M&A move

Houston-headquartered Chevron acquires majority stake in ongoing hydrogen project

Chevron New Energies now owns a majority share of the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Delta, Utah. Photo via Getty Images

The Houston-based clean energy subsidiary of Chevron is making a big splash in the clean hydrogen sector. It just acquired a majority stake in what’s being promoted as the world’s largest facility for clean hydrogen storage.

Chevron New Energies bought Salt Lake City-based Magnum Development from Houston-based private equity firm Haddington Ventures. As a result, the New Energies unit now owns a majority share of the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project in Delta, Utah. A joint venture of Magnum Development and Mitsubishi Power Americas is developing ACES. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

“Having been the primary financial sponsor behind this key energy hub since 2008, we believe this transaction will accelerate lower-carbon-intensity solutions that reduce emissions in the western United States,” says John Strom, managing director of Haddington Ventures.

ACES plans to use electrolysis to convert renewable energy into hydrogen and store the energy in salt caverns. The first phase, designed to convert and store up to 100 metric tons of hydrogen per day, is under construction and expected to begin commercial-scale operations in mid-2025.

“Using salt caverns for seasonal energy storage is a significant opportunity to empower hydrogen as an energy carrier and greatly expand energy storage resources throughout the U.S.,” says ACES contractor WSP, an engineering, environmental and professional services consulting firm.

The hydrogen facility will support Intermountain Power Plant, a Utah power plant operated by the municipal utility in Los Angeles. The stored hydrogen is expected to fuel a hybrid 840-megawatt combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant that’ll replace an 1,800-megawatt, coal-fired power plant.

A CCGT plant harnesses exhaust heat from natural gas turbines to generate steam through a heat recovery steam generator, according to IPIECA, an oil and gas association that focuses on environmental and social issues. The steam is then fed to a steam turbine to supply additional power.

Michael Ducker, senior vice president of hydrogen infrastructure at Mitsubishi Power, says the ACES project “will serve as a blueprint for future hydrogen opportunities.”

“We seek to leverage the unique strengths of each partner to develop a large-scale, hydrogen platform that provides affordable, reliable, ever-cleaner energy and helps our customers achieve their lower carbon goals,” says Austin Knight, vice president of hydrogen at Chevron New Energies.

Chevron New Energies is marketing its low-carbon hydrogen offering to sectors like transportation, power, and industrial. These sectors face especially big hurdles in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In June 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a $504.4 million loan guarantee to finance ACES. The facility will combine 220 megawatts of alkaline electrolysis with two 4.5 million-barrel salt caverns for storage of clean hydrogen.

ACES expects to create up to 400 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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