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A new energy transition-focused lab in Houston, Baker Hughes makes moves, and more trending news

More details about Microsoft's Energy Transition Center for Excellence in Houston — and more trending news from this week. Photo courtesy of Microsoft

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 more details on Microsoft's Houston-based Energy Transition Center, Baker Hughes investing in the future energy industry workforce plus partnering for greener airports, and more.

Why Microsoft is investing in Houston as an energy transition leader

The Energy Transition Center for Excellence is housed out of Microsoft Technology Center in Houston. Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Houston is known as the energy capital of the world to many, and major players — from the mayor to corporations — are determined to translate that leadership to the energy transition.

With that in mind, Microsoft has launched its own hub to celebrate the movement — the Energy Transition Center for Excellence, which was announced this spring. The new center, based in the Microsoft Technology Center in Houston, exists to support companies as they evolve their business to be more sustainable and climate-conscious.

“We are proud to have a vast and rich ecosystem of partners that actively co-develop sustainability solutions,” Darryl Willis, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Energy and Resources Industry tells EnergyCapital via email. “Our featured partners demonstrate what is possible across the energy transition value chain from decarbonization to new clean energy solutions.” Continue reading.

Houston oilfield services giant makes deal to transition airports to cleaner energy

Baker Hughes has entered into an agreement with an airport manager and operator to introduce cleaner, lower-carbon solutions to the industry. Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

A Houston-headquartered oilfield services company has announced a partnership with an airport manager and operator to develop lower-carbon solutions for the airport industry.

Baker Hughes (NASDAQ: BKR) announced today that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Virginia-based Avports. The agreement is "to develop, implement and operate onsite microgrid solutions for the airport industry," according to a news release from Baker Hughes, with a goal of reducing emissions and work toward a future with zero-emission infrastructure, including buildings, vehicles, etc.

"Baker Hughes' commitment to emissions reductions has allowed us to develop and successfully deploy low-carbon and hydrogen technologies to advance the energy transition in many industries," Bob Perez, vice president of project development at Baker Hughes, says in the statement. Continue reading.

Report: Houston's energy transition economy sees momentum, including $6.1B in financing in 2022

According to the facts, Houston's energy transition is moving in the right direction. Photo via Getty Images

In Houston, the energy transition movement is in full effect — at least, according to the facts and figures from a recently released report.

The Greater Houston Partnership released its 2023 Houston Facts report, which analyzes the business community across sectors. The report highlights the fact that last year Houston's energy transition brought in $6.1 billion in financing from private market investments, which represents a 61.9 percent increase compared to 2021.

"Over the last five years, Houston has seen constant growth in annual energy transition investments, with a notable surge observed from 2020 onwards," reads the report. Continue reading.

Greentown Labs names inaugural Houston general manager

Timmeko Moore Love has been named Greentown Houston's inaugural general manager. Photo courtesy of Greentown

Greentown Houston has a new leader at its helm.

The climatetech incubator, dual located in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has named Timmeko Moore Love as Houston general manager and senior vice president of Greentown Labs. She'll lead Greentown Houston’s team and business operations, while growing the location's membership.

“We are thrilled to have Timmeko joining our leadership team,” says Jason Hanna, co-founder and interim CEO of Greentown Labs, in a news release. “Her wealth of experience will be instrumental in helping Greentown Houston maximize its impact through operational excellence, while inspiring and accelerating climate entrepreneurship from the energy capital of the world.” Continue reading.

University's energy transition hub scores $100,000 grant from energy corporation

The University of Houston has received a grant from the Baker Hughes Foundation. Photo via UH.edu

A Houston school is cashing in a major gift from a local energy company in order to support the industry's future workforce, research, and more.

The University of Houston Energy Transition Institute received a $100,000 grant from the Baker Hughes Foundation this week, which will work towards the ETI’s goals to support workforce development programs, and environmental justice research.

The program addresses the impact of energy transition solutions in geographical areas most-affected by environmental impacts.

“We are proud to support the University of Houston in its environmental justice research and workforce development programs; at Baker Hughes, we strive to take energy forward, and are committed to a fair and just energy transition,” says Chief Sustainability Officer Allyson Book in a news release. “Novel educational approaches centered around social, climate and environmental justice are crucial to creating a sustainable future for generations to come.” Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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