Houston's HyVelocity Hub has joined in on a joint letter with the other six H2Hubs asking for revised guidelines. Photo via Getty Images

The group of regional hubs tapped by the United States government to receive funding to develop clean hydrogen projects have banded together to request a revision of the U.S. Department of Treasury's proposed hydrogen production tax credit (45V) guidance.

Houston's HyVelocity Hub, which was selected to receive up to $1.2 billion from the government's initiative, has joined in on a joint letter with the other six H2Hubs asking for revised requirements. HyVelocity also submitted its own letter to the Treasury.

HyVelocity's letter asks for flexibility and certainty the implementation of the “three pillars” for electricity, which include temporality, incrementality, and deliverability.

"It is imperative that to enable the desired environmental, economic, and equity goals of the IRA, private investment in hydrogen production must advance at scale and at an accelerated pace. Hydrogen production project investments require stable market projections and assurance of regulatory stability to ensure the economics of the long-term projects. To support this investment environment, we recommend that projects be granted a 'grandfathered exemption' such that for the project's life, they can use the regulations in place at the time when construction begins," reads the letter from HyVelocity.

HyVelocity, representing the Gulf Coast region, plans to create up to 35,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs across nine proposed core projects with a collective investment of more than $10 billion in private capital to bring low-carbon hydrogen to the market.

The Houston-area initiative is backed by industry partners AES Corporation, Air Liquide, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Power Americas, Ørsted, and Sempra Infrastructure and The spearheaded by GTI Energy and other organizing participants, including the University of Texas at Austin, The Center for Houston’s Future, Houston Advanced Research Center, and around 90 other supporting partners from academia, industry, government, and beyond.

The project’s first phase is targeted to produce more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum of low-carbon ammonia by the end of 2027. Photo via Houston.org

4 energy companies join forces on low-carbon ammonia project on the Houston Ship Channel

team work

Four companies from all around the world have agreed to work on a large-scale, low-carbon ammonia production and export project on the Houston Ship Channel.

Tokyo-based INPEX Corporation, Paris-based Air Liquide Group, Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries Inc., and Houston-based Vopak Moda Houston LLC have agreed to collaborate on the project, which is expected to deliver its first phase by the end of 2027 with the production of more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of low-carbon ammonia.

“As we approach the achievement of our net zero target by 2050, the unveiling of our low carbon ammonia project in Texas, USA, stands as a momentous testament to INPEX's strong commitment to environmental leadership," INPEX President and CEO Takayuki Ueda says in a news release. "This innovative endeavor marks a significant milestone to create a clean fuel supply chain for a sustainable future.

"By harnessing the power of cutting-edge technologies and collaborative partnerships with Air Liquide, LSB and Vopak Moda, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon world, while solidifying our position as a pioneer in energy transformation and a responsible global energy player,” he continues.

Earlier this year, the project completed a feasibility study. Each of the companies will collaborate in various capacities, according to the release, including: Air Liquide and INPEX partnering on low-carbon hydrogen production with their respective technologies; LSB and INPEX collaborating on low-carbon ammonia production, with LSB selecting the ammonia loop technology provider, the pre-FEED, and the engineering, procurement and construction of the facility and LSB overseeing day-to-day operations; INPEX and LSB would sell the low-carbon ammonia and finalize off-take agreements; and Vopak Moda, which currently operates ammonia storage and handling infrastructure, will maintain its ownership of the existing infrastructure and future storage built.

“This project is well aligned with our strategy to become a leader in the global energy transition through the production of low-carbon ammonia,” Mark Behrman, LSB Industries president and CEO, says in the statement. “As a long-standing, highly experienced nitrogen producer and developer of nitrogen production facilities, we are uniquely positioned to play a key role in a critical element of this project by overseeing the design, construction and operation of the ammonia loop."

KBR and Air Liquide are combining their efforts to advance the energy transition. Photo via airliquide.com

2 Houston energy companies team up for low-carbon ammonia initiative

howdy, partner

Two companies with large presences in Houston have partnered to provide low-carbon ammonia to customers.

Houston-based KBR (NYSE: KBR), an engineering services company, and Air Liquide, a have announced a large-scale low-carbon ammonia partnership that will offer KBR customers a more sustainable option through Autothermal Reforming (ATR) technology.

As far as the collaborative partnership goes, KBR brings its ammonia synthesis technology to the table while Air Liquide has significant experience with ATR for large scale syngas production applications.

"Our differentiated ammonia synthesis technology has been the preferred choice for decades, with complete solutions for blue and green ammonia and large-scale capacity ...," says Doug Kelly, KBR president of technology, in a news release. "The addition of ATR technology further complements our clean ammonia offerings as we work to advance technology solutions to decarbonize the world."

Michael J. Graff, executive vice president of Air Liquide Group, which has its United States headquarters in Houston, says in the release that the combined efforts will help move the sector on its its low-carbon transition. When paired with carbon capture, the new partnered solution will result in preventing 99 percent of carbon emissions, per the release.

"This further illustrates Air Liquide's commitment to sustainable development, supporting customers in industry and mobility to decarbonize their products and operations," he says. "This is a core element of our ADVANCE strategic plan, which inseparably links financial and extra financial performance."

According to the company, KBR holds about half of the market share of licensed capacity within ammonia technology, and has "has licensed, engineered, or constructed over 250 grassroot ammonia plants worldwide" since 1943.

In the future, Air Liquide and KBR have plans to contribute development of low-carbon hydrogen as a key enabler of the energy transition.

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Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”