top stories

Startup teams up with Microsoft, ex-Chevron exec joins board, and more trending Houston sustainability news

Here are the top stories for the week within Houston energy transition news. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: From a new Houston energy transition exec to strategic partnerships and acquisitions, these are the top headlines that resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter this week.

Houston energy tech company taps Microsoft tools to accelerate AI adoption for decarbonization

The collaboration will help Amperon's energy sector clients to "successfully navigate the evolving grid to improve reliability, optimize asset economics, and accelerate decarbonization." Photo via amperon.co

Amperon has announced that it is replatforming its AI-powered energy analytics technology onto Microsoft Azure.

The collaboration will help Amperon's energy sector clients to "successfully navigate the evolving grid to improve reliability, optimize asset economics, and accelerate decarbonization," according to the company.

"This collaboration with Microsoft marks a significant step forward in our mission to modernize energy data and AI infrastructure. By replatforming our technology onto Microsoft Azure and enabling our customers to use Microsoft's analytics stack with our data, we aim to empower users to make informed decisions as they navigate the energy transition," Abe Stanway, CTO of Amperon, says in the news release.Continue reading.

Environmental services firm names Houston energy leader to board

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services, which provides environmental services and carbon management, named energy leader and former Chevron executive Barbara J. Burger to its board of managers. Photo courtesy

Barbara Burger has joined the board of one of the largest energy waste sequestration companies.

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services, which provides environmental services and carbon management, named energy leader and former Chevron executive Barbara J. Burger to its board of managers, effective February 17.

“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Barbara Burger to the Milestone Board and look forward to her invaluable insights and contributions,” Milestone President and CEO Gabriel Rio says in a news release. “Barbara’s impressive career in the energy industry coupled with her passion for education, sustainability, and resolving the challenges facing the energy transition will undoubtedly prove beneficial for Milestone, our customers, and our other stakeholders.”Continue reading.

Devon Energy leads Houston geothermal startup's $244M funding round

Fervo Energy scored a $244 million round of funding thanks to existing and new investors. Photo via Fervo Energy

An Oklahoma-based shale oil and gas leader has backed Fervo Energy's latest round of funding, supporting the startup's geothermal technology yet again.

Fervo announced its latest round of funding this week to the tune of $244 million. The round was led by Devon Energy, a company that's previously backed the startup.

“Demand for around-the-clock clean energy has never been higher, and next-generation geothermal is uniquely positioned to meet this demand,” Tim Latimer, Fervo CEO and co-founder, says in a news release. “Our technology is fully derisked, our pricing is already competitive, and our resource pipeline is vast. This investment enables Fervo to continue to position geothermal at the heart of 24/7 carbon-free energy production.” Continue reading.

Greentown Labs names latest cohort of BIPOC-led climatetech startups

The seven selected startups will have year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, a non-dilutive $25,000 grant, and access to mentors, corporates, and more from both Greentown and BGS's networks. Photo via browningthegreenspace.org

Two organizations have named the seven startup participants for their accelerator that works to advance BIPOC-led startups in the climatetech space.

Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space named the newest accelerator for the Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program, or ACCEL. The seven selected startups will have year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, a non-dilutive $25,000 grant, and access to mentors, corporates, and more from both Greentown and BGS's networks.

"Building on the momentum and success of our inaugural year, Greentown Labs is proud to welcome this incredible cohort of BIPOC-led startups to Year 2 of ACCEL," Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in a news release. "These founders and their teams are developing a dynamic array of much-needed climatetech solutions, and we're privileged to support them on their startup journeys as they advance their technologies and grow their teams."Continue reading.

Houston private equity professional tapped to lead growth development at firm focused on decarbonization

Climate Investment announced Patrick Yip will lead the firm's growth investment strategy as managing director, head of growth. Photo via LinkedIn

A London-based energy transition investment firm has named a new Houston-based leader.

Climate Investment announced Patrick Yip will lead the firm's growth investment strategy as managing director, head of growth. In his new role, he will oversee the development of CI’s growth-stage portfolio, including deal sourcing, operational function of strategy, and working with the team that manages the firm's early-stage Catalyst program. He reports to the CEO, Pratima Rangarajan.

“We are excited to welcome Patrick to Climate Investment,” Rangarajan says in a news release. “The decarbonization investment opportunity continues to grow rapidly, and Patrick’s extensive experience will help us capitalize on that. He will also provide leadership and develop the market partnerships that will drive our growth investment strategy forward, playing a key role in supporting portfolio market adoption and accelerating the next stage of development for CI.”Continue reading.

Trending News

A View From HETI

First responders need to know exactly which hazardous materials are on a train so they can look it up in the government's official guidebook and make sure they have the right protective gear and firefighting tools. Photo by Stefan Gabriel Naghi/Pexels

A new federal rule finalized Monday aims to ensure first responders can find out what hazardous chemicals are on a train almost immediately after a derailment so they can respond appropriately. Texas, a major hub for chemical development, will be affected by the ruling.

Too often in past disasters like last year's fiery Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, firefighters risked their lives trying to extinguish a blaze without knowing the right way to respond. The local fire chief in charge of the response said it took him 45 minutes to learn exactly what was in the 11 burning tank cars on the train, but some firefighters from neighboring departments that came to help said they didn't know what they were dealing with until two hours after the February 3, 2023, crash.

First responders need to know exactly which hazardous materials are on a train so they can look it up in the government's official guidebook and make sure they have the right protective gear and firefighting tools, said Tristan Brown, deputy administrator of the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration agency that proposed the rule.

Knowing what chemical is involved and how much of it is aboard also affects how big of an evacuation zone might be required to protect the public.

“There are so many different types of hazardous materials being transported across the country on any given day — one in 10 goods that move across the United States — and each one, poses unique risks and hazards, certainly to the folks who are running towards a fire,” Brown said. “But certainly as well for anybody who may be living or working in that vicinity.”

The rule was published just one day ahead of the National Transportation Safety Board's final hearing on the East Palestine derailment, where they will discuss exactly what caused that crash and recommend steps to prevent similar disasters.

Train crews have long carried lists of their cargo in the cabs of their locomotives, but in the middle of the chaos after a derailment those engineers and conductors, who might have moved their locomotives miles down the track, can't always be found right away.

That's part of why the largest freight railroads developed an app called AskRail roughly a decade ago that enables firefighters to quickly look up the details of what each train carries. But not every firefighter had the app, and cell phones don't always have a signal strong enough to work in a disaster.

Regulators want the railroads to continue expanding access to that app, including to 911 centers, so information reaches first responders sooner. The railroads have been expanding access over the past year. The Association of American Railroads trade group estimates some 2.3 million first responders now have access to that information as a result of the effort to expand into dispatch centers.

The six biggest railroads also make train cargo information immediately available through the chemical industry's hazardous materials hotlines in the U.S. and Canada known as the CHEMTREC and CANUTEC, emergency call centers.

Norfolk Southern said that in addition to AskRail it is working with a different program called RapidSOS that will allow the railroad to directly send information about its trains to first responders after a derailment — instead of forcing them to look up the details in AskRail. The railroad said its work fits well with the new rule.

But the new federal rule also applies to the hundreds of smaller railroads that aren't involved in AskRail. Even railroads that only have one or two employees now must have a plan to get the crucial details of their cargo to the local fire department quickly, even if its as simple as having the fire chief's cell phone number at the ready. Railroads also must test their plan at least once a year.

“In a hazmat incident, firefighters and first responders arriving on scene need to know what kind of hazardous materials are present so they can protect themselves and their communities,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

It's not clear how this rule might have changed the outcome in East Palestine, but more information could have helped responding firefighters.

The derailment prompted a nationwide reckoning over railroad safety and prompted Congress to propose changes and regulators like Buttigieg to urge railroads to do more to prevent derailments.

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued various advisories about different aspects of railroad operations, but the reforms in Congress have stalled because Republicans wanted to wait for the final NTSB report and regulators have had only limited success making changes.

Trending News