Oxy's cleantech arm scores Amazon DAC investment

carbon capture client

Amazon has agreed to buy 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal credits from 1PointFive’s first DAC plant. Photo via 1pointfive.com

Houston-based cleantech company 1PointFive is among the recipients of e-commerce giant Amazon’s first investments in carbon-fighting direct air capture (DAC).

Amazon has agreed to buy 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal credits from Stratos, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant, over a 10-year span. That commitment is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored naturally across more than 290,000 acres of U.S. forecasts, says Amazon.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

1PointFive is a carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) subsidiary of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum.

The carbon captured for Amazon will be stored deep underground in saline aquifers — large geological rock formations that are saturated in saltwater.

As Amazon explains, DAC technology filters CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in underground geological formations. Aside from being stored, removed carbon can be used to make building materials like bricks, cement, and concrete.

1PointFive is constructing its first DAC plant in Ector County, which is anchored by Odessa. The facility is expected to be the world’s largest DAC plant, capturing up to 500,000 tons of CO2 per year. Amazon Web Services (AWS) will provide real-time performance data for the plant.

“Amazon’s purchase and long-term contract represent a significant commitment to direct air capture as a vital carbon removal solution,” Michael Avery, president and general manager of 1PointFive, says in a news release. “We are excited to collaborate with Amazon to help them achieve their sustainability goals.”

1PointFive broke ground on the Stratos plant in April. Its project partners include British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering and Australia-based Worley. The plant is expected to be fully operational by mid-2025.

1PointFive envisions establishing more than 100 DAC facilities around the world by 2035.

The Amazon deal isn’t the only major deal for 1Point5 this summer.

In August, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $600 million grant for a 1PointFive-operated DAC hub that will be built in South Texas. The more than 100,000-acre hub, comprising 30 individual DAC projects, eventually may remove and store up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year.

Also in August, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) said it reached an agreement with 1PointFive to buy 10,000 metric tons of carbon removal credits per year over a three-year period starting in 2025. The credits will be generated by 1PointFive’s Stratos plant.

In the U.S., DAC has gotten a huge boost from the federal government. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in 2022, includes tax credits for capturing and storing carbon via DAC.

The International Energy Agency says 27 DAC plants have been commissioned around the world, with at least 130 more in the development stage. One forecast predicts the value of the global market for DAC systems will climb past $2.3 billion by 2030.

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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.”