Ten energy tech companies in Houston are among 111 organizations to receive up to $250,000 in vouchers from the DOE's Office of Technology Transitions, totaling $9.8 million in funding. Photo via Getty Images

Ten Houston-area companies will receive vouchers from the Department of Energy's latest round of funding to support the adoption of clean energy tech.

The companies are among 111 organizations to receive up to $250,000 in vouchers from the DOE's Office of Technology Transitions, totaling $9.8 million in funding, according to a release from the department.

The voucher program is in collaboration with the Offices of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). It is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“It takes a breadth of tools and expertise to bring an innovative technology from research and development to deployment,” Vanessa Z. Chan, DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions, says in a statement. “The Voucher Program will pair 111 clean energy solutions with the support they need from expert voucher providers to help usher new technologies to market.”

In addition to the funding, the program seeks to help small businesses and non-traditional organizations gain access to testing facilities and third-party expertise.

The vouchers come in five different opportunities that focus on different areas of business growth and support:

  • Voucher Opportunity 1 (VO1) - Pre-Demonstration Commercialization Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 2 (VO2) - Performance Validation, Modeling, and Certification Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 3 (VO3) - Clean Energy Demonstration Project Siting/Permitting Support
  • Voucher Opportunity 4 (VO4) - Commercialization Support (for companies with a functional technology prototype)
  • Voucher Opportunity 5 (VO5) - Commercialization Support (for developers, including for-profit firms, that are working to commercialize a prototype that fits a specific technology vertical of interest for DOE)

The 10 Houston-area companies to receive funding, their voucher type and projects include:

  • Terradote Inc. with Big Blue Technologies Inc. (VO2): Full ISO-Compliant Life Cycle Assessment for Clean Energy Technologies
  • Solugen Inc. and Encina with ACTion Battery Technologies L.L.C. and Frontline Waste Holding LLC (Vo2): Barracuda Virtual Reactor Simulation, Validation and Testing
  • Flow Safe with Concept Group LLC and Precision Fluid Control (VO2): Durability Testing of Hydrogen Components, Materials, and Storage Systems
  • Percheron Power LLC (VO4): Fundraising Support
  • Capwell Services Inc. with Banyu Carbon Inc. (VO5): Field Testing Support for Validation of Novel Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Syzygy Plasmonics with Ample Carbon PBC, Terraform Industries, Lydian Labs Inc. and Vycarb Inc. (VO5): Rapid Life Cycle Assessment for Carbon Management or Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Solidec Inc. with GreenFire Energy (VO5): LCA Calculator Tool for Carbon Management or Resource Sustainability Technologies
  • Encino Environmental Services LLC with Wood Cache, Completion Corp and Carbon Lockdown (VO5): Realtime Above/Underground Gas Monitoring Reporting and Verification, Including Cloud Connectivity for Remote Sites
  • Mati Carbon PBC with Ebb Carbon Inc. (VO5): Community Benefits Assessment and Environmental Justice

Other Texas-based companies to receive funding included Molecular Rebar Design LLC and Talus Renewables from Austin, Deep Anchor Solutions from College Station, and ACTion Battery Technologies LLC from Wichita Falls.

Last October, the DOE also awarded the Houston area more than $2 million for projects that improve energy efficiency and infrastructure in the region.

In December, its Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations also selected a Houston power company for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage project cost-sharing agreement.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Q&A: Energy leader on key trends, future of industry, and Houston's role in it all

podcast interview

Last month, Barbara Burger participated in four panels at CERAWeek by S&P Global, and from her insider perspective, she had a few key takeaways from the event, which brought together energy leaders, tech startups, dignitaries, civil servants, and more.

In a recent podcast interview, Burger shared some of her key takeaways from the event — and how these trends are affecting the industry as a whole. Read through an excerpt or stream the full episode below.



Houston Innovators Podcast: I think most of the Houston energy world knows who you are, namely from your role leading Chevron Technology Ventures, which you left a few years ago now. So catch us up on what life looks like for you lately. I know you’re involved with a lot of organizations, so break down how you distribute your time with all of them?

Barbara Burger: The last two years since I left Chevron, I’ve built this portfolio of really interesting roles. Having been an executive for so long — executives are in there, doing stuff for the company — now, I’m an adviser or director at the company level, at the investor level, and at an investment bank, all in energy transition.

I have some challenges I want to work on that are really important to me — and those tend to not be in the for-profit space in education and performing arts.

I have some informal roles that I found I really enjoy — I mentor a wide variety of people. I have time to learn changes amid the energy transition and to attend conferences.

HIP: One of those conferences was CERAWeek last month. Why was that one important to Houston and what were your key takaways?

BB: CERAWeek is known as the "Super Bowl of Energy." It’s been going on for 40 years and really shows you the trends in energy across so many different dimensions. There’s so much in energy and you can get in your own narrow silo of working on something, and CERAWeek is an opportunity to actually see the bigger picture.

One takeaway was that it was a very practical approach. We need an energy system that focuses on climate, the economy, security — a lot of this is just the block and tackling of engineering, policy, economics, and community engagement. I think it was a practical discussion.

The other is that everybody has woken up and realized that our load growth — our demand — is growing, and because of all kinds of things pointing toward electrification. I think that the big one in the room was AI and the power demands for it.

It’s not just about the innovation — it’s really about scaling that innovation and that execution, because that’s when we get impact, when these technologies are actually used in the energy system, and when we create new businesses. It’s going to take investment, capabilities, a real understanding of the marketplace, and, in many cases, it’s going to take a relationship with the government.

Philanthropists were there, but I wish I'd seen more of a presence from private equity. Every year I see more people from outside of what I would call the conventional energy industry, and I think that’s really good.

There’s a lot pools of capital, and they’re different and siloed, and they even use different vocabulary. Making those transitions is really important. That’s where I think the private equity investors play a role here, and venture and private equity — those are two different places, but we’re starting to see collaboration between them.

HIP: The United States Department of Energy had a notable presence at CERAWeek this year. What do you think about the organization's efforts and recent approach to 

BB: In years gone by, DOE funding was much more focused on early stuff — research and development. We all know that if you cannot scale and put technologies into operation, you do not get the impact. So the DOE has developed programs to focus and deployments.

They aren’t trying to replace private capital, but they are trying to be catalytic — which is also a role philanthropists are doing. Go in where the market won’t make the right call to buy down some of the uncertainty. They've been really collaborative and have skin in the game on this one.

HIP: What keeps you up at night when you think of the future of energy?

BB: One of the biggest risks is that we do not act fast enough, and what I mean is that we somehow convince ourselves that we do not need to evolve — and that’s as companies, as a nation, or as a globe.

We’ve made tremendous progress in 10 years. But I believe that in 2050 that we will look back and say, "why didn’t we start earlier and why weren’t we consistent with our actions." The energy transition gets politicized, and we don’t move with conviction.

HIP: What about the role Houston plays in all of this?

BB: I've been bullish on Houston in the energy transition. I moved here 11 years ago, and I had no companies in my portfolio in CTV from Houston, and I wondered why. There are a few things I’m proud of in the ecosystem here, and one of theme is that it’s a very inclusive ecosystem — and I mean that there's all different startups — student founded, operator founded, and incumbent companies at the table, but the worst way to get people to not join a party is to not invite them.

No one company or organization is going to solve this. We have to get along. We have to stop thinking that the mode is to compete with each other because the pie is so big and the opportunity is so big to work together — and by and large I do see that happening.

Oklahoma sues 2 Texas natural gas companies over price spikes during 2021 winter storm

taking action

Two Texas-based natural gas companies are being sued by Oklahoma, which alleges they fraudulently reduced gas supplies to send prices soaring during Winter Storm Uri, making huge profits while thousands shivered across the state.

The lawsuits are Oklahoma's first against natural gas operators over earnings during the 2021 storm. The suits were filed against Dallas-based ET Gathering & Processing, which acquired Enable Midstream Partners in 2021, and Houston-based Symmetry Energy Solutions.

Both lawsuits seek actual and punitive damages, as well as a share of any profits that resulted from wrongdoing. Oklahoma's Republican attorney general, Gentner Drummond, said his office intends to pursue additional litigation against other companies that may have engaged in market manipulation.

“I believe the level of fraud perpetrated on Oklahomans during Winter Storm Uri is both staggering and unconscionable,” Drummond said in a statement. “While many companies conducted themselves above board during that trying time, our analysis indicates that some bad actors reaped billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains."

A Symmetry spokesperson said in a statement that the company "adamantly denies the unfounded allegations in the lawsuit, which it will vigorously defend.” A message seeking comment left with ET was not immediately returned. The lawsuits were filed in Osage County, Oklahoma.

The devastating storm sent temperatures plummeting across the country and left millions of people without power.

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in December against a natural gas marketer operating in that state. In Texas, which was also hit hard by the deadly storm, the electric utility Griddy Energy reached a settlement with state regulators over crushing electric bills its customers received.

Report: Solar tops coal in Texas for energy generation for the first time

by the numbers

For the first time in Texas, according to a recent report, solar energy generation surpassed the output by coal.

The report — from the Institute For Energy Economics and Financial Analysis — sourced the Energy Information Administration’s hourly grid monitor for March 2024. This shift in a predominantly oil and gas dominated history of Texas energy output, was due to solar power’s 3.26 million megawatt-hours to Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, compared to coal’s 2.96 million MWh.

In addition, coal’s market share fell below 10 percent to 9 percent for the first time ever, to just over 9 percent. The increase in solar energy pushed solar’s share of ERCOT generation to more than 10 percent for the month, which was also a first.

Due to its sheer size, Texas is the No.1 state for solar capacity. According to the report from SmartAsset, the Lone Star State has the most clean energy capacity at 56,405 megawatts, but continues to trail states with similar geographic characteristics in overall clean energy prevalence.

Texas only 38 percent of the state’s electricity capacity comes from clean electricity, and it has the second-largest solar capacity, which means Texas has the most means, space, and potential to accommodate cleaner electricity. Texas as a whole, ranked No. 22 on the list for states with the most clean energy in the SmartAsset report.

In Texas, generation in March 2024 was 1.17 million MWh more year-over-year, which is a 56 percent increase. ERCOT data shows that the system currently has 22,710 megawatts (MW) of operational solar capacity according to IEEFA, and is expected to expand by almost one-third by the end of 2024 with an additional 7,168 MW of capacity added. The number just considers Texas solar projects that have set aside the financing required to get onto the ERCOT grid and that have a signed interconnection agreement.

Texas burned 50.7 million tons of coal for electricity, which was 13 percent of the U.S. total in 2023 according to the EIA grid monitor. Coal's annual share of ERCOT demand ranged from 36 percent to 40 percent from 2003 through 2014. The last year percent. In 2020, coal was under 20 percent in 2020; and was less than 15 percent in 2023 supplying just 13.9 percent of the system’s total demand.

The IEEFA notes coal’s low March production is important because in recent years it has been the moderate temperatures of April and May and steady winds that have affected the usage and the market share.