Seven energy companies are partnering to produce electric natural gas, a synthetic natural gas produced by combining renewable hydrogen and recycled CO2. Photo via Getty Images

More than half-a-dozen energy companies — most with a significant presence in Houston — have signed up as founding members of a coalition focusing on the production of electric natural gas.

Founders of the e-NG Coalition are:

  • Engie, whose North American headquarters is in Houston
  • Mitsubishi, which operates a branch office in Houston
  • Osaka Gas, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Sempra Infrastructure, which operates its Center of Excellence in Houston
  • TES (Tree Energy Solutions), whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Tokyo Gas, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Toho Gas, a Japanese utility
  • TotalEnergies, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston

Electric natural gas, also known as e-NG or e-natural gas, is a synthetic natural gas produced by combining renewable hydrogen and recycled CO2.

“The founding members of the coalition believe e-NG can provide a meaningful contribution to the energy transition by accelerating the development of renewable hydrogen,” the coalition says in a news release. “With large industrial capabilities and investment potential, the founding members are committed to the development of e-natural gas projects globally.”

TES spearheaded establishment of the e-NG Coalition.

“Collaboration is paramount to scaling up sustainable energy solutions and driving the energy transition forward. TES took the initiative to sponsor the creation of the e-NG Coalition and work together with leading industrial players to accelerate the development of e-NG,” says Marco Alverà, co-founder and CEO of TES.

Last September, Sempra Industries announced it had teamed up with four Japanese companies — Mitsubishi, Osaka Gas, Toho Gas, and Tokyo Gas — to explore building an e-natural gas project along the Gulf Coast.

The proposed project would generate 130,000 metric tons of e-natural gas per year. The gas would liquified at a terminal in Louisiana and then exported to Japan.

In a news release, the Japanese partners said they envisioned developing “the world’s first large-scale production and international supply chain of e-natural gas.”

Located in Callahan County, Texas, outside of Abilene, ENGIE's Century Oak Wind Project is nearing completion. Photo courtesy of Engie

Low-carbon energy company with U.S. HQ in Houston to launch Texas wind energy plant later this year

wind in the west

A wind energy project being built just east of Abilene by Houston-based ENGIE North America will annually supply 65 megawatts of power to Ferguson, a distributor of hardware, tools, plumbing supplies, and other industrial items.

Under a newly signed agreement, ENGIE’s 153-megawatt Century Oak project is expected to generate enough wind energy to meet most of Ferguson’s electrical needs in the U.S. and Canada. This energy would power the equivalent of 34,000 typical homes in the U.S. The project features 45 wind turbines.

The Century Oak project is creating about 300 to 400 construction jobs. It’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

Paperwork submitted in 2021 to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts indicates ENGIE North America, a subsidiary of French utility company ENGIE, is investing more than $140 million in the project.

Across North America, ENGIE is building or operating nearly seven gigawatts’ worth of wind, solar, and storage capacity.

“We have activities in more than 100 counties across the U.S. and Canada — the energy transition is really one that will be powered by communities across the continent,” says Dave Carroll, chief renewables officer at ENGIE North America.

ENGIE’s other wind energy customers in Texas include Akamai, Allianz, GetBlok Farms, Ingersoll Rand, Microsoft, and Walmart.

Last year, ENGIE North America wrapped up $800 million in financing for three renewable energy projects in the U.S., including a wind farm in Texas, that are capable of generating 665 megawatts of renewable energy.

Broad Reach Power's battery storage assets piqued a French company's interest. Photo via

French company to acquire Houston-based battery storage startup in $1B deal

M&A Moves

A French utility company is buying the bulk of Houston-based Broad Reach Power’s battery energy storage business in a deal carrying an equity value of more than $1 billion.

Engie, has agreed to purchase the majority of the startup’s battery storage business from EnCap Energy Transition Fund I and three investment partners — New York City-based Yorktown Partners, Switzerland-based Mercuria Energy, and New York City-based Apollo Infrastructure Funds.

“This acquisition is fully in line with Engie’s strategy: It will contribute to the development of a low-carbon, affordable, and resilient energy system where flexible assets will play a critical role alongside renewables,” says Catherine MacGregor, the utility’s CEO.

Broad Reach launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap Energy Transition, an arm of Houston-based private equity firm EnCap Investments. Apollo Global Management, an asset manager that controls Apollo Infrastructure Funds, bought a 50 percent stake in Broad Reach in 2021.

The deal includes 350 megawatts of grid-scale battery assets that already are operating and 880 megawatts of assets under construction, primarily in the territory served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). It also includes a 1.7-gigawatt pipeline of battery storage projects that are in the advanced stage of development and a significant pipeline of early-stage projects.

In July, Broad Reach said it had lined up $435 million in credit facilities to support the 880 megawatts’ worth of systems under construction in Texas and California.

The Broad Reach acquisition does not include the company’s 1.8-gigawatt portfolio of solar and wind power projects, or its four gigawatt-hours’ worth of battery storage in the Mountain West.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but the Bloomberg news service reports the deal will cause Engie to “take a $1.6 billion hit” to it net debt.

Shawn Cumberland, managing partner of EnCap and chairman of Broad Reach, calls Broad Reach “the top battery storage player in the U.S. market.” And Corinne Still, an infrastructure partner at Apollo, refers to Broad Reach as “the leading and most innovative” battery energy storage operator in North America.

“It has been a terrific honor and pleasure to be part of the rapid growth of the U.S. energy storage sector from the very beginning and see our company grow into one of the top developers,” says Doug Moorehead, founder and COO of Broad Reach.

At a recent event in Houston, energy transition experts shared opportunities in renewables and sustainability. Photo by Lindsey Ferrell/EnergyCapital

Energy transition opportunities are heading to Texas and beyond, according to these experts


The energy industry in Houston, Texas, and beyond is gearing up for new opportunities within the energy transition, as a recent Houston event and its lineup of experts shared.

At the inaugural ENERGYEAR USA 2023, panelists outlined how their companies are opting into a more personable approach to building sustainable energy solutions – and sustainable communities.

“Most of our renewable projects are in very rural areas. We come to communities that don’t have enough money to invest in their schools, their kids. There’s not a lot of opportunity,” explains David Carroll, chief renewables officer and senior vice president of the North America region for Engie.

“We come in and invest a lot in the construction phase, but after that, we have workers that live there. We are often one of the largest taxpayers in that area,” Carroll continues. “We can provide them cash profit, provide them the tax base, so that we can help provide a future in many of these rural communities that were struggling before we got there.”

Engie, which has closed several coal plants globally ahead of schedule to work toward meeting their commitment to Net Zero by 2045, isn’t the only organization that emphasizes purpose in its pursuit of energy equity.

Power Electronics, the global leader in renewable energy storage, finds purpose through re-purposing field technicians. For the past five years, the organization has transformed talent with electrical equipment experience from the oil and gas industry into renewables. The company doesn’t plan on slowing down, either.

“We are proud to announce here today [that over] the next two years, we will create more than 500 jobs as the largest ever manufacturer of solar inverter and intermediate scale battery inverters in the U.S.,” shares David Salvo, CEO of Power Electronics. “We start manufacturing EV chargers in Houston later this year and are committed to U.S. manufacturing job creation.”

The company saw a need for setting up a Texas manufacturing facility to support growth and was impressed by the volume of Houston talent possessing a deep understanding of both mechanical and electrical equipment from their tenure in upstream oil and gas.

“It is easier to find people here [like that] than anywhere else,” Salvo tells EnergyCapitalHTX. “That is a fact.”

Explosive growth for the region has barely even begun, with expected investments in Texas alone exceeding $60 billion dollars in large scale renewables.

“Because of these investments that we are making, we are able to create good paying jobs… and meet climate goals of getting to a Net Zero economy by 2050,” Jeff Marootian, U.S Department of Energy senior advisor, tells Katie Mehnert, CEO of Ally Energy and DOE Ambassador, during their fireside chat.

“Partnership between government and private sector, ultimately, is creating these opportunities,” Marootian says. “Our challenge is to help identify, help train, help build up that generation of workforce.”

As a final note on the trifecta of purpose, partnering, and governance, Erika Bierschbach, vice president of energy market operations and resource planning for Austin Energy, challenges the power and utilities industry to embrace statistical models over deterministic ones when forecasting energy supply and demand. The upstream oil and gas sector embraced this practice years ago to improve production optimization processes.

On the subject of green energy employment, a recent report found that Houston is a successful hub when it comes to clean energy jobs. SmartAsset, a personal finance website, recently ranked the Houston metro area as the fifth best place in the U.S. for green jobs, which pay an average of 21 percent more than other jobs. And actually, the study found that 2.23 percent of workers in the Houston area hold down jobs classified as “green.”

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3 Houston sustainability startups score prizes at Rice University pitch competition

seeing green

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

ExxonMobil's $60B acquisition gets FTC clearance — with one condition

M&A moves

ExxonMobil's $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, but the former CEO of Pioneer was barred from joining the new company's board of directors.

The FTC said Thursday that Scott Sheffield, who founded Pioneer in 1997, colluded with OPEC and OPEC+ to potentially raise crude oil prices. Sheffield retired from the company in 2016, but he returned as president and CEO in 2019, served as CEO from 2021 to 2023, and continues to serve on the board. Since Jan. 1, he has served as special adviser to the company’s chief executive.

“Through public statements, text messages, in-person meetings, WhatsApp conversations and other communications while at Pioneer, Sheffield sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico with OPEC+,” according to the FTC. It proposed a consent order that Exxon won't appoint any Pioneer employee, with a few exceptions, to its board.

Dallas-based Pioneer said in a statement it disagreed with the allegations but would not impede closing of the merger, which was announced in October 2023.

“Sheffield and Pioneer believe that the FTC’s complaint reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. and global oil markets and misreads the nature and intent of Mr. Sheffield’s actions,” the company said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was “disappointing that FTC is making the same mistake they made 25 years ago when I warned about the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999.”

Schumer and 22 other Democratic senators had urged the FTC to investigate the deal and a separate merger between Chevron and Hess, saying they could lead to higher prices, hurt competition and force families to pay more at the pump.

The deal with Pioneer vastly expands Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, a huge oilfield that straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. Pioneer’s more than 850,000 net acres in the Midland Basin will be combined with Exxon’s 570,000 net acres in the Delaware and Midland Basin, nearly contiguous fields that will allow the combined company to trim costs.