Recently, two HETI members announced acquisition and investment into carbon capture businesses. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

CCUS will play a pivotal role in the global energy transition by decarbonizing carbon-intensive industries, including energy, chemicals, cement, and steel. CCUS is one of the few proven technologies to significantly lower net emissions. However, the unique nature of decarbonization presents many complex challenges. With greater funding and growing policy support, the widespread adoption of CCUS technologies is becoming more technically feasible and economically viable than ever before.

Houston, with its existing CCUS infrastructure, large concentration of CCUS expertise, and high storage capacity, is the ideal location to deploy and derisk CCUS projects at unprecedented speed and scale. Recently, two HETI members announced acquisition and investment into carbon capture businesses.

SLB + Aker Carbon Capture (ACC)

SLB, a pioneer in carbon capture technologies, announced an agreement to acquire major ownership in Aker Carbon Capture (ACC), a pure-play carbon capture company. The move combines SLB’s established CCUS business with ACC’s innovative CCUS technology to support accelerated industrial decarbonization at scale.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” said Olivier Le Peuch, chief executive officer, SLB. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project. We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors.”

Chevron New Energies + ION Clean Energy

Chevron New Energies, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc., announced a lead investment in ION Clean Energy (ION), which provides post-combustion point-source capture technology through its third-generation ICE-31 liquid amine system. This investment expands and complements Chevron’s growing portfolio of CCUS technologies.

“ION’s solvent technology, combined with Chevron’s assets and capabilities, has the potential to reach numerous emitters and support our ambitions of a lower carbon future,” said Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS & Emerging, Chevron New Energies. “We believe collaborations like this are essential to our efforts to grow carbon capture on a global scale.”

“This investment from Chevron is a huge testament to the hard work of our team and the potential of our technology,” said ION founder and executive chairman Buz Brown. “We appreciate their collaboration and with their investment we expect to accelerate commercial deployment of our technology so that we can realize the kind of wide-ranging commercial and environmental impact we’ve long envisioned.”

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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.

This expert acknowledges the energy transition is not happening overnight — but it's never too early for Texans looking to get in on the ground floor. Photo via Shutterstock

Expert shares 5 key factors for evolving the energy transition in Texas

GUEST COLUMN

Humanity faces an inflection point in the coming decade. In order for the world’s population to survive and, ultimately, prosper, especially the population of developing countries such as India, China, and Brazil, significant investment in all forms of energy will be needed. Texas-based energy companies will play a crucial role in developing, advancing and supplying environmentally sensitive forms of energy to meet the world’s insatiable demand.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, global energy consumption is expected to increase by a staggering 50 percent in the next 25 years. Fueled by rapid economic and population growth, this spike in demand is particularly focused within developing Asian countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Taking steps toward energy evolution today is crucial not only for economic progress but also to address the long-term impact of climate change. Research compiled by JLL highlights five key factors to consider.

1. Embracing a gradual evolution

Historically, energy transitions require significant time to be fully realized, often spanning over 50 years. Coal took more than 60 years to grow from a mere 5 percent to a dominant 50 percent share of the world's primary energy supply. Similarly, natural gas took nearly 70 years to increase its market share from 1 percent to 20 percent in the United States. Widespread commercialization of nuclear energy spans as much as 80 years, from the point of initial discovery and application. Major pendulum swings do not occur overnight; the next energy evolution will require adaptability and resilience.

2. Increase in global energy consumption

As non-OECD countries experience periods of economic growth, particularly driven by a growth of the manufacturing sector, these countries’ energy consumption naturally follows suit. Approximately 2.5 billion people live in these regions, which today heavily rely on non-renewable sources to meet basic energy needs.

As OECD countries continue to introduce sustainable technologies like battery power and other alternatives at scale, a transfer of more efficient and eco-friendly sources and technologies to developing communities must occur to reduce the world’s overall carbon footprint.

3. Surging investment in global energy transition

Investments in the global energy transition surpassed $1 trillion in 2022 – a stunning year-over-year increase of 31 percent. These investments are propelling innovative, sustainable solutions and driving the research and development necessary for a more environmentally conscious energy landscape.

4. Diversification and revised renewables forecast

Countries are actively diversifying their energy generation away from natural gas, specifically as a response to the energy crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This push towards sustainable alternatives has received further validation with the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently revising its five-year renewables forecast, emphasizing a significant 28.4 percent increase. This revision serves as a testament to the increasing significance of sustainable energy sources in ensuring a resilient energy future.

5. United States energy production

Even with the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), the United States will maintain its production and export of oil, natural gas, and derivatives. While recognizing the continued role of these traditional energy sources in meeting global energy demands, the United States also acknowledges the imperative of transitioning towards sustainable energy sources. Encouraging companies to embrace alternative energy solutions in line with this transition is now big business, as significant incentives are being provided at federal and state levels.

And what about here in Texas?

In this critical era of global energy evolution, Texas has the opportunity to take center stage, holding the keys not only to its own future but also to those far beyond the state’s borders. With abundant wind power production, vast solar energy potential, a favorable regulatory environment, and attractive tax incentives, Texas is well positioned to be a leader in innovation, research, and production of alternative energy sources. Combined with the presence of many of the country’s leading energy companies, Texas must be a powerhouse for driving a sustainable energy transition on a large scale.

Transforming the global energy landscape will not be accomplished overnight. It requires the collective efforts of governments, industries, companies, and individuals working together towards a common goal. Texas and Texans can serve as a beacon of inspiration, leading the charge in alternative energy adoption and investing today in the next century of energy production and consumption. Ultimately, our example should be one the world can follow.

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Louis Rosenthal is executive managing director at JLL and the global leader of the company's energy and renewables practice group.

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Houston energy data SaaS co. expands to new platform

making moves

In an effort to consolidate and improve energy data and forecasting, a Houston software company has expanded to a new platform.

Amperon announced that it has expanded its AI-powered energy forecaststoSnowflake Marketplace, an AI data cloud company. With the collaboration, joint customers can seamlessly integrate accurate energy forecasts into power market trading. The technology that Amperon provides its customers — a comprehensive, AI-backed data analytics platform — is key to the energy industry and the transition of the sector.

“As Amperon continues to modernize energy data and AI infrastructure, we’re excited to partner with Snowflake to bring the most accurate energy forecasts into a single data experience that spans multiple clouds and geographies," Alex Robart, chief revenue officer at Amperon, says in a news release. "By doing so, we’re bringing energy forecasts to where they will be accessible to more energy companies looking to increase performance and reliability."

Together, the combined technology can move the needle on enhanced accuracy in forecasting that strengthens grid reliability, manages monetary risk, and advances decarbonization.

“This partnership signifies Amperon’s commitment to deliver world-class data-driven energy management solutions," Titiaan Palazzi, head of power and Utilities at Snowflake, adds. "Together, we are helping organizations to easily and securely access the necessary insights to manage risk and maximize profitability in the energy transition."

With Amperon's integrated short-term demand and renewables forecasts, Snowflake users can optimize power markets trading activity and manage load risk.

"Amperon on Snowflake enables us to easily integrate our different data streams into a single unified view," Jack Wang, senior power trader and head of US Power Analysis at Axpo, says. "We value having complete access and control over our analytics and visualization tools. Snowflake allows us to quickly track and analyze the evolution of every forecast Amperon generates, which ultimately leads to better insights into our trading strategy."

Amperon, which recently expanded operations to Europe, closed a $20 million series B round last fall led by Energize Capital and tripled its team in the past year and a half.

In March, Amperon announced that it replatformed its AI-powered energy analytics technology onto Microsoft Azure.

Learn more about the company on the Houston Innovators Podcast episode with Sean Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Amperon.

Houston logistics company works toward software solutions to energy transition challenges

offshore shipping

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now."

And, predictably, some of those waves are caused by new momentum within the energy transition.

"The energy transition has thrown up a lot of questions for everyone in the maritime industry," Costello says. "The regulations create a lot of questions around cost primarily. ... And that has created a huge number of opportunities for technology."

Fuel as a primary cost for the maritime industry. These cargo ships are traversing the world 24/7 and burning fuel at all times. Costello says there's an increased focus on the fuel process — "all with a goal of essentially reducing carbon intensity usage."

One of the ways to move the needle on reducing the carbon footprint of these ships is optimizing the time spent in port, and specifically the delays associated. Demurrage are charges associated with delays in loading and unloading cargo within maritime shipping, and Costello estimates that the total paid globally in demurrage fees is around $10 billion to $20 billion a year.

"These fees can be huge," Costello says. "What technology has really enabled with this problem of demurrage is helping companies drill down to the true root cause of what something is happening."

All this progress is thanks to the enhancement — and wider range of acceptance — of data analysis and artificial intelligence.

Costello, who says Voyager has been improving its profitability every quarter for the last year, has grown the business to around 40 employees in its headquarters of Houston and three remote offices in Brazil, London, and Singapore. The company's last round of funding was a series A in 2021. Costello says the next round, if needed, would be next year.

In the meantime, Voyager is laser focused on providing optimized, cost-saving, and sustainable solutions for its customers — around half of which are headquartered or have a significant presence in Houston. For Costello, that's all about putting the control back into the hands of his customers.

"If we think back to the real problems the industry faces, a lot of them are controlled by different groups and parties. The fact that a ship cannot get in and out of a port quickly is not necessarily a function of one party's issue — it's a multitude of issues, and there's no one factor," Costello says on the show. "To really make the whole process efficient end-to-end you need to provide the customer to access and options for different means of getting cargo from A to B — and you need to have a sense of control in that process."

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Oxy subsidiary secures Microsoft as largest-ever DAC carbon removal credit customer

major move

Occidental Petroleum’s Houston-based carbon capture, utilization and, sequestration (CCUS) subsidiary, 1PointFive, has inked a six-year deal to sell 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide removal credits to software giant Microsoft.

In a news release, 1Point5 says this agreement represents the largest-ever single purchase of carbon credits enabled by direct air capture (DAC). DAC technology pulls CO2 from the air at any location, not just where carbon dioxide is emitted.

Under the agreement, the carbon dioxide that underlies the credits will be stored in a below-the-surface saline aquifer and won’t be used to produce oil or gas.

“A commitment of this magnitude further demonstrates how one of the world’s largest corporations is integrating scalable [DAC] into its net-zero strategy,” says Michael Avery, president and general manager of 1PointFive. “Energy demand across the technology industry is increasing, and we believe [DAC] is uniquely suited to remove residual emissions and further climate goals.”

Brian Marrs, senior director for carbon removal and energy at Microsoft, says DAC plays a key role in Microsoft’s effort to become carbon-negative by 2030.

The carbon dioxide will be stored at 1PointFive’s first industrial-scale DAC plant, being built near Odessa. The $1.3 billion Stratos project, which 1Point5 is developing through a joint venture with investment manager BlackRock, is designed to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

The facility is scheduled to open in mid-2025.

Aside from Microsoft, organizations that have agreed to buy carbon removal credits from 1Point5 include Amazon, Airbus, All Nippon Airways, the Houston Astros, the Houston Texans, and TD Bank.

Occidental says 1PointFive plans to set up more than 100 DAC facilities worldwide by 2035.