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DOE's $100M announcement, Houston energy leader to lead GHP, and more trending news

At a Houston event, the Department of Energy announced $100 million in cleantech funding — plus more top EnergyCapital headlines from the week. Photos by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Editor's note: It's been a busy week for energy transition news in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included the announcement of the Greater Houston Partnership's next CEO, a $100 million commitment from the Department of Energy at a Rice University event, and more.

National agency announces $100M in funding for energy advancement at Houston event

At Houston event, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy announced $100 million in cleantech funding. Photos by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Rice University played host to the first-of-its-kind event from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, earlier this month in which the governmental agency announced $100 million in funding for its SCALEUP program.

Dubbed “ARPA-E on the Road: Houston,” the event welcomed more than 100 energy innovators to the Hudspeth Auditorium in Rice’s Anderson-Clarke Center on June 8. Evelyn Wang, director of ARPA-E, announced the funding, which represents the third installment from the agency for its program SCALEUP, or Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential, which supports the commercialization of clean energy technology.

The funding is awarded to previous ARPA-E awardees with a "viable road to market" and "ability to attract private sector investments," according to a statement from the Department of Energy. Previous funding was granted in 2019 and 2021. Continue reading.

Energy exec to take the reins of the Greater Houston Partnership

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

Alongtime energy executive has been named the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He'll take on the new role this fall.

The GHP named Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., to the position. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

Dr. Marc L. Boom, GHP board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the announcement at a press conference June 21.

“Steve brings incredible business acumen and leadership skills to the organization," Boom says in a statement. "Coupled with an extraordinary passion for Houston, he will build on the Partnership’s momentum to continue to advance greater Houston as a region of extraordinary growth and opportunity.” Continue reading.

Houston named semifinalist for major NSF energy transition funding opportunity

Houston is in the running to receive millions from a program from the National Science Foundation. Photo via Getty Images

The National Science Foundation announced 34 semifinalists for a regional innovation program that will deploy up to $160 million in federal funding over the next 10 years. Among the list of potential regions to receive this influx of capital is Houston.

The Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Energy Transition Initiative developed the application for the NSF Regional Innovation Engine competition in collaboration with economic, civic, and educational leaders from across the city and five regional universities, including the University of Houston, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Southern University, Rice University, and Texas A&M University.

The proposed project for Houston — called the Accelerating Carbon-Neutral Technologies and Policies for Energy Transition, or ACT, Engine — emphasizes developing sustainable and equitable opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs while also pursuing sustainable and equitable energy access for all. Continue reading.

Houston energy leaders score wins at annual regional entrepreneur competition

These Houston-area executives were recognized by EY's annual regional awards. Photos courtesy

You might say that four Houston executives with ties to the energy sector are energized about an award they just received.

The four executives recently were named winners in the Gulf South division of the Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program. They’ll now compete at the national level. Continue reading.

Houston energy innovator on why now's the right time for energy transition innovation

Jim Gable, vice president of innovation at Chevron and president of Chevron Technology Ventures, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy

The cleantech innovation space has momentum, and Chevron strives to be one of the incumbent energy companies playing a role in that movement, Jim Gable, vice president of innovation at Chevron and president of Chevron Technology Ventures, shares on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

"People call it cleantech 2.0, but it's really cleantech 3.0," Gable says, explaining how he's been there for each wave of cleantech. "The people are better now — the entrepreneurs are better, the investors are better. Exits are here in the cleantech space."

"It's all driven by policy-enabled markets, and the policy is here now too. Twenty years ago, you didn't have nearly the same level of policy influence that you do now," he continues. "Things are coming together to help us really create and deliver that affordable, reliable, ever cleaner energy that's going to be needed for a long time." Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

Discovery Green's Earth Day event generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage — and over 90 percent of it was diverted from landfills. Photo courtesy of Discovery Green

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day

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