The Baker Hughes Technology Showcase opens — and more things to know this week. Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: looking back on top news from 2023, a deadline not to miss, and more.

New Baker Hughes Technology Showcase

The Baker Hughes Technology Showcase exists permanently at the company's Western Hemisphere Education Center in Tomball just outside of Houston to display the company's technologies.

There are more than 30 physical displays — some scaled down and 3D printed while others are exact replicas of the technology out in the field. In addition to these tangible pieces, hundreds are available to peruse on the touch-screen displays.

While there's the full technology spectrum represented, there's a particular focus on clean energy technologies — ones that aren't just future facing but are actually being used in the field today. Read more about the new showcase.

Upcoming deadline: The DOE's EnergyTech University Prize

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship will host the regional qualifier for a Department of Energy-backed student competition, and the application deadline to participate is coming up.

The DOE's EnergyTech University Prize, or EnergyTech UP, a virtual regional qualifier hosted by the Rice Alliance will take place in February, and applications for students and faculty are now open. A $400,000 collegiate competition, the program challenges student teams to develop a business plan based off of National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technology.

The application deadline is February 1 for students. This year there's a new track for faculty that has a prize of $100,000 on the line. Faculty have until January 5 to apply. Learn more.

The acquisition is inline with "DNV's ongoing commitment to support customers in leading and accelerating the energy transition." Photo courtesy of DNV

Norway-based risk management company acquires Houston energy SaaS biz

M&A Moves

A Norwegian company that specializes in risk management in the maritime industry has acquired a Houston software business.

DNV announced the acquisition of Houston-based ANB Systems earlier this month. ANB's software-as-a-service platform provides energy program services to utility and regulatory body customers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“ANB has grown steadily across its software products, its services, and its customers, through its configurable and scalable low-code proprietary software platforms," S. Balakrishnan, CEO of ANB Systems, says in the news release. "The acquisition by DNV will provide us with the resources for product development and operations, as well as give us global market reach. Most importantly, this will give us the resources to ensure we continue providing excellent customer implementation and support via our successful ReSULTS framework.”

The two companies have collaborated previously, and the acquisition is inline with "DNV's ongoing commitment to support customers in leading and accelerating the energy transition," as the company describes in the release.

"Energy efficiency is one of the defining features of the energy transition and the acquisition of ANB, with its strong focus on quality software solutions, will strengthen and expand our offerings in energy management and related services particularly in North America," Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV, says in the release.

Since its inception in 1997, ANB has developed digital solutions for automation within energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and more. Its platform is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"The collaboration between DNV and ANB will bring together two world-class teams, combining insights and experience to deliver comprehensive solutions to customers," Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV, says. "ANB Systems was founded with a clear mission - to partner with their customers to create best-in-class technology solutions that empower energy companies to provide best-in-class service including artificial intelligence.

"The company has grown and gained remarkable expertise in developing digital solutions for clean energy programs," he continues. "Together, DNV and ANB Systems are committed to accelerating the transition towards decarbonized, safe, and smart energy systems, enabling a sustainable future for all.”

The deadline to apply to participate in an upcoming energy-focused event is approaching. Photo courtesy of Rice

Rice Alliance calls for participants for its annual energy conference

now's the time to apply

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Energy Tech Venture Day, a one-day symposium for energy innovation put on by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. The organization is currently calling for applications for startups interested in participating.

The event is taking place on September 21 at Rice University and will bring together energy innovators, investors, corporate leaders, and the rest of the energy ecosystem. The programming will include panels and discussions as well as startup pitches from the Rice Alliance's Clean Energy Accelerator 2023 cohort.

In addition to the CEA pitches, energy tech startups from around the world can apply to be a part of the day and be in the running to be recognized as a select group as the "most-promising" at the conclusion of the pitches. Applications can be filled out online and are due July 14. Registration is also open online.

According to Rice, 90 or so companies will be selected to participate in one-on-one meetings with around 75 investors. The organization conducts a unique matchmaking round that pairs up investors and founders for four to 10 of these office hour meetings which will take place the day before the main event.

On the day of the Energy Tech Venture Day, around 40 companies will pitch to the rest of the crowd. At the end of the day and based off the investor feedback from the one-on-one meetings, 10 energy tech startups will be deemed the most-promising businesses and be presented with awards.

Last year, over a third of the companies that pitched were based in the Houston area. Two Houston-based companies received awards at the end of the day, including:

  • Kanin Energy, which works with heavy Industry to turn their waste heat into a clean baseload power source. The platform also provides tools such as project development, financing, and operations.
  • Syzygy Plasmonics, which is commercializing its light-reacting energy, which would greatly reduce carbon emissions in the chemical industry. The technology originated out of Rice University.
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ExxonMobil revs up EV pilot in Permian Basin

seeing green

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin | ExxonMobilyoutu.be

Energy industry veteran named CEO of Houston hydrogen co.

GOOD AS GOLD

Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Q&A: CEO of bp-acquired RNG producer on energy sustainability, stability

the view from heti

bp’s Archaea Energy is the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) producer in the U.S., with an industry leading RNG platform and expertise in developing, constructing and operating RNG facilities to capture waste emissions and convert them into low carbon fuel.

Archaea partners with landfill owners, farmers and other facilities to help them transform their feedstock sources into RNG and convert these facilities into renewable energy centers.

Starlee Sykes, Archaea Energy’s CEO, shared more about bp’s acquisition of the company and their vision for the future.

HETI: bp completed its acquisition of Archaea in December 2022. What is the significance of this acquisition for bp, and how does it bolster Archaea’s mission to create sustainability and stability for future generations?  

Starlee Sykes: The acquisition was an important move to accelerate and grow our plans for bp’s bioenergy transition growth engine, one of five strategic transition growth engines. Archaea will not only play a pivotal role in bp’s transition and ambition to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner but is a key part of bp’s plan to increase biogas supply volumes.

HETI: Tell us more about how renewable natural gas is used and why it’s an important component of the energy transition?  

SS: Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a type of biogas generated by decomposing organic material at landfill sites, anaerobic digesters and other waste facilities – and demand for it is growing. Our facilities convert waste emissions into renewable natural gas. RNG is a lower carbon fuel, which according to the EPA can help reduce emissions, improve local air quality, and provide fuel for homes, businesses and transportation. Our process creates a productive use for methane which would otherwise be burned or vented to the atmosphere. And in doing so, we displace traditional fossil fuels from the energy system.

HETI: Archaea recently brought online a first-of-its-kind RNG plant in Medora, Indiana. Can you tell us more about the launch and why it’s such a significant milestone for the company?  

SS:Archaea’s Medora plant came online in October 2023 – it was the first Archaea RNG plant to come online since bp’s acquisition. At Medora, we deployed the Archaea Modular Design (AMD) which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to build our plants. Traditionally, RNG plants have been custom-built, but AMD allows plants to be built on skids with interchangeable components for faster builds.

HETI: Now that the Medora plant is online, what does the future hold? What are some of Archaea’s priorities over the next 12 months and beyond?  

SS: We plan to bring online around 15 RNG plants in each of 2024 and 2025. Archaea has a development pipeline of more than 80 projects that underpin the potential for around five-fold growth in RNG production by 2030.

We will continue to operate around 50 sites across the US – including RNG plants, digesters and landfill gas-to-electric facilities.

And we are looking to the future. For example, at our Assai plant in Pennsylvania, the largest RNG plant in the US, we are in the planning stages to drill a carbon capture sequestration (CCS) appraisal well to determine if carbon dioxide sequestration could be feasible at this site, really demonstrating our commitment to decarbonization and the optionality in value we have across our portfolio.

HETI: bp has had an office in Washington, DC for many years. Can you tell us more about the role that legislation has to play in the energy transition? 

SS: Policy can play a critical role in advancing the energy transition, providing the necessary support to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We actively advocate for such policies through direct lobbying, formal comments and testimony, communications activities and advertising. We also advocate with regulators to help inform their rulemakings, as with the US Environmental Protection Agency to support the finalization of a well-designed electric Renewable Identification Number (eRIN) program.

HETI: Science and innovation are key drivers of the energy transition. In your view, what are some of most exciting innovations supporting the goal to reach net-zero emissions?  

SS: We don’t just talk about innovation in bp, we do it – and have been for many years. This track record gives us confidence in continuing to transform, change and innovate at pace and scale. The Archaea Modular Design is a great example of the type of innovation that bp supports which enables us to pursue our goal of net-zero emissions.

Beyond Archaea, we have engineers and scientists across bp who are working on innovative solutions with the goal of lowering emissions. We believe that we need to invest in lower carbon energy to meet the world’s climate objectives, but we also need to invest in today’s energy system, which is primarily hydrocarbon focused. It’s an ‘and’ not ‘or’ approach, and we need both to be successful.

Learn more about Archaea and the work they are doing in energy transition.

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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.