The week, which will be hosted at the Ion and around Houston, will gather investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the energy industry to showcase Houston's growing sustainability community. Photo via the Ion

Three organizations are teaming up to put on a week of programming and events focused on energy and climate startups.

Greentown Labs, Halliburton Labs, and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship have announced Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week 2024 taking place September 9 to 13.

“These organizations will execute events that will serve as a launching pad for an Energy and Climate Startup Week in Houston, showcasing the city as a national hub for the energy future,” Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance, says in the release. “We welcome the community to bring other energy and climate events to the week, which we’ll cross-promote as the dates approach.”

The week will assemble investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the energy industry and from around the world to showcase Houston's growing sustainable, low-carbon energy future.

The initiative is in collaboration with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, an initiative of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as Activate, Digital Wildcatters, Renewable Energy Alliance Houston, and TEX-E.

“As the energy capital and one of the most diverse cities in the world, Houston stands as a center point for these solutions. The region is welcoming, diverse and has the know-how to play a critical role in building an energy abundant, low-carbon future," Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI and senior vice president at GHP, says in the release. "We welcome all who want to be part of the solution to join for this exciting, inaugural week of events.”

Attendees can expect tech and startup showcases, panels, pitches, discussions, and networking events to be hosted across Houston and at the Ion, Rice's innovation hub in Midtown. More details on the events will be added to the Ion's website as they become available.

“We look forward to the opportunity to highlight talented founders and connect them with investors, industry practitioners and university resources to help accelerate energy innovation,” Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, says in the release. “The collaboration to launch Energy and Climate Startup Week reflects how Houston works together to scale solutions."

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

HETI, collaborators open pitch competition applications for annual CERAWeek event

the view from heti

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and TEX-E have opened applications for their Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek, set to take place in the Agora program on March 20.

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. The fast-paced competition is designed to connect energy startups with venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, industry leaders, academics and service providers.

Ventures will be showcased across three industry tracks, spanning materials to clean energy. Industry experts and investors will judge the pitches, and the top three ventures from each track will be named at the conclusion of the event. The pitches from energy ventures will include a university track, the TEX-E Prize, highlighting the innovation of five Texas student-led energy startups. With mentorship leading up to the competition, these student startups will compete for $50,000 in cash prizes.

“The goal of the TEX-E Prize is to support, encourage and inspire students across the state of Texas to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of reducing emissions and building a healthier, more resilient society,” said David Pruner, executive director at TEX-E.

Energy ventures for all tracks of the competition are asked to apply by Feb. 9. More details about eligibility can be found at alliance.rice.edu/EVD.

“The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek bring together key members of the energy ecosystem, investors and startups to showcase innovations and emerging technologies that create value from the world’s transition to low-carbon energy systems,” said Jane Stricker, senior vice president at the Greater Houston Partnership and executive director of HETI. “We are thrilled to partner with our ecosystem partner, Rice Alliance, on this exciting event at CERAWeek and build on the momentum of the last few years.”

“In addition to the access to investors and awareness at CERAWeek, this is an invaluable opportunity to pitch in front of active investors, corporates and key players in the energy industry,” said Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance and vice president for industry and new ventures in Rice’s Office of Innovation. “The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek is a platform designed to foster innovation, collaboration and investment in the ever-evolving energy landscape.”

Learn more about this year’s pitch day here.

The Houston Energy Transition Initiative has added six new members. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

Houston organization names 6 new members working toward a low-carbon future

the view from heti

The Greater Houston Partnership’s The Houston Energy Transition Initiative welcomes six new member companies including, one executive level and five investor level. HETI members are champions in their fields, each creating innovative solutions for a sustainable and low-carbon future. Our members are critical to continue to position our region to lead the global energy transition.

Executive Member

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is one of the world’s leading industrial groups, spanning energy, smart infrastructure, industrial machinery, aerospace, and defense. MHI Group combines cutting-edge technology with deep experience to deliver innovative, integrated solutions that help to realize a carbon neutral world, improve the quality of life and ensure a safer world.

Investor Level Members

Eni Next LLC is a corporate venture capital company, created to integrate corporate research, with open innovation, enhancing the value of dynamic and innovative start-ups through early-stage financing and successive capital increases. Eni Next evaluates and invests in companies developing technologies with a lower carbon footprint for energy production, improved efficiency for our industrial operations and digital solutions.

Honeywell International Inc. invents and commercializes technologies that address some of the world’s most critical challenges around energy, safety, security, air travel, productivity, and global urbanization. They are a leading software-industrial company committed to introducing state of the art technology solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, sustainability, and safety in high growth businesses in broad-based, attractive industrial end markets.

Natixis Investment Managers is a global asset management company. Ranked among the world’s largest asset managers, Natixis delivers a diverse range of solutions across asset classes, styles, and vehicles. The company is dedicated to advancing sustainable finance and developing innovative ESG products.

Stantec is a global design and delivery leader in sustainable engineering, architectural planning, and environmental services. Stantec’s multidisciplinary teams address climate change, urbanization, and infrastructure resiliency. The company is at the forefront of innovations to enhance environmental and social opportunities. The Stantec community unites more than 26,000 employees working in over 400 locations across six continents.

Vopak North America is an independent infrastructure provider with an unrivaled network of 78 terminals in 23 countries and 25+ joint venture partners, connecting the supply and demand for products that are essential to the economy and the daily lives of people around the world. Vopak takes pride in improving access to cleaner energy and feedstocks for a growing world population, ensuring safe, clean and efficient storage and handling of bulk liquid products and gases.

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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.

Promotions, corporate ladder climbing, and other top mover and shaker stories on EnergyCapital this year. Photos courtesy

Movers and shakers: Top executive moves in Houston energy transition of 2023

year in review

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, EnergyCapital is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston energy transition. From new board seats to internal promotions, this year marked a big one for some of Houston's energy leaders. Here were the top five most-read articles covering the mover and shaker news of 2023 — be sure to click through to read the full story.

Global consulting firm names new Houston energy practice leader​

Alvarez & Marsal announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice. Photo via alvarezandmarsal.com

A top global professional services firm named a Houston-based energy leader amid industry evolution and regulatory changes.

Alvarez & Marsal, or A&M, announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice.

“I enjoy bringing together teams of people to solve the complex challenges facing companies today,” Johnson says in a news release. “I’m looking forward to working with A&M’s energy team to build leadership and capabilities to address industry challenges.”

Click here to read the article from November.

Houston carbon storage solutions company names new energy transition leader at pivotal time of growth

Graham Payne, the new director of energy transition at Caliche Development Partners II, is bullish on Houston. Photo courtesy

Graham Payne sees a bright future for the multibillion-dollar energy transition economy in Houston.

“It’s been said that Houston is poised, like no other city, to lead the energy transition. And I’d have to agree, because we have all the requisite natural resources, industry, and talent,” says Payne, the new director of energy transition at Houston-based carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) company Caliche Development Partners II.

Caliche and other Houston-based energy transition companies secured $6.1 billion in private funding last year, up 62 percent from 2022, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Click here to read the article from October.

Investment banking firm launches cleantech group, names Houston-based co-leader

Moelis hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Photo via rice.edu

A Houston investment banker has been tapped as co-leader of a new team at investment bank Moelis & Co. that will mine the energy sector for cleantech deals.

Publicly traded Moelis said September 7 that it hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Nazhad joins Moelis from financial services giant Citigroup, where he was managing director of its clean energy investment team. He worked at Citigroup for nine years.

During his tenure at Citigroup and, before that, Norwegian energy company Equinor (which operates a Houston office), Nazhad helped carry out more than $50 billion in M&A advisory activities and helped raise over $40 billion in capital for clients. He’s been involved in the rollout of more than 20 IPOs.

Click here to read the article from September.

Houston energy transition leader joins California company's board with investment

Bobby Tudor has joined the board of an energy tech company. Photo via Houston.org

A Houston business leader has taken a seat at the table of a San Francisco-based tech company.

Puloli, an IoT solutions-as-a-service company has announced an investment from, Artemis Energy Partners, a Houston group founded by Bobby Tudor. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With the transaction, Tudor joins Puloli's board of directors, bringing expertise from a storied career in energy transition from his roles at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. and the Greater Houston Partnership.

"Bobby brings a tremendous amount of credibility and energy industry insight to Puloli and complements what Jodi Jahic and Aligned Partners bring to Puloli," Kethees Ketheesan, CEO of Puloli, says in a news release. "Bobby's endorsement of Puloli solution will be a big boost in accelerating our growth."

Click here to read the article from July.

Energy exec to take the reins of the Greater Houston Partnership

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

A longtime energy executive has been named the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He'll take on the new role this fall.

The GHP named Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., to the position. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

Dr. Marc L. Boom, GHP board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the announcement at a press conference June 21.

“Steve brings incredible business acumen and leadership skills to the organization," Boom says in a statement. "Coupled with an extraordinary passion for Houston, he will build on the Partnership’s momentum to continue to advance greater Houston as a region of extraordinary growth and opportunity.”

Click here to read the article from June.

Jeremy Pitts of Activate joins the Houston Energy Transition Initiative for a Q&A. Photo via LinkedIn

Q&A: Houston organization empowers science entrepreneurs paving the way to a low-carbon future

THE VIEW FROM HETI

Founded in 2015, Activate Global Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that partners with US-based funders and research institutions to support scientists at the outset of their entrepreneurial journey by providing personalized expertise, tools, and resources that may otherwise be inaccessible. The organization recently launched its fifth community in Houston, and just closed the application window for the 2024 Activate Fellowship Cohort.

We recently connected with energy industry veteran and Activate Houston Managing Director Jeremy Pitts to learn more about how Activate is empowering scientists and engineers as they pave the way to a low-carbon future.

HETI: Activate was founded in 2015 and has established fellowship programs in Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, and a remote Anywhere Community. Why was Houston the next logical choice for an Activate Community?   

JeremyPitts: There is no doubt that Houston is going to be a major player in the energy transition, so it’s a logical place for Activate to be as we do our part to help bring ground-breaking technology out of the lab and deploy it to solve the world’s biggest challenges.

Houston is already the best place to scale a company working on the types of hard tech solutions that Activate focuses on. Houston has the talent, capital, and resources to build and deploy things at the scale needed to have a global impact. There is a good chance that many of our current Activate companies and alumni will end up in Houston as they pursue their scale-up plans. Activate alum Tim Latimer and Fervo Energy are great examples of this.

Houston is also an interesting fit for Activate as we believe we can fill a gap in the current ecosystem by providing support for entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of their journey. By providing funding and support, we can keep those entrepreneurs in Houston as opposed to moving to the coasts. We are hopeful that not only can we directly support a small number of the most promising entrepreneurs, but we can indirectly support many more by creating an ecosystem where early-stage capital starts to find its way to Houston to support these revolutionary and impactful technologies.

HETI: Activate Communities work closely with climate tech programs at leading colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley, U Mass Boston, and Columbia University. What can you tell us about Activate Houston’s plans for collaboration with area colleges and universities?

JP: Activate’s goal is to be as inclusive as possible. One of our main goals is to find fellows who we can have as big of an impact on as possible, potentially being the difference between whether they are successful or not. To that end, we plan to partner and engage with all of the research institutions across Houston and the surrounding areas. In just our first few months of being on the ground in Houston and recruiting for our first cohort, we have already engaged with Rice, UH, Prairie View A&M, TSU, Texas A&M, UT, and the Texas Medical Center. We have also begun outreach and preliminary conversations with institutions outside of the Houston area, like UT Dallas, SMU, Baylor, UTEP, etc. Our goal is to find the most promising entrepreneurs and the most impactful technologies that we can help and support, regardless of where they come from.

We will also be looking to engage with some of these institutions to make resources available to our fellows to support the research they are doing once in the Activate program. These conversations are in the early stages, but the facilities at UH Technology Bridge and TMC’s Innovation Factory are great examples of how the Houston ecosystem can support our fellows.

HETI: How do fellowships like Activate differ from traditional accelerator programs and why are they such an important component of the energy transition?

JP: Accelerators in general are a great resource for entrepreneurs to quickly learn the fundamentals around building a company and gain access to a network of investors, mentors, and partners that they would have trouble accessing on their own.

While Activate has a lot of overlap with accelerators in terms of what we provide, we classify ourselves as a fellowship and not an accelerator. The reasons for this primarily lie in the fact that we are a non-profit. This allows us to do a few things different from traditional accelerators. First, our program does not charge any fees or equity. Because our success is not tied to the financial outcomes of the companies, we are able to take much bigger risks in terms of the technology we support and we are also able to take a fellow first approach, as sometimes the best outcome for the fellow as a person is not the best financial outcome for the company. Second, we are much more patient, offering a full two years of support for our fellows and continuing to support our alumni community after they have left the program.

Activate’s unique fellowship program can play an essential role because many of the technologies and breakthroughs necessary to solve the world’s biggest challenges are really hard. It can take a long time to develop these technologies and often they are too risky and unproven at the early stages to be able to attract the capital they need to turn the technology into a commercial solution. Activate can support these hard technologies and provide a two-year safety net for our fellows as they work through those early challenges and progress their solution to a point that the private markets will support the business coming out of our program. We have been quite successful with this approach thus far, as the 145 companies we have created have raised nearly $1.4B in follow-on funding, representing a 23X multiplier on the funds Activate has directly deployed to support the fellows.

HETI: You’re the co-founder of Greentown Labs, now the nation’s biggest climate tech incubator. How does that experience help in your new role as MD at Activate Houston?

JP: The biggest takeaway for me from my time building Greentown is the power of community. Early-stage deep tech founders face monumental challenges. Having a community of like-minded individuals nearby who are facing their own similar challenges and serve as both a support network and a sounding board to help work through those challenges can be the difference between success and failure. I hope to leverage those learnings to really focus on Activate Houston being an incredibly strong community where the founders can lean on each other, and me, for the support they need.

In addition, Greentown also serves as a gathering place for bringing the larger climate community together, which is so vital in pushing forward the energy transition. In the early days of Greentown, those events happened on an almost ad hoc basis, as there wasn’t previously a place for people interested in climate to gather. Greentown has changed a lot over the years – the facilities are quite a bit nicer than where we started – but it has done an amazing job continuing to fill that role as the center of the climate ecosystem and bringing together a community of like-minded individuals. Anyone who attended the recent Greentown Climatetech Summit and experienced the standing-room-only crowds of passionate people can attest to that. Certainly, Greentown already fills that role for Houston and does it well, but my experience with the power of community will lead me to lean into Houston’s climate community and encourage our fellows to do the same, to be active members in strengthening the entire climate and innovation ecosystem in Houston. All boats rise together in the rising sea that is Houston’s climate and innovation ecosystem.

HETI: What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming launch of Houston’s 2024 Cohort?

JP: I’m looking forward to getting started – welcoming our first cohort into Houston and showing the rest of the country that Houston can hold its own when it comes to hard tech and world-changing innovation.

———

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.

A Belgian hydrogen company has expanded to the United States by way of the Houston area. Photo via johncockerill.com

Global hydrogen company makes U.S. entrance through Houston-area facility acquisition

coming soon

A Belgian electrolyzer manufacturer has acquired a facility in Baytown, expanding to North America for the first time.

John Cockerill Hydrogen announced today that its acquired a manufacturing space south of Houston that will be retrofitted to become one of the largest alkaline manufacturing facilities in the country. It's slated to deliver as early as the third quarter of next year.

“We are excited for the US launch, the first step in our partnership journey with North American businesses and stakeholders who seek to decarbonize and advance the energy transition,” François Michel, CEO of John Cockerill Group, says in a news release.

Expected to create 200 new jobs and produce one gigawatt of electrolyzers a year, the project is slated to deliver as early as the third quarter of next year.

According to the release, Chambers County's highway and barge access, storage and pipeline proximity, and other existing infrastructure were key factors for the company's decision. John Cockerill Hydrogen, which has an office in Houston already, reports that Houston's recent selection by the Department of Energy to be one of seven hubs to receive funding for hydrogen development was another part of the city's appeal.

“With an existing energy ecosystem comprised of competitive natural resources, a highly skilled talent base, and existing infrastructure, Houston was the natural choice for our entry to North America,” Nicolas de Coignac, president of the Americas for John Cockerill, says in the release. “We look forward to partnering with local and state officials, business organizations, academic institutions and other Houston-area stakeholders playing a part in meeting the ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and ensuring energy security and resilience.”

The company has a relationship supporting the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, per the news release, and plans to host a groundbreaking event sometime this year with local business, industrial, and community leaders.

“We are pleased to welcome John Cockerill Hydrogen’s highly anticipated U.S. launch to Houston,” Bob Harvey, president and CEO of GP, says in the release. “This momentous announcement — closely following the U.S. Energy Department’s selection of HyVelocity to develop a Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub – serves as a resounding testament to our city’s unrivaled status as the energy — and energy transition — capital of the world. With our exceptional infrastructure and top-tier talent, Houston is primed for exponential growth. John Cockerill Hydrogen’s partnership within our hydrogen ecosystem will be nothing short of transformative. Together, we will shape the future of energy and solidify Houston’s position in theclean hydrogen space.”

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Renewable energy company names two C-level execs to its Houston HQ

growing the team

An independent power producer based in Houston and focused on renewable energy projects has named two new C-level executives.

Urban Grid added two business leaders to its senior management team: Eivind Osterhus as CFO and Erica Engle as chief commercial officer. They will be based out of Urban Grid’s headquarters in Houston.

Osterhus has 20 previous years of experience including leadership roles at energy technology company Baker Hughes. Engle recently served as Head of Structured Origination at AES Clean Energy.

“Urban Grid remains committed to driving economic growth and sustainability across the local communities served by our portfolio,” CEO Pete Candelaria says in a news release. “Eivind and Erica exemplify the leadership, passion, and shared values necessary to continue delivering on this commitment. It is my great pleasure to welcome them both to Urban Grid.”

Headquartered in Houston with teams throughout the United States, Urban Grid is actively developing a growing portfolio of more than 12,000 megawatts of solar PV and 7,000 megawatts of co-located and stand-alone energy storage.economy. The company also has 940 megawatts currently contracted and under construction.

“This is an exciting time to join Urban Grid as they expand their presence as an owner-operator of renewable assets,” Engle says in the release. “I look forward to working with the team to commercialize the solar and storage portfolio, closely partnering with our customers to continue accelerating towards a carbon-free future.”

Houston geothermal startup reports 'dramatic acceleration' of drilling operations at Utah project

optimization station

Early drilling results indicate a geothermal energy project operated in Utah by Houston-based startup Fervo Energy is performing better than expected.

Fervo says its drilling operations Utah’s Cape Station show a 70 percent reduction in drilling times, paving the way for advancement of its geothermal energy system. Fervo began construction last year on Cape Station, which is set to deliver clean power to the grid in 2026 and be fully operating by 2028.

The company recently published early drilling results from Cape Station that it says exceed the U.S. Department of Energy’s expectations for enhanced geothermal systems. Fervo says these results “substantiate the rapid learning underway in the geothermal industry and signal readiness for continued commercialization.”

Founded in 2017, Fervo provides carbon-free energy through development of next-generation geothermal power.

Fervo began drilling at Cape Station, a 400-megawatt project in southwest Utah, in June 2023. Over the past six months, the company has drilled one vertical well and six horizontal wells there. The company reports that costs for the first four horizontal wells at Cape Station fell from $9.4 million to $4.8 million per well.

“Since its inception, Fervo has looked to bring a manufacturing mentality to enhanced geothermal development, building a highly repeatable drilling process that allows for continuous improvement and, as a result, lower costs,” Tim Latimer, Fervo’s co-founder and CEO, says in a news release. “In just six months, we have proven that our technology solutions have led to a dramatic acceleration in forecasted drilling performance.”

Trey Lowe, chief technology officer of Oklahoma City-based oil and gas producer Devon Energy, likens Fervo’s drilling results to “the early days of the shale revolution.” Last year, Devon invested $10 million in Fervo.

“When you operate continually and understand the resource, you dramatically streamline operations. That’s the unique value of Fervo’s approach to enhanced geothermal,” says Lowe.

Last summer, Fervo reported the results of another one of its projects, Project Red, which is in northern Nevada and made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google. That site officially went online for the tech company in December.

ConocoPhillips exec overseeing sustainability, tech set to retire

leadership shift

After decades at the company, ConocoPhillips's executive vice president of strategy, sustainability, and technology is retiring.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) announced that Dominic Macklon, who's been in his role for two and a half years and at the company for 33 years, has elected to retire effective May 1.

“I want to thank Dominic for his leadership, dedication and significant contributions during his distinguished 33 years with ConocoPhillips,” Ryan Lance, chairman and CEO, says in a news release.

“Dominic has played an important role in identifying and driving value from low cost of supply opportunities across our global portfolio while positioning our company for the energy transition and accelerating our emissions reduction initiatives," Lance continues. "I wish Dominic the best in retirement as he relocates back to the U.K.”

In his role, Macklon oversees the teams focused on corporate planning and development, global technical functions, information technology, sustainable development, and low carbon technology, according to the company's website. He previously worked on managing operations of the Gulf Coast and Great Plains business units, as well as land and commercial gas activities, finance, human resources and health, safety and environment.

A graduate of University of Edinburgh, his other leadership roles at the company include vice president of corporate planning and development, president of ConocoPhillips United Kingdom, and senior vice president of Oil Sands.

ConocoPhillips did not reveal any details on who is to succeed Macklon at this time.