Guest column

Houston experts: Amplifying startup success is key in the energy transition era

The future energy system will be made up of countless new technologies that are actively being developed and scaled by climate and energy startups around the world. Photo via Getty Images

The global energy landscape is undergoing unprecedented challenges, influenced by post-pandemic work trends, geopolitical events like the Ukraine crisis, and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

To achieve net-zero goals by 2050 and address climate change, a significant investment of $5 trillion by 2030 to USD $4.5 trillion by 2050 is required, necessitating a rapid transformation in traditional energy production, distribution, storage, and consumption methods.

High-tech energy and climate startups are pivotal for a robust economy, driving innovation, economic growth, and enhanced productivity. These startups foster healthy competition, attract crucial investments, and contribute significantly to job creation, outpacing larger companies in terms of employment generation. The U.S., a startup leader, generated over 3.7 million new jobs in 2022, showcasing the adaptability of startups to market trends. Globally, India, with the third-largest startup ecosystem, has contributed to the creation of 860,000 jobs since the stand-up of Startup India, emphasizing the importance of nurturing startups for sustained economic dynamism and innovation.

The future energy system will be made up of countless new technologies that are actively being developed and scaled by climate and energy startups around the world. These founding teams require access to scaling resources to accelerate and amplify their impact. Human talent, financial investment, demonstration opportunities and physical facilities are scaling resources that often require significant time and capital to build from scratch. This inefficient resource deployment can be particularly pronounced for hard-tech entrepreneurs. Startup community participants are organized around providing entrepreneurs with the needed access to these resources.

"Our mission is to enable hydrogen adoption by solving the key challenges in hydrogen storage and transportation," says Ayrton CEO, Natasha Kostenuk. "With Halliburton's strategic engineering and manufacturing support, we can scale our technology, execute pilot demonstrations and accelerate towards commercialization."

Halliburton Labs, is highlighted for its diverse team and the support it provides to global entrepreneurs in sustainable ventures. The future energy system is envisioned to be composed of numerous new technologies developed and scaled by climate and energy startups worldwide. These startups require access to scaling resources mentioned above, where Halliburton Labs serves as a conduit between established practitioners and startup entrepreneurs, accelerating the latter's impact by providing access to these critical resources.

Infosys launched the Infosys Innovation Fund to invest in entrepreneurial ventures around the world. Their investment philosophy is geared toward supporting innovation and purposeful solutions that are relevant to the strategic priorities of their clients. This differentiates the Infosys Innovation Fund from most other venture capital institutions, in that they have a strong motivation to create long term value for the end users of the technology and to the companies building these solutions.

Infosys actively collaborates with emerging technology startups through its Infosys Innovation Fund. Employing a Desirability, Feasibility, Viability (DFV) framework, Infosys strategically selects startups and offers advantages such as market, financial and technical scale. The Infosys Innovation Fund stands out for its motivation to create long-term value for end users and the companies building innovative solutions. Infosys also operates an incubation center called ‘Infosys Center for Emerging Technology Solutions’ (iCETS), focusing on NextGen services and offerings through collaboration with clients, startup partnerships, university collaborations, and more.

Startups working with Infosys benefit from accessing the company's know-how, market knowledge, and strategic advisors from the consulting arm of business, Infosys Consulting, who are focused on creating business value through technology innovation. The combined expertise guides entrepreneurs from idea to qualification, proof-of-concept, prototype, minimum viable product (MVP), scale, and continuous discovery and delivery.

Open innovation and trusted partnerships in the energy transition era

In the energy transition era, open innovation and trusted partnerships are becoming essential components of amplifying success for startups. Collaborative cultures and trusted partnerships with companies like Infosys and Halliburton Labs are crucial for supporting and scaling startups in this rapidly evolving energy landscape. This shift towards ‘open innovation’ reflects a broader trend in the industry toward collaboration and shared expertise as key drivers for success to accelerate and achieve global energy transition aspirations.

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Scott Gale is the executive director of Halliburton Labs. Jason Till is partner of Experience Transformation & Innovation at Infosys Consulting. Rima Thakkar is principal - Americas Energy Transition at Infosys Consulting. Laura Sacchi, Mandar Joshi, and Sonali Sakhare of Infosys Consulting contributed to this article.

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A View From HETI

Fervo Energy says its drilling operations Utah’s Cape Station show a 70 percent reduction in drilling times, paving the way for advancement of its geothermal energy system. Photo via fervoenergy.com

Early drilling results indicate a geothermal energy project operated in Utah by Houston-based startup Fervo Energy is performing better than expected.

Fervo says its drilling operations Utah’s Cape Station show a 70 percent reduction in drilling times, paving the way for advancement of its geothermal energy system. Fervo began construction last year on Cape Station, which is set to deliver clean power to the grid in 2026 and be fully operating by 2028.

The company recently published early drilling results from Cape Station that it says exceed the U.S. Department of Energy’s expectations for enhanced geothermal systems. Fervo says these results “substantiate the rapid learning underway in the geothermal industry and signal readiness for continued commercialization.”

Founded in 2017, Fervo provides carbon-free energy through development of next-generation geothermal power.

Fervo began drilling at Cape Station, a 400-megawatt project in southwest Utah, in June 2023. Over the past six months, the company has drilled one vertical well and six horizontal wells there. The company reports that costs for the first four horizontal wells at Cape Station fell from $9.4 million to $4.8 million per well.

“Since its inception, Fervo has looked to bring a manufacturing mentality to enhanced geothermal development, building a highly repeatable drilling process that allows for continuous improvement and, as a result, lower costs,” Tim Latimer, Fervo’s co-founder and CEO, says in a news release. “In just six months, we have proven that our technology solutions have led to a dramatic acceleration in forecasted drilling performance.”

Trey Lowe, chief technology officer of Oklahoma City-based oil and gas producer Devon Energy, likens Fervo’s drilling results to “the early days of the shale revolution.” Last year, Devon invested $10 million in Fervo.

“When you operate continually and understand the resource, you dramatically streamline operations. That’s the unique value of Fervo’s approach to enhanced geothermal,” says Lowe.

Last summer, Fervo reported the results of another one of its projects, Project Red, which is in northern Nevada and made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google. That site officially went online for the tech company in December.

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