This year’s CERAWeek occurred during an inflexion point in the U.S.’s conversation around decarbonization. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

Earlier this month, thousands converged on Houston for one of the world’s largest energy conferences – CERAWeek 2024. For five days global leaders, CEOs, oil and gas experts, and the industry’s top stakeholders gathered to provide insight, and discuss solutions, to some of the biggest questions on the future of energy.

Just this week, on the heels of the conference, it was hugely encouraging to see the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announce up to $6 billion for 33 projects across more than 20 states to decarbonize energy-intensive industries and reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement underscored the vitally important, and yet largely untapped role that industrial carbon capture must play in reaching the U.S.’s overall decarbonization goals. This must include significant point-source technology onsite at hard-to-abate industrial emitters like cement, metals and chemicals. The DOE announcement makes that priority clear, with the focus of the two largest grants for cement decarbonization projects going to carbon capture, each up to $500 million.

This was one of the major takeaways at this year’s CERAWeek: despite the success of the IRA, if we are to achieve the rapid scaling required to tackle emissions coming from hard-to-abate sectors, and now is the time to move rapidly into deployment, beginning with carbon capture demonstrations at industrial sites. Through our work with Chevron on the development of a carbon capture pilot for our CycloneCC technology on a gas turbine in San Joaquin Valley, California, we are proud to be doing exactly that.

While Carbon Clean has been active in the U.S. for several years, we chose to unveil our new Houston headquarters during last year’s CERAWeek, selecting the energy capital of the world for our U.S. home. With this increased focus on industrial decarbonization, the opportunities for carbon capture deployment in the U.S. – and more specifically Greater Houston – have significantly expanded. Since first opening the U.S. headquarters in Houston last year, we have grown our headcount by two-thirds and seen U.S. inquiries for our modular, point-source carbon capture solutions skyrocket by a further 59% (and this is after the initial leap in interest following the IRA’s passage).

Still, while a lot has been accomplished over the past year, we recognize that a lot more needs to be done to meet the country’s net zero targets, particularly in the space of industrial decarbonization. This was another takeaway at this year’s CERAWeek, a recognition that many industrial leaders have adopted ambitious net-zero goals but have no plans for implementation.

In conversations with many of this year’s conference attendees, one thing became abundantly clear: yes, the IRA was a breakthrough moment that provided key incentives for companies to enter the carbon capture space and develop the kinds of decarbonization technology that will reduce emissions. However, that only gets us half of the way there: we need to foster a market for the demand of clean industrial production, using the IRA as the vehicle to create that supply. Through the allocation of credits and increased pricing power, we can generate more demand from industrial emitters to embrace the kinds of technology that will enable them to reach net-zero.

Another critical next step: when it comes to adopting local industrial carbon capture projects, accelerate permitting by letting the states decide for themselves. The EPA’s recent decision to grant Louisiana the power to approve carbon capture projects could open the door to a wave of new project applications and additional states seeking the same authority.

If you want an example of a local economy poised to greatly benefit from expanded access to industrial carbon capture, look no further than Houston. With its energy expertise and local resources, Greater Houston is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of carbon capture’s promise, which will not only reduce the region’s emissions but grow jobs.

A recent study by the EFI Foundation, supported by Carbon Clean, identified Houston as an ideal location for a new coordinated regional approach to industrial carbon capture hubs. Previously, most studies on deployment focused on decarbonizing large emitters - the EFI report is focused on small-to-midsize emitters, as they account for 25 percent of America’s industrial emissions but are often overlooked given the cost and space barriers that have historically been barriers to the mass adoption of industrial carbon capture units.

Today, there are 311 facilities in the Houston cluster that fit the bill, representing 36.6 million metric tons of capturable CO2 emissions per year. Given that the region employs nearly a third of the nation’s jobs in oil and gas extraction alone, allowing multiple local emitters access to shared CO2 transport and storage would create a scalable solution at a lower cost. The business community should embrace the findings of this report, unlocking a key tool in combating local emissions, while also sustaining Houston’s workforce.

This year’s CERAWeek occurred during an inflexion point in the U.S.’s conversation around decarbonization. While a lot of progress is underway, it is imperative that energy leaders and the business community fully leverage industrial carbon capture technology if they are serious about reducing emissions at the source. Failure to do so recalls the aphorism by Benjamin Franklin: "Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

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Aniruddha Sharma is the co-founder and CEO of Carbon Clean.

Carbon Clean has secured a prominent global recognition. Photo via CarbonClean.com

Carbon capture co. with Houston presence receives prestigious sustainability recognition

climatetech heroes

A United Kingdom-headquartered carbon capture business with a growing presence in Houston has received a distinguishing honor that recognizes climatetech leaders.

Carbon Clean, which has expanded to the United States by way of Houston, has received the Sustainable Markets Initiative 2023 Terra Carta Seal. The distinguishment recognizes global companies that are helping to create a nature-positive future for the climate. This is part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s larger mandate to help provide a framework to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future by placing the planet and people first.

“The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Terra Carta Seal recognises those companies which are taking great strides in delivering real-world outcomes," Jennifer Jordan-Saifi, CEO of Sustainable Markets Initiative, says in the release. "As we stand on the eve of COP28, public, private sector, and philanthropic actors will come together at the inaugural Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum to bridge the gap between ambition and action. It isexamples exemplified by the 2023 Terra Carta Seal winners that are helping to inspire and lead the way.”

The Terra Carta Seal was launched in 2021 during COP26 by His Majesty King Charles III when he was the Prince of Wales. An international panel of experts from the environmental, business, political and philanthropic worlds chose 17 global companies for the honor.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Sustainable Markets Initiative for our contribution to the global transition to net zero, “ says Aniruddha Sharma, chair and CEO of Carbon Clean, in a news release. “Carbon Clean’s mission is simple: to deliver cost-effective, space-saving, modular carbon capture technology, enabling hard-to-abate industries to decarbonise at scale.”

Carbon Clean aims to revolutionize industrial carbon capture with its CycloneCC, which solves large barriers to widespread adoption of industrial carbon capture: cost and space.The technology of CycloneCC will be key in the company’s goal to achieve net zero by 2050.

Carbon Clean develops carbon capture technology for customers such as cement producers, steelmakers, refineries, and waste-to-energy plants. The company bills its offering as the “world’s smallest industrial carbon capture technology.” CycloneCC can reduce the cost of carbon capture by as much as 50 percent with a footprint that’s 50 percent smaller than traditional carbon capture units, according to Carbon Clean. The UK company established its Houston location this year.

Last month, CycloneCC was selected by ADNOC for a carbon capture project at Fertiglobe’s plant located in the Ruways Industrial Complex, Abu Dhabi. The project is the first deployment of a 10 tonnes per day CycloneCC industrial unit.

"Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast." Photo via Getty Images

Energy tech expert: Recent report shines light on clean tech progress needed by 2030

guest column

Houston is home to some of the nation's largest oil and gas exploration and production firms, making it one of the world’s most important energy capitals. Growing regional support for pioneering clean tech, such as carbon capture, will help achieve the crucial transition to net zero whilst maintaining economic stability, boosting local industries and creating jobs.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), North America and Asia Pacific are expected to hold the largest share in carbon capture capacity. North America’s world-leading carbon capture potential comes as no surprise given the nation’s dominance in oil and gas, and ideal geology for sequestration.

The IEA’s recently published World Energy Outlook 2023 depicts a global market that is in transition. With more companies, world leaders and governments recognizing that a shift towards sustainable energy is both inevitable and transformative, the question is no longer whether we switch to clean energy, but rather how soon the transition can happen.

For every $1 in investment spending on fossil fuels globally, $1.8 is now being spent to develop clean energy, according to the IEA. Although the clean energy market has almost doubled in the past five years to reach an estimated $2.8 trillion in 2023, investment needs to hit $4.2 trillion per year by 2030 to achieve the universally shared goal of net zero. The IEA believes around 1 Gigaton of CO2 must be captured in 2030, rising to 6 Gigatons by 2050 to achieve the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (termed NZE Scenario). This presents a tremendous opportunity for government stakeholders and the business community in Houston to turbocharge the economy and protect the planet from the impact of climate change.

While volatility around the energy market lingers, sustainable technologies remain one of the most dynamic areas of global energy investment. An essential ingredient to its success is bringing on board innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations, and financiers to ensure technology innovation is front and center in facilitating the clean energy transition.

Carbon capture technology is critical, but energy leaders and hard-to-abate industries are under pressure to move faster. To do that, the carbon capture industry must scale up its deployment and increase adoption if hard-to-abate sectors are to address the 30 percent of global CO2 emissions for which they are responsible. Governments have a pivotal role to play in providing financial, regulatory and policy incentives, facilitating a collaborative environment between financiers, hard-to-abate operators, and clean tech companies. While we are moving in the right direction, there is no room for complacency or procrastination given the short timescales for meaningful action.

Over the past several years, Carbon Clean, a global company that is revolutionizing carbon capture, has enjoyed significant expansion in North America. Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022, we saw huge interest in our modular industrial carbon capture technology almost overnight, resulting in a 64 percent increase in inquiries from the U.S. To meet this booming demand, we have opened a U.S. headquarters in Houston, and have plans to double our U.S. headcount to meet industry requirements for our scalable and cost-effective technology, CycloneCC. In short, the United States is poised to become our biggest market. Given our latest lead investor and partner is Houston-based Chevron New Energies, there is no better place than Houston to drive innovation in the country’s energy sector.

The IRA did more than just bring in new inquiries for our breakthrough technology – it also signaled to the energy sector that the federal government is getting serious about bringing emissions down. The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated, especially for the point-source carbon capture technology pioneered by Carbon Clean. While the IRA involves billions of dollars of public investment, it is set up in such a way that companies must make substantial investments first, acting as a down payment on fostering jobs and ensuring the business community is delivering ambitious climate action. The benefits are being felt locally as well – cities like Houston are at the forefront of what the IRA has to offer, taking advantage of these investments and reducing emissions.

Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast. With the dramatic growth required for carbon capture to have full effect, it will be essential for government, industry, and innovators to join together to concentrate on a number of projects and clusters. We are confident that with new cutting-edge technology and broad collaboration we can rapidly get the world on the right path to net zero.

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Prateek Bumb is CTO and co-founder of Carbon Clean and the principal innovator of Carbon Clean’s industrial carbon capture technologies.

Carbon Clean develops carbon capture technology for customers such as cement producers, steelmakers, refineries, and waste-to-energy plants.

Clean tech co. with U.S. HQ selected for UAE carbon capture project

big win

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), the state-owned oil company of the United Arab Emirates, has chosen technology from United Kingdom-based company Carbon Clean for a carbon capture project in Abu Dhabi. Carbon Clean’s U.S. headquarters is in Houston.

Carbon Clean’s modular CycloneCC technology will be used for a carbon capture project at a Fertiglobe nitrogen fertilizer plant. Fertiglobe is a joint venture between ADNOC and OCI Global, a Netherlands-based chemical company.

“This project is hugely significant given it’s the first industrial deployment of our award-winning CycloneCC technology anywhere in the world,” says Aniruddha Sharma, chairman and CEO of Carbon Clean. “We are moving a step closer to achieving full commercialization of this modular solution, which will play a vital role in decarbonizing heavy industries and achieving net-zero targets.”

Carbon Clean develops carbon capture technology for customers such as cement producers, steelmakers, refineries, and waste-to-energy plants. The company bills its offering as the “world’s smallest industrial carbon capture technology.”

CycloneCC can reduce the cost of carbon capture by as much as 50 percent with a footprint that’s 50 percent smaller than traditional carbon capture units, according to Carbon Clean. The startup’s unit arrives ready to install and can be up and running in eight weeks.

The company established its Houston outpost earlier this year.

In 2022, Houston-based Chevron New Energies led the company’s $150 million series C round. Other contributors to the round were CEMEX Ventures, Marubeni, WAVE Equity Partners, AXA IM Alts, Samsung Ventures, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, and TC Energy. To date, Carbon Clean has raised $195 million.

How the IRA is affecting clean energy project development, events not to miss, and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

3 things to know this week: Energy startups announce big wins, evaluating the IRA's first year, and more

hou knew?

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Three energy tech startups are celebrating big wins, experts evaluate the IRA's first year, and events not to miss this week.

Eyes on the IRA

How did the IRA affect energy transition project development? Experts discussed the positive impacts — as well as the challenges still to overcome. Photo courtesy of Renewable Energy Alliance Houston

August 16 marked one year of the Inflation Reduction Act's enactment, and many have taken this first anniversary as an opportunity to look back on its effectiveness and where it's fallen short.

For Carbon Clean, a United Kingdom-founded company, the IRA made all the difference in its expansion into the United States — by way of Houston.

"The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated for our industry, especially for point source carbon capture technology companies like Carbon Clean," Co-Founder, Chair, and CEO Aniruddha Sharma shares with EnergyCapital in an interview. "The momentum created by the law's passage, along with our existing activity in North America, led to the opening of our US headquarters in Houston in March this year. We will double our US headcount to meet demand for CycloneCC, our breakthrough, fully modular carbon capture technology."

At a recent event at Rice University, experts zeroed in on the effect on clean energy project development. While the IRA opened doors for new funding, it also revealed shortcomings when it came to permitting.

"The IRA for developers has been very positive. It provided certainty and allowed developers and investors alike to plan long term," says Omar Aboudaher, senior vice president of development for Leeward Renewable Energy. "With that comes challenges, including exacerbating some existing problems with permitting."

Energy tech startup wins

These three startups have something to celebrate. Photo via Getty Images

Three energy tech startups had some big wins last week — let's take a look.

  • Nauticus Robotics, a Houston-based tech company providing software and hardtech solutions for industrial and government entities, secured a $2.1 million contract extension with one of its biggest clients. Read more.
  • France-based Engie announced that it will acquire Houston-based battery storage startup Broad Reach Power in $1 billion deal. The company launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap Energy Transition, an arm of Houston-based private equity firm EnCap Investments. Read more.
  • Austin-based energy software company P6 Technologies closed a $3.25 million seed round of funding with support from a handful of Houston investors from GOOSE Capital, Artemis Energy Partners, Tupper Lake Partners, and Veritec Ventures. Read more.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

Mark your calendars. Photo via Getty Images

Plan the rest of your August accordingly.

  • August 28-30 — Industrial IMMERSIVE Week attracts the most industrial, energy, and engineering tech professionals making investment, strategy and tactical decisions, or building, scaling and executing pioneering XR/3D/Simulations, digital twin, reality capture, edge /spatial computing, AI/ML, connected workforce & IIoT projects within their enterprise.
  • August 30 — 2023 Energy Research Day will be a showcase of outstanding energy-related research by University of Houston graduate and postdoctoral students. Sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate School, the event gives industries in the Greater Houston area a chance to see UH research up close and network with future collaborators.
  • August 30-31 — Carbon & ESG Strategies Conference, presented by Hart Energy, will highlight carbon capture and storage projects and technologies onshore and offshore, direct air capture, enhanced oil recovery, responsibly sourced gas, renewable natural gas, federal funding challenges and insurance issues, ESG initiatives, regulatory concerns and much more.

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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.”