The Houston Ion District Investor Activation Program is open to accredited investors and free to join. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Labs has announced a new program to address inequity and unavailability of funding for early-stage climatetech startups.

The Houston Ion District Investor Activation Program is supported by a Build to Scale Capital Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, open to accredited investors, and free to join.

Participating investors will have access to curated startup introductions based on preferred stage, industry, check size, and more, plus access to information on startups and investor-specific newsletters featuring Greentown startups invite-only events.

"This program brings early-stage investors from Greater Houston into the fold, offering education on climatetech investing, channeling a pool of capital to young startups, and catalyzing a thriving climatetech investment ecosystem that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion," reads the email announcing the program.

Members will also get networking opportunities with fellow investors and leading climatetech startups, which includes investor roundtables. Sector Pitch Days, and more Educational workshops on climatetech investing run by Vinson & Elkins, and more will be made available. The new initiative is meant “ to strengthen Houston’s energy-transition ecosystem” according to a news release.

In 2023, Greentown Labs helped 87 corporate partners, and collaborated with over 70 Houston startups. Some of their members recently achieved success in their respective fields.

CeraPhi Energy acquired the business of Third Energy Limited, a former fracking company. Photo via ceraphi.com

Geothermal co. with Houston office acquires former fracking biz

m&a moves

A geothermal company with Houston ties has made a strategic acquisition.

CeraPhi Energy acquired the business of Third Energy Limited, which is a former fracking company, with plans to repurpose the existing wells into clean geothermal energy centers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is set to include subsidiaries like Third Energy Trading Limited, Wolfland Renewables Limited, Wolfland Utilities Limited, Third Energy UK Gas Limited, and 50 percent holding in West Heslerton Renewables Limited.

The assets are located in North Yorkshire U.K. and include eight well sites consisting of 12 former gas wells in a suspended state, 22.4 km of 6-inch and 16.6 km of 3-inch subterranean pipelines and a further 22.4 km of buried fiber optic comms lines.

CeraPhi, which has a Houston office in Greentown Labs, completed a commercial demonstration of its CeraPhiWell system in 2023 using the Third Energy KMA site.

The company's strategy aims to “de-risk the scaling and commercialisation of large-scale heat networks using boreholes down to a depth of 2km, reducing the space required for deployment of large-scale systems and increasing the extraction of thermal energy available for network connections,” according to its website.

“By using the inexhaustible resource beneath our feet using closed-loop technology we can access this energy anywhere with zero environmental risk, requiring no hydraulic fracturing, no use of water and providing enough energy within the next 15 years to solve our energy crisis indefinitely,” says CEO Karl Farrow in a news release.

Houston energy transition folks — here's what to know to start your week. Photo via Getty Images

Rice to open applications for clean energy program, Houston events not to miss and more things to know

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a roundup of events not to miss, a deadline not to miss, and more.

ICYMI: Clean energy networking and showcase coming to Houston in September

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. Read more about the inaugural week.

Rice's Clean Energy Accelerator to open applications for its next cohort

The Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator helps seed-stage startups from around the world developing clean energy solutions achieve technical and commercial milestones that accelerate development, establish market adoption, and expand their reach.

Applications for Class Four go live on March 4 and close on March 29. Rice Alliance is hosting an info session on March 5. More details on the program and registration for the session can be found online.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • Hydrogen networking at Greentown Labs is Tuesday, February 20, at 4:30 pm at Greentown Houston. Register.
  • The Future of Energy Across the Americas: Helping Lawyers Predict and Adapt — the 2024 Houston Energy Conference — is February 27 to March 1. Register.
  • CERAWeek 2024 is Monday, March 18, to Friday, March 22, in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Register.

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

Houston to host inaugural climate tech and energy-focused week

coming soon

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.

David Pruner, executive director of TEX-E, joins the Houston Innovator Podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

Why this organization is focused on cultivating the future of energy transition innovation

Q&A

David Pruner is laser focused on the future workforce for the energy industry as executive director of the Texas Entrepreneurship Exchange for Energy, known as TEX-E, a nonprofit housed out of Greentown Labs that was established to support energy transition innovation at Texas universities.

TEX-E launched in 2022 in collaboration with Greentown Labs, MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, and five university partners — Rice University, Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M University, University of Houston, and The University of Texas at Austin.

Pruner was officially named to his role earlier this year, but he's been working behind the scenes for months now getting to know the organization and already expanding its opportunities from students across the state at the five institutions.

"Our mission is to create the next generation of energy transition climatetech entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs — they don’t all have to start companies," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Listen to the show below and read through a brief excerpt from the episode with Pruner.


EnergyCapital: Can you share a little bit about the origin of TEX-E?

David Puner: There were a variety of factories that led to its creation, but the seminal event was a piece of work that had been done for the Greater Houston Partnership by McKinsey on the future of Houston. It showed that if Houston isn't careful and doesn't make sure to go ahead and transition with this energy expansion we’re seeing, that they’re at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs. If they catch the transition right and make the conversion to cleaner and low-carbon fuels, they can actually gain 1.4 million jobs.

It was this eye opener for everyone that we need to make sure that if the energy transition is going to happen, it needs to happen here so that Houston stays the energy capital of the world.

David Baldwin (partner at SCF Partners) literally at the meeting said, “listen I've got the beginning of the funnel — the universities, that’s where innovation comes from.” From that, TEX-E was born.

EC: How are you working with the five founding universities to connect the dots for collaboration?

DP: In the end, we have five different family members who need to be coordinated differently. The idea behind TEX-E is that there's plenty of bright students at each of these schools, and there's plenty of innovation going on, it's whether it can grow, prosper, and be sustainable.

Our main job is to look to connect everyone, so that an engineer at Texas A&M that has an idea that they want to pursue, but they don't know the business side, can meet that Rice MBA. Then, when they realize it's going to be a highly regulated product, we need a regulatory lawyer at UT — we can make all that happen and connect them.

At the same time, what we found is, no one school has the answer. But when you put them together, we do have most of the answer. Almost everything we need is within those five schools. And it's not just those five schools, it really is open to everyone.

EC: As you mentioned before, TEX-E started as a way for Houston to take the reins of its energy transition. What's the pulse on that progress?

DP: I spent the last decade building boards and hiring CEOs for all kinds of energy companies and there was the period I would say — pre-pandemic and a little bit into the pandemic — where not everybody was on board with climate change and the issue of carbon. The nice thing now is that’s fully in the rearview mirror. There’s not really a company of any size or a management team of any major entity that doesn’t fully believe they need to do something there.

The train has fully left the station — and picked up speed — on this whole issue of transition and climate. So, that’s been nice to see and create a lot of tailwinds.

Houston energy transition folks — here's what to know to start your week. Photo via Pexels

Houston biotech's new CFO, new Texas solar project, and more energy transition things to know this week

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a roundup of events not to miss, a new Houston energy executive to know, and more.

Big deal: Houston solar company acquires Texas project site

Aggreko’s Energy Transition Solutions division has acquired the 13 MW behind-the-meter solar power project site, and the company will oversee construction, own, and operate the facility.

“Texas is an attractive market for these types of C&I projects, thanks to its robust solar resource, ease of development, and an efficient ERCOT grid connection process for projects of this size," Prashanth Prakash, Aggreko ETS chief commercial officer, says in a news release. "This project serves as another example of how we help commercial and industrial customers meet their decarbonization goals.” Read more.

New hire: Houston sustainable biotech company names new CFO

Lisa Bromiley has joined Cemvita as CFO. Bromiley will work on spearheading capital markets, strategic positioning, and financial management of the company.

"We are thrilled to welcome Lisa Bromiley to Cemvita as our CFO,” Moji Karimi, CEO of Cemvita, says in a news release. “She joins us at an inflection point in our growth trajectory and I’m confident that Lisa's strategic financial acumen will play a pivotal role in driving Cemvita's continued success." Read more.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • Hydrogen networking at Greentown Labs is Tuesday, February 20, at 4:30 pm at Greentown Houston. Register.
  • The Future of Energy Across the Americas: Helping Lawyers Predict and Adapt — the 2024 Houston Energy Conference — is February 27 to March 1. Register.
  • CERAWeek 2024 is Monday, March 18, to Friday, March 22, in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Register.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Innovative Houston energy company opens orders for groundbreaking tech following successful testing

coming in hot

Houston-based Syzygy Plasmonics is charging ahead with the world’s first light-powered reactor cell for industrial chemical reactions.

Syzygy says its Rigel reactor cell has met initial performance targets and is now available to order. The cell enables a customer to produce up to five tons of low-carbon hydrogen per day.

Syzygy has completed more than 1,500 hours of testing of the cell to generate hydrogen from ammonia. Testing of the ammonia e-cracking cell began in late 2023 and is still taking place.

The company hopes to capitalize on market demand in places like Asia and Europe. Syzygy says importers of liquified natural gas (LNG) in these places are being required to seek low-carbon alternatives, such as low-carbon ammonia. Some of this ammonia will be cracked to produce hydrogen for sectors like power generation and steel production.

Syzygy’s technology harnesses energy from high-efficiency artificial lighting to e-crack ammonia, eliminating the need for combustion. When powered by renewable electricity, Rigel cell stacks can deliver hydrogen from low-carbon ammonia.

“The testing at our Houston facility is going exceptionally well,” Syzygy CEO Trevor Best says in a news release.

The company is now ready to deliver projects capable of producing five tons of hydrogen per day. By 2025, Best says, 10-ton installations should come online. A year later, Syzygy expects to graduate to 100-ton projects.

Last year, Syzygy received a major boost when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America invested in the company. The amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed.

In 2022, Syzygy raised $76 million in series C funding in a round led by Carbon Direct Capital.

———

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Report: Texas shines as top state for new solar, battery capacity

by the numbers

On a state-by-state basis, Texas will account for the biggest share of new utility-scale solar capacity and new battery storage capacity in 2024, a new federal report predicts.

The report, published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), says Texas will make up 35 percent of new utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. this year, followed by California (10 percent) and Florida (six percent).

In 2024, EIA expects a record-setting addition of 36.4 gigawatts of utility-scale solar capacity across the U.S., nearly double last year’s record-setting addition of 18.4 gigawatts. One gigawatt of electric-generating capacity can power an average of 750,000 homes.

“As the effects of supply chain challenges and trade restrictions ease, solar continues to outpace capacity additions from other generating resources,” the report states.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group found that Texas ranks third in the U.S. for residential solar power generation. Residential solar power generation in Texas grew 646 percent from 2017 through 2022, according to the report.

A February 2023 poll conducted by the University of Houston indicated that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Texas homeowners are somewhat or very interested in buying a solar energy system.

“Texas is already soaking up the benefits of rooftop solar,” says Luke Metzger, executive director of the Environment Texas center. “With federal tax credits in place to boost solar adoption in Texas, now is the time to lean in. Every sunny roof without solar panels is a missed opportunity.”

In addition to a spike in utility-scale solar, the EIA report forecasts Texas will lead the way this year in the addition of battery storage capacity, with the expected addition of 6.4 gigawatts. In second place is California, with an expected 5.2 gigawatts of new battery storage capacity. The two states will make up 82 percent of new U.S. battery storage capacity in 2024, says the report.

The federal agency predicts 14.3 gigawatts of U.S. battery storage capacity will be tacked on this year to the existing 15.5 gigawatts.

Overall, EIA anticipates solar will make up 58 percent of all new utility-scale electric-generating capacity this year in the U.S., followed by battery storage at 23 percent.