Under this partnership, Home Depot customers will be able to buy Sunnova’s Adaptive Home products, which includes solar power, battery storage, and smart energy management. Photo via Sunnova

Houston-based clean energy company Sunnova Energy International has been tapped as the exclusive provider of solar power and battery storage services for the more than 2,000 Home Depot stores in the U.S.

Under this partnership, Home Depot customers will be able to buy Sunnova’s Adaptive Home products. The Adaptive Home line combines solar power, battery storage, and smart energy management.

Sunnova didn’t assign a value to the Home Depot deal.

“Our goal is to make clean, affordable, and reliable energy services more accessible to everyone,” Michael Grasso, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Sunnova, says in a news release. “As utility rates continue to skyrocket across the country, weather patterns worsen, and remote work becomes more prevalent, the need for resilient, affordable, and dependable power at the home is non-negotiable.”

In 2021, Sunnova rolled out its SunSafe solar and battery storage service at 100 Home Depot stores in hurricane-prone states like Florida, Maryland, and Virginia. A year later, Sunnova made the service available to all Home Depot stores in Puerto Rico.

In 2023, Sunnova expanded the SunSafe offering to 15 Home Depot markets, encompassing about 400 stores.

Publicly traded Sunnova, founded in 2012, had 419,200 customers at the end of last year.

The company recorded revenue of $720.7 million in 2023, up from $557.7 million the previous year. Its net loss in 2023 totaled $502.4 million, up from $130.3 million in 2022.

ERCOT will close 2023 with nearly 3.3 gigawatts of battery storage capacity and almost 10.7 gigawatts by the end of 2024. That would represent a one-year jump of 225 percent. Photo via Getty Images

Texas sees major increase in battery storage capacity, according to a new report

by the numbers

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas — which runs the power grid serving about 90 percent of the state — is energizing the rise of U.S. battery storage capacity.

A new report from data provider S&P Global Commodity Insights forecasts that ERCOT will close 2023 with nearly 3.3 gigawatts of battery storage capacity and almost 10.7 gigawatts by the end of 2024. That would represent a one-year jump of 225 percent.

Austin-based ERCOT is expected to add nearly 400 megawatts of battery storage capacity during the third quarter after adding no capacity in the second quarter, according to S&P Global.

In terms of bulking up battery storage capacity, ERCOT had a momentous first quarter. The nonprofit organization added 498.6 megawatts of battery storage capacity during the first three months of 2023, accounting for 70.2 percent of all new capacity in the U.S., says S&P Global.

One gigawatt, which equals one billion watts, can provide enough power for about 750,000 homes.

ERCOT’s battery storage capacity has contributed to a lack of power outages during this year’s scorching summer heat in Texas. However, it’s worth noting that this summer’s wave of triple-digit temperatures is straining the ERCOT grid, prompting a series of pleas for Texans to conserve energy.

ERCOT set a new September peak demand record of 78,459 megawatts September 4, surpassing the previous September peak of 72,370 megawatts set on September 1, 2021. The current all-time peak demand, 85,435 megawatts, was set August 10.

As of September 5, ERCOT has set 10 records this year for peak demand. In 2022, ERCOT set 11 peak demand records, surpassing 80 gigawatts for the first time.

“Based on expected weather conditions, ERCOT anticipates there will be sufficient generation to meet customer demand this summer,” ERCOT said in its forecast for summertime power demand.

ERCOT’s combined solar and wind share of overall power generation is projected to reach 43 percent by 2035, according to S&P Global.

“Firing on all green energy cylinders, despite a long-surpassed renewable portfolio standard,” says S&P Global, “Texas leads the U.S. in operating and planned wind energy as well as solar and battery storage capacity in development … .”

Houston is playing a pivotal role in Texas’ adoption of battery storage of wind and solar power, with companies like Broad Reach Power and Key Capture Energy among the leaders.

“Known for its strong ties with oil and gas, Texas and Houston in particular are changing the narrative on their relationships with energy, with new innovations and initiatives being created to combat the effects of climate change and to create better, more efficient energy systems for years to come,” says the Greater Houston Partnership.

More than three-fourths of the 20.8 gigawatts of utility-scale battery storage capacity on track to be installed from 2022 to 2025 will be in Texas (7.9 gigawatts) and California (7.6 gigawatts), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Houston-based Zeta Energy has fresh funding from the government. Image via Zeta Energy

Houston-based battery innovators receive $4M in federal funding

money moves

Houston-based Zeta Energy announced this week that it was selected to receive $4 million in federal funding for the development of efficient electric vehicle batteries.

The funds come from the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E Electric Vehicles for American Low-Carbon Living, or EVs4ALL, program, which aims to increase the number of EVs on the roads by boosting the country’s supply chain of affordable, convenient, reliable and safe batteries.

Zeta Energy is one of 12 groups in the U.S. to receive funding from the program, which awarded $42 million in total.

“Electric vehicle sales in America have tripled since the start of this Administration and by addressing battery efficiency, resiliency and affordability, the projects announced today will make EVs attractive to even more drivers,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement released in January. “This is a win-win for our efforts to fight climate change and power America’s clean transportation future with technologies produced by researchers and scientists right here at home.”

Other teams to receive funding include 24M Technologies, national laboratories and universities like The Ohio State University, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, among others. Zeta is the only Texas-based company to receive funds. It received one of the largest grants among the group.

"We are thrilled to have been selected for funding by the ARPA-E EVs4ALL program," Zeta Energy CEO Tom Pilette said in a statement. "We have been working hard to make this technology a reality, and we are really grateful to receive this recognition of the promise of our technology and the progress we have made on it."

Zeta Energy is known for its lithium sulfur batteries that traditionally have not been long lasting. While sulfur is an economical and abundant material, it traditionally would dissolve after a few uses in lithium sulfur batteries.

However, Zeta uses its proprietary sulfur-based cathodes and lithium metal anodes that have shown to have higher capacity and density and better safety profiles, according to the company's website.

According to ARPAE, the company will create a new anode that will "be highly accessible and rechargeable" with the funding.

Zeta Energy closed a $23 million series A round led by New York VC firm Moore Strategic Ventures about a year ago. In addition to applications for electric vehicles, the company's technology is also expected to have uses in grid energy storage.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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Annual offshore conference in Houston names honorees for leadership, sustainable efforts

otc 2024

The 2024 Offshore Technology Conference has revealed the three Distinguished Achievement Award recipients that will be recognized at the conference next month.

OTC, a conference that has served the offshore energy community for over 50 years, will bring 276,000 square feet of exhibit space to NRG Park and welcome over 31,000 attendees for more than 350 sessions. The awards reception will kick off the week on May 5.

One of the awards recipients named is Kerry J. Campbell, who will accept the OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Individuals. Campbell was selected based on his "work in developing modern deepwater site characterization practice and for teaching and mentoring generations of site characterization professionals," reads the news release.

He's previously co-chaired sessions at OTC and served on a subcommittee for the organization, in addition to co-writing seventeen OTC papers. He retired from Fugro in 2020 after helping integrate 3D marine seismic data for engineering applications.

Petrobras will accept the OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Companies, Organizations, and Institutions at the May banquet. The company was selected "for the deployment of a wide set of new technologies for the successful revitalization of the Marlim Field and the entire deepwater Campos Basin, unlocking new paths for mature deepwater asset redevelopment, with significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," per the release.

For about 50 years, the Campos Basin has been subjected to exploration and is known for various shallow water discoveries. In 1992, Petrobras was recognized for its deepwater development in Marlim, and over 30 years later, the company will be praised for its work redeveloping mature fields and the pioneering subsea, drilling, reservoir and decommissioning technologies.

The third and final award recipient is EnerGeo Alliance, which will receive the OTC Special Citation award for promoting efficiency and environmental sustainability within offshore seismic data collection.

"For more than 50 years, EnerGeo Alliance has been a stalwart in the quest for accessible, affordable energy around the globe, while also being a standard-bearer for safety and the environment," reads the release. "EneGeo Alliance has set the standard in the energy geoscience industry by establishing best practices and recommended guidance in key energy areas, including its Environmental Impact Assessment Handbook and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guidance, for its members."

Rice physicist earns $15.5M grant from DOE for ground-breaking research

future of physics

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

Tesla starts off 2024 with tumble in sales

in a decline

Tesla sales fell sharply last quarter as competition increased worldwide, electric vehicle sales growth slowed, and price cuts failed to lure more buyers.

The Texas company said Tuesday that it delivered 386,810 vehicles worldwide from January through March, almost 9% below the 423,000 it sold in the same quarter of last year. It was the first year-over-year quarterly sales decline in nearly four years.

Sales also fell short of even the most bearish Wall Street expectations. Auto industry analysts polled by FactSet were looking for 457,000 vehicle deliveries from Tesla Inc. That's a shortfall of more than 15%.

The company blamed the decline in part on phasing in an updated version of the Model 3 sedan at its Fremont, California, factory, plant shutdowns due to shipping diversions in the Red Sea, and an arson attack that knocked out power to its German factory.

But TD Cowen Analyst Jeffrey Osborne wrote in a note to investors that weaker March sales indicate that incentives, including discounts and a free trial of “Full Self Driving” software, “did not work as demand deteriorated.”

Despite the sales decline, Tesla was able to retake its global EV sales crown from China's BYD, which sold just over 300,000 electric vehicles during the quarter, Osborne wrote.

In its letter to investors in January, Tesla predicted “notably lower” sales growth this year. The letter said Tesla is between two big growth waves, one from global expansion of the Models 3 and Y, and a second coming from the Model 2, a new, smaller and less expensive vehicle with an unknown release date.

“This was an unmitigated disaster 1Q that is hard to explain away,” wrote Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush who has been very bullish on Tesla's stock. The drop in sales was far worse than expected, he wrote in a note to investors.

The quarter is a “seminal moment” in the Tesla growth story, Ives wrote, adding that CEO Elon Musk will have to turn the company around. “Otherwise, some darker days could clearly be ahead that could disrupt the long-term Tesla narrative.”

Ives maintained his Outperform rating on Tesla's shares and cut his one-year price target from $315 to $300. Ives estimated that China sales slid 3% to 4% during the period.

Shares of Tesla tumbled 4.9% to close Tuesday at $166.63, continuing an extended decline. Investors have shaved 33% off the value of the company so far this year, dumping shares after growing leery of the tremendous growth story that Tesla has been telling.

“Street criticism is warranted as growth has been sluggish and (profit) margins showing compression, with China a horror show and competition increasing from all angles,” Ives wrote.

Tesla dramatically lowered U.S. prices by up to $20,000 for some models last year. In March it temporarily knocked $1,000 off the Model Y, its top-selling vehicle. Those price cuts narrowed the company’s profit margins and spooked investors.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected the average selling price for Model Y to be $41,000 last quarter, $5,000 less than a year ago and $15,000 lower than the peak of $56,000 in June of 2022.

Tesla's sales numbers also pulled down shares of its U.S. EV competitors. Shares of Rivian fell 5.2%, while Lucid stock dropped 3.5% on Tuesday.

Deliveries of the Models 3 and Y, fell 10.3% year over year to 369,783. Sales of the company's other models, the aging X and S and the new Cybertruck, rose almost 60% to 17,027. Tesla produced 10.7% more vehicles than it sold during the first quarter.

Softer-than-expected first-quarter sales are reducing analyst expectations for Tesla's quarterly earnings ahead of their scheduled release on April 23.

Tesla’s sales come against the backdrop of a slowing market for electric vehicles in the U.S. EV sales grew 47% last year to a record 1.19 million as EV market share rose to 7.6%. But sales growth slowed toward the end of the year. In December, they rose 34%.

Updated EV sales numbers will come later Tuesday when most automakers report U.S. sales.

Other automakers also have had to cut electric vehicle production and reduce prices to move EVs off dealership lots. Ford, for instance, cut production of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup, and lopped up to $8,100 off the price of the Mustang Mach E electric SUV in order to sell 2023 models.