taking notes

Houston solar co. names new exec, Houston energy transition events not to miss, and what to know this week

Making sense of Elon Musk's payout — and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition.


Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • Hydrogen Tech Expo is taking place June 26 to June 27 at NRG Center. Register now.
  • 2024 Young Leaders Institute: Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions is taking place July 15 to July 19 at Asia Society of Texas. Register now.
  • CCS/Decarbonization Project Development, Finance and Investment, taking place July 23 to 25, is the deepest dive into the economic and regulatory factors driving the success of the CCS/CCUS project development landscape. Register now.
  • The 5th Texas Energy Forum 2024, organized by U.S. Energy Stream, will take place on August 21 and 22 at the Petroleum Club of Houston. Register now.

Elon Musk's big payout

Even though the median U.S. CEO pay package last year was nearly 200 times more than a worker in the middle of their company pay scales, Texas-based Elon Musk's record-setting Tesla compensation dwarfs them by comparison.

Tesla shareholders last week voted overwhelmingly in favor of restoring Musk's 10-year pay plan, valued by the company in April at $44.9 billion. It was worth more early in the year, but Tesla's stock value has fallen about 25% since then.

No matter the outcome, Musk's package — the largest award to a CEO of a U.S. public company — is far above what's been granted to other chief executives. Here's how the package compares.

Houston solar energy company names new C-level leadership

Houston’s Sunnova Energy has named a new member to its C suite.

Eric Williams has been appointed executive vice president and CFO of Sunnova, an industry-leading adaptive energy services company. He brings 20 years of experience with 13 years in the energy industry to the company.

Williams replaces Robert Lane. Lane served as Sunnova's executive vice president and CFO from May 2019 to June 2024.

“I was drawn to Sunnova by its commitment to power energy independence and make clean energy more accessible, reliable, and affordable for homeowners and businesses,” Williams says in a news release. “Building on its unique accomplishments and strong history as an industry leader, I am confident in Sunnova’s ability to create value for all stakeholders and realize its vision for a clean energy future. Read more.

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A View From HETI

Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy of Voyager

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now."

And, predictably, some of those waves are caused by new momentum within the energy transition.

"The energy transition has thrown up a lot of questions for everyone in the maritime industry," Costello says. "The regulations create a lot of questions around cost primarily. ... And that has created a huge number of opportunities for technology."

Fuel as a primary cost for the maritime industry. These cargo ships are traversing the world 24/7 and burning fuel at all times. Costello says there's an increased focus on the fuel process — "all with a goal of essentially reducing carbon intensity usage."

One of the ways to move the needle on reducing the carbon footprint of these ships is optimizing the time spent in port, and specifically the delays associated. Demurrage are charges associated with delays in loading and unloading cargo within maritime shipping, and Costello estimates that the total paid globally in demurrage fees is around $10 billion to $20 billion a year.

"These fees can be huge," Costello says. "What technology has really enabled with this problem of demurrage is helping companies drill down to the true root cause of what something is happening."

All this progress is thanks to the enhancement — and wider range of acceptance — of data analysis and artificial intelligence.

Costello, who says Voyager has been improving its profitability every quarter for the last year, has grown the business to around 40 employees in its headquarters of Houston and three remote offices in Brazil, London, and Singapore. The company's last round of funding was a series A in 2021. Costello says the next round, if needed, would be next year.

In the meantime, Voyager is laser focused on providing optimized, cost-saving, and sustainable solutions for its customers — around half of which are headquartered or have a significant presence in Houston. For Costello, that's all about putting the control back into the hands of his customers.

"If we think back to the real problems the industry faces, a lot of them are controlled by different groups and parties. The fact that a ship cannot get in and out of a port quickly is not necessarily a function of one party's issue — it's a multitude of issues, and there's no one factor," Costello says on the show. "To really make the whole process efficient end-to-end you need to provide the customer to access and options for different means of getting cargo from A to B — and you need to have a sense of control in that process."

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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