go coogs

University plugs into Houston renewables co. as official athletics energy provider

The University of Houston's football season is starting off in a new conference — and with a new renewable energy partner. Photo via uh.edu

This college football season brings a lot of newness for the University of Houston: A new conference, following the athletic program's July transition to the Big 12. And a new official energy provider that is 100 percent renewable.

UH Athletics announced last week that Houston-based Rhythm Energy has signed on to be the official energy company of the program. The company will have a presence on signage at all sports venues, a strong digital presence across UH Athletics platforms; and Cougars’ basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, and track and field home events.

Rhythm Energy will also roll out The Go Coogs 12 Plan in time for football season, which will be an exclusive electricity plan to help UH faculty, alumni, students and fans go green.

“As a proud UH alumni, I am so pleased Rhythm Energy has become the Official Energy Company for my alma mater,” PJ Popovic, CEO of Rhythm Energy, said in a statement. “UH is hands down one of the top educational and athletic institutions in the nation, and I’m forever grateful for the knowledge I gained there, which allowed me to start my own renewable energy company. With UH joining the Big 12 Conference, we’re inspired by their success, achievements, and growth—something we strive for at Rhythm Energy every day.”

UH Athletics oversees 17 sport programs — seven on the men's side, including baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, and track and field, and 10 on the women's side, including basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

Popovic founded Rhythm Energy in 2021. The company offers 100 percent renewable energy plans for Texas residents, using solar power, wind power and other renewable power sources.

The founder spoke with EnergyCapital last month about where he thinks renewables fit into Texas’ energy consumption and grid reliability issues and the shifting public opinion towards renewables.

"There is still a lot (speech) that is not necessarily painting renewables correctly," he tells EnergyCapital.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

Calling all students and faculty interested in energy tech. Photo via Getty Images

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship will host the regional qualifier for a Department of Energy-backed student competition, and the application deadline to participate is coming up.

The DOE's EnergyTech University Prize, or EnergyTech UP, a virtual regional qualifier hosted by the Rice Alliance will take place in February, and applications for students and faculty are now open. A $400,000 collegiate competition, the program challenges student teams to develop a business plan based off of National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technology.

"Understanding that energy is often inherently local, competitor teams first present at their designated regional events in February, where regional finalists are identified," reads an email from Rice. "Finalists are provided exclusive mentorship to help students refine their ideas throughout February and March."

If selected as a finalist, the student teams will pitch at Zpryme’s 2024 Energy Thought Summit in Austin, Texas on April 15, 2024.

The application deadline is February first for students. To qualify, the student teams must:

  • Be comprised of university or college students
  • Have at least two students on the team (can be undergraduate students, graduate students, or a mix)
  • Create a business plan based on a national lab technology or technology from their university

This year there's a new track for faculty that has a prize of $100,000 on the line. Faculty have until January 5 to apply.

The DOE is hosting an informative webinar on December 5 for those interested in learning more.

The 2023 competition had one winning Houston-based team from Prairie View A&M University and University of Houston. The team, entitled "Revolutionizing Hydrogen with Ceramic Membranes" won the National Lab Technology IP Licensing Bonus Prize.

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