attendance.

This year's keynote speakers include Christina Karapataki, partner at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the venture capital fund backed by Bill Gates; Scott Nyquist, vice chairman at Houston Energy Transition Initiative, founded by the Greater Houston Partnership; and Jeff Tillery, COO at Veriten. Read more.

Equinor buys into massive CCS joint venture project near Houston

Through an acquisition, Equinor has joined a joint venture carbon capture and storage project in southeast Texas. Image via Getty Images

A Norwegian energy company with its United States headquarters in Houston has announced it has acquired a significant chunk of a carbon capture and storage joint venture.

Equinor now owns a 25 percent interest in Bayou Bend CCS LLC, which is reported to be one of the largest domestic carbon capture and storage projects. The project — a JV between Chevron, Talos Energy Inc., and now Equinor, is located along the Gulf Coast in southeast Texas. The terms of the deal were not disclosed

“Commercial CCS solutions are critical for hard-to-abate industries to meet their climate ambitions while maintaining their activity," Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor, says in a news release. "Entering Bayou Bend strengthens our low carbon solutions portfolio and supports our ambition to mature and develop 15-30 million tonnes of equity CO2 transport and storage capacity per year by 2035. Our experience from developing carbon storage projects can help advance decarbonization efforts in one of the largest industrial corridors in the US." Read more.

New Houston company launches to turn recycled materials into fuel

Tired of slow tire decomposition? This Houston company has a solution. Photo via InnoVentRenewables.com

Every year, over a billion tires are disposed of globally, and, while in use, tires are used to reach maximum speed on the road, their decomposition times are inordinately slow.

Houston-based InnoVent Renewables has a solution. The company launched this week to drive renewable energy forward with its proprietary continuous pyrolysis technology that is able to convert waste tires, plastics, and biomass into fuels and chemicals.

“We are thrilled to formally launch InnoVent Renewables and plan to ramp-up operations into early 2024," InnoVent Renewables CEO Vibhu Sharma says in a news release. “Our investors, strategic advisors, and management team are all fully committed to our success as we address the global challenge of waste tires. We firmly believe our proven process, deployed at scale globally, will have a huge positive impact on our climate and fill a clear environment need.” Read more.

French company to acquire Houston-based battery storage startup in $1B deal

Broad Reach Power's battery storage assets piqued a French company's interest. Photo via broadreachpower.com

A French utility company is buying the bulk of Houston-based Broad Reach Power’s battery energy storage business in a deal carrying an equity value of more than $1 billion.

Engie, has agreed to purchase the majority of the startup’s battery storage business from EnCap Energy Transition Fund I and three investment partners — New York City-based Yorktown Partners, Switzerland-based Mercuria Energy, and New York City-based Apollo Infrastructure Funds.

“This acquisition is fully in line with Engie’s strategy: It will contribute to the development of a low-carbon, affordable, and resilient energy system where flexible assets will play a critical role alongside renewables,” says Catherine MacGregor, the utility’s CEO. Read more.

How this 78-year-old Houston chemical company is evolving as an energy tech leader

“When we were founded, we were a chemical company. Today, we have morphed into a technology company,” says Kendra Lee, CEO of Merichem. Photo via LinkedIn

Kendra Lee had no designs on running the family business.

“In fact, I never planned on being a part of Merichem,” Lee recalls.

In 1945, Lee’s grandfather, John T. Files, and a pair of business partners founded the company in Houston. Their goal was to take a potential waste product and turn it into something that would benefit the oil and gas industry — an early attempt at sustainability.

What started as a soap and industrial cleaning company began procuring cresylate, which is a waste from the refineries treating gasoline, to recover spent cresylic acids, which are highly caustic, and refine them so they could be sold into the industrial chemicals market. Read more.

Trending News

A View From HETI

The HyVelocity Hub, representing the Gulf Coast region, will receive $1.2 billion to strengthen and further build out the region's hydrogen production. Photo via Getty Images

Not only has a Houston-area project been announced as one of the seven regions to receive a part of the $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to advance domestic hydrogen production — but the Bayou City is getting one of the largest pieces of the pie.

President Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm named the seven regions to receive funding in a White House statement today. The Gulf Coast's project, HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, will receive up to $1.2 billion — the most any hub will receive, per the release.

“As I’ve stated repeatedly over the past years, we are uniquely positioned to lead a transformational clean hydrogen hub that will deliver economic growth and good jobs, including in historically underserved communities," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a news release. "HyVelocity will also help scale up national and world clean hydrogen economies, resulting in significant decarbonization gains. I’d also like to thank all the partners who came together to create HyVelocity Hub in a true spirit of public-private collaboration.”

Backed by industry partners AES Corporation, Air Liquide, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Power Americas, Ørsted, and Sempra Infrastructure, the HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub will connect more than 1,000 miles of hydrogen pipelines, 48 hydrogen production facilities, and dozens of hydrogen end-use applications across Texas and Southwest Louisiana. The hub is planning for large-scale hydrogen production through both natural gas with carbon capture and renewables-powered electrolysis.

The project is spearheaded by GTI Energy and other organizing participants, including the University of Texas at Austin, The Center for Houston’s Future, Houston Advanced Research Center, and around 90 other supporting partners from academia, industry, government, and beyond.

“Prioritizing strong community engagement and demonstrating an innovation ecosystem, the HyVelocity Hub will improve local air quality and create equitable access to clean, reliable, affordable energy for communities across the Gulf Coast region,” says Paula A. Gant, president and CEO of GTI Energy, in a news release.

According to the White House's announcement, the hub will create 45,000 direct jobs — 35,000 in construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. The other selected hubs — and the impact they are expected to have, include:

  • Tied with HyVelocity in terms of funding amount, the California Hydrogen Hub — Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES) — will also receive up to $1.2 billion to create 220,000 direct jobs—130,000 in construction jobs and 90,000 permanent jobs. The project is expected to target decarbonizing public transportation, heavy duty trucking, and port operations.
  • The Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2), spanning Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, will receive up to $1 billion. This region's efforts will be directed at optimizing hydrogen use in steel and glass production, power generation, refining, heavy-duty transportation, and sustainable aviation fuel. It's expected to create 13,600 direct jobs—12,100 in construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.
  • Receiving up to $1 billion and targeting Washington, Oregon, and Montana, the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub — named PNW H2— will produce clean hydrogen from renewable sources and will create over 10,000 direct jobs—8,050 in construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs.
  • The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2), which will be located in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, will tap into existing infrastructure to use low-cost natural gas to produce low-cost clean hydrogen and permanently and safely store the associated carbon emissions. The project, which will receive up to $925 million, will create 21,000 direct jobs—including more than 18,000 in construction and more than 3,000 permanent jobs.
  • Spanning Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, the Heartland Hydrogen Hub will receive up to $925 million and create around 3,880 direct jobs–3,067 in construction jobs and 703 permanent jobs — to decarbonize the agricultural sector’s production of fertilizer, decrease the regional cost of clean hydrogen, and advance hydrogen use in electric generation and for cold climate space heating.
  • Lastly, the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2), which will include Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, hopes to repurposing historic oil infrastructure to develop renewable hydrogen production facilities from renewable and nuclear electricity. The hub, which will receive up to $750 million, anticipates creating 20,800 direct jobs—14,400 in construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.

These seven clean hydrogen hubs are expected to catalyze more than $40 billion in private investment, per the White house, and bring the total public and private investment in hydrogen hubs to nearly $50 billion. Collectively, they aim to produce more than three million metric tons of clean hydrogen annually — which reaches nearly one third of the 2030 U.S. clean hydrogen production goal. Additionally, the hubs will eliminate 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from end uses each year. That's roughly equivalent to annual emissions of over 5.5 million gasoline-powered cars.

“Unlocking the full potential of hydrogen—a versatile fuel that can be made from almost any energy resource in virtually every part of the country—is crucial to achieving President Biden’s goal of American industry powered by American clean energy, ensuring less volatility and more affordable clean energy options for American families and businesses,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm says in the release. “With this historic investment, the Biden-Harris Administration is laying the foundation for a new, American-led industry that will propel the global clean energy transition while creating high quality jobs and delivering healthier communities in every pocket of the nation.”

HyVelocity has been a vision amongst Houston energy leaders for over a year, announcing its bid for regional hydrogen hub funding last November. Another Houston-based clean energy project was recently named a semi-finalist for National Science Foundation funding.

“We are excited to get to work making HyVelocity come to life,” Brett Perlman, president and CEO of Center for Houston’s Future, says in the release. “We look forward to spurring economic growth and development, creating jobs, and reducing emissions in ways that will benefit local communities and the Gulf Coast region as a whole. HyVelocity will be a model for creating a clean hydrogen ecosystem in an inclusive and equitable manner.”

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