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3 things to know this week in Houston's energy transition ecosystem

A geothermal startup from Houston made a global list of climate tech companies to watch — and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem: solar projects makke headlines, Fervo named an energy company to keep an eye on, and more.

Fervo Energy named an energy tech startup to watch

Photo via fervoenergy.com

MIT Technology Review released its list of 15 Climate Tech Companies to Watch this year, and Fervo Energy, a Houston-based, rapidly scaling geothermal energy company made the cut.

"Fervo’s enhanced geothermal approach promises to significantly expand the areas where we could tap into the carbon-free and nearly limitless source of energy beneath our feet. Geothermal offers the added advantage of generating electricity around the clock and calendar, making it an ideal clean source to fill in the gaps as grids increasingly come to rely on fluctuating renewables like solar and wind," reads the writeup on the company.

"It could provide a much cheaper or less controversial way of fixing that fundamental challenge in cleaning up the grid than building giant battery plants or adding nuclear power reactors, respectively," the MIT Technology Review continues.

Fervo, which announced earlier this year that its commercial pilot project has resulted in continuous carbon-free geothermal energy production, has raised $187 million since it was founded in 2017.

The article points to not only the accomplishments of the startup, but also the challenges it faces, including further proving out its technology's "effectively, affordably, and consistently on larger scales."

Events not to miss

People huddled in groups for networking

Photo via Getty Images

Put these upcoming events on your radar.

  • October 10-11 — SPRINT Robotics World Conference and Exhibition will show that many robots are in use and that the industry is accelerating and starting to scale. Learn more.
  • October 11-12 — Hydrogen North America 2023 will showcase the hydrogen economy and provoke thought leadership from the industry's experts. Learn more.
  • October 30-31 — Fuze is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Learn more.

A moment for the solar energy news

Photo via Getty Images

Last week, there was a few big stories across solar energy.

  • Sunnova announced a loan from the DOE for up to $5 billion. Read more.
  • A Houston nonprofit powers its community outreach to Houston's food deserts with mobile solar energy.Read more.
  • BP broke ground on its Texas solar farm that it plans to open next year. Read more.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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