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Company shares new digs, Rice researches small-scale carbon capture and more top articles in Houston energy

A California-based company revealed its new local office space — and more trending Houston energy transition news. Photo courtesy Pattern Energy

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 a a small-scale carbon capture device being designed by Rice University researchers, a renewable energy company's new Houston office, ExxonMobil's official Houston HQ news, and more.


Rice scientists develop simple but game-changing carbon capture device

Peng Zhu (left) and Haotian Wang developed a carbon-capture device prototype. Photos courtesy Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

A Rice University lab has developed an efficient, scalable way to capture carbon dioxide — and it just needs to be plugged into a power outlet to work.

The new technology developed in the lab of chemical and biomolecular engineer Haotian Wang, the William Marsh Rice Trustee Chair and an associate professor at Rice, uses electricity to remove carbon dioxide from air capture to induce a water-and-oxygen-based electrochemical reaction. The findings were shared in a study published in Nature last month.

Traditionally, carbon capture requires very energy intensive processes that need high temperatures and for the carbon that's been captured to be regenerated. The process also often requires large-scale infrastructure.

In the Wang lab's method, the small reactor can continuously remove carbon dioxide from a simulated flue gas with nearly 100 percent efficiency, generating between 10 to 25 liters of high-purity carbon using only the power of a standard lightbulb, according to a statement from Rice. Continue reading.

California renewable energy infrastructure company opens new Houston office

Pattern Energy, a California-based company with over 150 employees in Houston, revealed its new local office space. Photo courtesy Pattern Energy

A company that's developing renewable energy projects has officially opened their new Houston office that will house its 150-person local development team.

Pattern Energy Group LP, headquartered in San Francisco, has moved its Houston operations into the Montrose Collective at 888 Westheimer Road. The new mixed-use complex developed by Radom Capital is home to restaurants, spas, and other retailers.

"We are doubling down on our commitment to Houston with an innovative new office that is designed to foster the collaborative nature of our work to develop some of America's most ambitious clean power projects," says Hunter Armistead, CEO of Pattern Energy, in a June news release. "Leveraging Houston's top-notch energy workforce has been an important component of our success and we look forward to tapping the City's talent base for our continued growth. Continue reading.

Breaking news: ExxonMobil's HQ officially changed to Houston

ExxonMobil is officially HQ-ed in Houston — according to a recent SEC filing. Photo via ExxonMobil.com

As of this month, ExxonMobil's headquarters is officially Houston, according to a recent filing.

ExxonMobil's company page on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission now lists its new Houston-area address — 22777 Springwoods Village Parkway in Spring. While the ExxonMobil's site still lists it's Irving, Texas, address, the SEC filing dated July 5 marks a significant step toward the HQ move that Exxon originally announced in early 2022.

In the initial announcement, the company disclosed that the move, which will combine its chemical and refining divisions, will be completed by 2023. ExxonMobil’s Spring office was opened by former CEO Rex Tillerson in 2014. Continue reading.

Houston exec breaks down Texas energy market, role of renewables, and more

Houston-based Rhythm Energy CEO and founder, PJ Popovic, discusses the landscape of Texas' energy market and how renewables should be incorporated. Photo courtesy of Rhythm

After experiencing the hottest day on record this past Fourth of July, PJ Popovic — CEO and founder of green energy retailer Rhythm Energy — explained what extreme temperatures like these mean for Texas’ energy market and the role renewables will play in addressing increased demand response.

Headquartered in Houston, Rhythm Energy launched two years ago and offers a variety of 100 percent renewable energy backed plans, from wind to solar. Popovic discussed with EnergyCapital where he thinks renewables fit into Texas’ energy consumption and grid reliability issues in an interview. Continue reading.

DOE announces over $60M in federal funding for power grid improvement

The United States Department of Energy is doling out over $200 million for grid improvements — and one of the largest portions will be coming to Texas. Photo via Getty Images

Texas is getting $60.6 million in federal grants to bolster the state’s frequently taxed power grid.

The funding, announced July 6 by the U.S. Department of Energy, totals over $200 million to be distributed across the country. The Lone Star State's chunk will be earmarked for pinpointing gaps in the grid’s dependability and reducing weather-related grid disruptions. The Texas Division of Energy Management will decide how to dole out the money.

“By itself, is $60 million going to be determinative to make our grid reliable? Of course not,” Doug Lewin, president of Austin-based energy consulting firm Stoic Energy, tells the Austin American-Statesman. “It’ll cost more than that, but every bit counts, and $60 million is not a small amount of money, so [the state] could probably do a lot of good with that.” Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

A Houston-based initiative has been selected by the DOE to receive funding to develop clean energy innovation programming for startups and entrepreneurs. Photo via Getty Images

Houston has been selected as one of the hubs backed by a new program from the United States Department of Energy that's developing communities for clean energy innovation.

The DOE's Office of Technology Transitions announced the the first phase of winners of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters, or EPIC, Round 3. The local initiative is one of 23 incubators and accelerators that was awarded $150,000 to support programming for energy startups and entrepreneurs.

The Houston-based participant is called "Texas Innovates: Carbon and Hydrogen Innovation and Learning Incubator," or CHILI, and it's a program meant to feed startups into the DOE recognized HyVelocity program and other regional decarbonization efforts.

EPIC was launched to drive innovation at a local level and to inspire commercial success of energy startups. It's the third year of the competition that wraps up with a winning participant negotiating a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million.

“Incubators and Accelerators are uniquely positioned to provide startups things they can't get anywhere else -- mentorship, technology validation, and other critical business development support," DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT Vanessa Z. Chan says in a news release. “The EPIC program allows us to provide consistent funding to organizations who are developing robust programming, resources, and support for innovative energy startups and entrepreneurs.”

CHILI, the only participant in Texas, now moves on to the second phase of the competition, where they will design a project continuation plan and programming for the next seven months to be submitted in September.

where they’ll implement their programming and design a project continuation plan over the next 7 months. In September they will submit their plans with the hope of being selected to negotiate a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT, worth up to $1 million each.

Phase 2 also includes two national pitch competitions with a total of $165,000 in cash prizes up for grabs for startups. The first EPIC pitch event for 2024 will be in June at the 2024 Small Business Forum & Expo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Last fall, the DOE selected the Gulf Coast's project, HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, as one of the seven regions to receive a part of the $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The hub was announced to receive up to $1.2 billion — the most any hub will get.


The DOE's OTT selections are nationwide. Photo via energy.gov

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