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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.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

Greentown Labs has a new tool for evaluating potential members. Photo via Getty Images

If you want to be a member at either Boston-area or Houston location of Greentown Labs, you better have a small carbon footprint.

Leading global venture capital firm Clean Energy Ventures, which funds early-stage climate tech innovations, announced a partnership to offer access to the firm’s Simple Emissions Reduction Calculator (SERC) to Greentown Labs, the largest climate tech incubator in North America that is dually located in Houston and Sommerville, Massachusetts. New members will be required to report their CO2e emissions reduction potential as part of the incubator’s climate impact assessment as part of the Greentown Labs’ application process.

Greentown Labs has nurtured more than 525 companies across its two locations with a 94 percent success rate for startups. Greentown Labs supports and fosters collaboration with corporates, early-stage entrepreneurs, investors, government and other players while providing members access to labs and resources.

“As we continue our work to support the most innovative climate tech startups, we’re doubling down on how we quantify impact — both the impact Greentown Labs is having on the entrepreneurs we’re privileged to support, and the impact the startups themselves are having by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Kevin Knobloch, CEO and president of Greentown Labs, says in a news release. “Having access to this timely tool that Clean Energy Ventures has created is elevating our recruitment efforts and helping us standardize how we quantify the projected impact of our member community.”

CEV developed SERC in 2021 to assist startups with tools and algorithms to estimate their technology or business model’s emissions reduction potential. SERC is now used as an essential screening tool in over 1,000 companies asn a climate tech accelerators, incubators and investors across the globe, and was awarded an honorable mention by Fast Company World Changing Ideas in 2022.

“As climate tech investors, we are always eager to support the growth of an ecosystem of innovation and impact,” CEV Managing Partner David Miller in says in the release. “With the number of climate tech companies seeking investments today, startups that are able to estimate their innovation’s capacity to mitigate CO2e emissions truly stand out from the crowd and are more likely to secure investment. Through SERC, investors are able to gain critical insight to back the most impactful technologies with the potential to address climate change as quickly as possible over the next two decades.”

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