Leaders across Houston shared their thoughts on the Future of Global Energy today. Image courtesy of HETI.

Just over one month ago, a major Houston drilling executive challenged the energy industry to embrace partnering to attain the sustainability goals of the energy transition. The sentiment echoed across multiple sessions held throughout Houston and broadcast virtually at today’s Future of Global Energy Conference presented by Chevron.

Read on for key statements made by leaders across the city at Day 2 of this three-part event, hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), and Center for Houston’s Future.

SESSION 1: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EQUITY

“My work over the past 20 years… has allowed me to connect with communities that live in the shadows of large industrial facilities,” says John Hall, CEO of Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).

“If energy companies, and the rest of the business sector, and government could come together… we have the opportunity, if we work innovatively and creatively to mesh all of those resources together, through a process of deliberate and thoughtful conversations, and engagement with some of the most disadvantaged communities in this state–we have the opportunity, without having to spend extra money, but through cooperative collaboration and solution building… not only achieve corporate goals, but uplift these communities.“

SESSION 2: BUILDING A WORKFORCE FOR THE TRANSITION

“We have to educate younger people that are coming into the workforce where the jobs are, and where the where the jobs are going to be in the next 10-15 years,” declares Tim Tarpley, president of the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. “We do not have enough young people coming into the energy space to [back]fill the folks that are retiring. And that’s a big problem.”

Tarpley continues, “Younger people don’t always feel like there’s going to be opportunities in this industry going forward. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There is tremendous opportunity.”

SESSION 3: INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY FOR THE ENERGY TRANSITION

“Being able to take technology from lab development to commercialization, crossing that barrier of risk–we have to do that as an industry and as a society,” explains Billy Bardin, Global Climate Transition Director, Dow Inc.

“Houston has a leading role to play in that, given the deployed assets, the expertise, the workforce development plans we heard about in the previous session with our academic partners. This portfolio of capabilities is ultimately required. At Dow, we talk about a decarbonizing growth strategy – where we want to decarbonize our assets but at the same time make safer, more sustainable materials that our customers need.”

------

“Partnerships are critical with earlier stage startups, but also partnerships on deployment are critical. When thinking about scaling up, and the challenges of scaling up, it’s really hard to find one company that can do it all,” says Jim Gable, President, Chevron Technology Ventures. “Every solution has to fit within the rest of the system. It’s not just one breakthrough that’s going to resolve the world’s challenges related to decarbonization or lowering our carbon footprint.”

SESSION 4: FUNDING THE ENERGY TRANSITION

“One of the vexing issues is the demand side of the equation,” posits Kassia Yanosek, Partner, McKinsey & Company. “We are in a different world today, where we have to think, ‘How do we scale new molecules?’ Green LNG, hydrogen and ammonia made from green hydrogen or blue hydrogen–we don’t have a deep market for those types of molecules. The challenge we are facing today, in addition to the supports on the supply side, is creating a market and demand for these molecules that cost more but also have a greener content.”

The convergence of green banking with evergreen experimentation in support of a growing green economy sounds like just the right shade of green. Photo by micheile henderson/Unsplash

Green banking meets evergreen R&D with recent MOU

MONEY + MATTER

The term “Energy Transition” doesn’t merely imply change, it demands it. And with change comes another kind of change–usually of the dollars and cents kind.

While many aspire to embrace more sustainable and cleaner energy solutions in their communities, the affluence needed to deploy necessary infrastructure often sits just outside of reach. Until now, that is.

With the rise of “green banking,” securing financing for the adoption of energy efficiency, implementation of decarbonization technologies, and broader provision of renewable energy is now more accessible. Funds at green banks, backed by a blend of public and philanthropic contributions, tap into the modern trend of crowdfunding to support egalitarian and climate improvement efforts.

However, green bank financing is structured with repayment of–or a return on–capital expected at the end of the term, meaning approval tends only to be granted to proven and established projects well past the research and development stage. Given the Energy Transition is, for the most part, still in its infancy, clearing such hurdles can be difficult.

But Houston is full of dreamers and doers; researchers and entrepreneurs eager to tackle the next big challenge. It would come as no surprise then, that Texas’ first green bank, the Clean Energy Fund of Texas (“CEFTx”), bucks tradition with a novel Memorandum Of Understanding (“MOU”) co-signed by the Houston Advanced Research Center (“HARC”) to finance efforts staunchly entrenched in R&D activity.

As the Energy Transition foothold grows, Houstonians are compelled not just to invest in green initiatives, but to drive them. Which only makes sense, considering the deep expertise in energy innovation led most recently by the Houston-area shale revolutionaries from Mitchell Energy. Established over 40 years ago by George P. Mitchell himself, HARC plants the seeds of transformation at the intersection of science, resilience, sustainability, and the environment.

Per the March 29 news release from CEFTx, John Hall, President & CEO of HARC says, “We are excited to join forces with the team at Clean Energy Fund of Texas as they drive green investment in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Our research expertise and experience in managing state and federal grants will be a true benefit to Texans.”

The recent MOU brings Energy Transition visionaries the capital necessary to explore, test, develop, and deploy innovative solutions from conception to maturity. Entrepreneurs at all stages of the business lifecycle are encouraged to apply for funding on the CEFTx website or connect with HARC at an upcoming event to discover how the two entities can take ideas from dream to reality.

“It’s an honor to work with the esteemed researchers at HARC, who have been studying sustainability for decades,” says Stephen Brown of CEFTx in the release. “Together we can be even more effective at kickstarting investments in solar power, retrofits, and other technologies that help create the green workforce of tomorrow.”

The fresh approach to funding set up by CEFTx and HARC positions new companies to succeed and enables existing companies to progress in the transition to a more sustainable #futureofenergy. It’s just the sort of sense that is needed to truly drive change.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston renewable energy developer teams up with global commercial real estate biz

collaboration station

Houston-based Catalyze, a developer of independent power systems, has teamed up with commercial real estate services powerhouse Cushman & Wakefield to expand installation of solar panels and battery storage technology at U.S. commercial and industrial properties.

The two companies say the partnership will help owners and tenants of office buildings, warehouses, and other commercial properties reduce utility costs, boost operating income, achieve environmental goals and ease stress on the power grid.

“This partnership marks a significant step forward in our mission to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy among commercial and industrial customers, benefiting both tenants and building owners,” Jared Haines, CEO of Catalyze, says in a news release.

The partnership will enable Cushman & Wakefield to decrease greenhouse gas emissions at facilities it manages for clients as well as its own corporate offices. The real estate sector accounts for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

“Our strategic partnership with Catalyze is a testament to our shared commitment to decarbonize the built environment by being at the forefront of the clean energy revolution,” says Jessica Francisco, Cushman & Wakefield’s chief sustainability officer. “Together, we are poised to advance the adoption of solar and storage technologies while driving down costs for our clients.”

In May, Catalyze announced that it secured $100 million in financing from NY Green Bank to support a 79 megawatt portfolio of community distributed generation solar projects across the state of New York.

Houston crews deal with disgruntled residents over power outages after Beryl

Houston, we have a problem

Drawn guns. Thrown rocks. Threatening messages. Houston’s prolonged outages following Hurricane Beryl has some fed-up and frustrated residents taking out their anger on repair workers who are trying to restore power across the city.

The threats and confrontations have prompted police escorts, charges in at least two cases, and pleas from authorities and local officials to leave the linemen alone so they can work.

Beryl knocked out power to nearly 3 million people in Texas — with most of those in the Houston area — after making landfall July 8. The Category 1 storm unleashed heavy rain and winds that uprooted trees and damaged homes and businesses along the Texas Coast and parts of Southeast Texas. State authorities have reported 18 deaths from Beryl. In the Houston area, some have been due to heat exposure following the loss of power, according to the medical examiner’s office in Harris County.

As of Tuesday, crews were still working to restore power to some residents.

“Linemen are our friends and are doing their job. Do not threaten them. I understand you’re angry and mad and frustrated, but let’s get through this together,” Mayor John Whitmire said during a news conference on Monday.

Houston police have investigated at least five cases involving threats made to workers and other employees, whether in person or online.

In one of these cases, police arrested Anthony Leonard, 38, charging him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities allege Leonard on Saturday threw rocks and pointed a gun at a group of CenterPoint Energy workers who were at a staging area.

Leonard remained jailed Tuesday. His attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

CenterPoint CEO Jason Wells said over 100 line workers had to be evacuated from the staging area on Saturday. He said such threats are counterproductive as crews have to be moved to safer areas, delaying their work.

“So many of our fellow Houstonians have addressed this situation with patience and grace. And I want to thank them. But unfortunately, there have been instances where either acts of violence have been threatened or actually committed against our crews that are working this vital restoration. This is unacceptable. The safety of our crews is paramount,” Wells said.

KPRC reported that a charge of making a terroristic threat has been filed against a woman from the Houston suburb of Baytown. The Texas Department of Public Safety alleges the woman made multiple online threats of murder, assault and deadly conduct against employees, including Wells, at CenterPoint’s headquarters in downtown Houston. The woman has not been arrested.

Chief Deputy Mike Lee with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said his agency has investigated a break-in of a CenterPoint vehicle and three cases where residents refused to let linemen enter their properties.

Ed Allen, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 66, which represents workers at CenterPoint, said in 42 years in this industry, he’s never seen a response like this where workers are being threatened.

Allen said he spoke to one crew that said while they were working in a suburban Houston neighborhood, several men stood across the street from them and held an assault type rifle in a menacing way.

“It is very disheartening to see the community that I’ve worked in and that I’ve dedicated my life to provide electricity to act the way they have during this event,” Allen said.

Crews on Tuesday told Allen they haven’t received any new threats.

“I hope it’s gotten better out there. Part of that I think has a lot to do with the fact that regardless of what anybody thinks, the restoration effort has gone really well,” Allen said.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, CenterPoint reported that less than 82,000 customers remained without power.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to CenterPoint demanding information from the company, including what actions it will take to reduce or eliminate power outages during future storms and how it will improve communication with its customers before, during and after a weather event.

“Texans must be able to rely on their energy providers to keep the power flowing, even during hurricane season. It is your responsibility to properly prepare for these foreseen incidents and work tirelessly to restore power as quickly as possible when it is lost. Anything less is unacceptable,” Abbott wrote.

In a statement, CenterPoint said it's addressing Abbott's request and that its work with officials and community leaders to increase the resiliency of the electric grid is essential in "creating and sustaining an environment in Texas where people want to live and build their businesses.”

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said the threats to CenterPoint workers and out-of-town crews only makes “it harder and longer to get your lights back on.”

“These folks are just here trying to help. Let them do their work and help us and tomorrow will be a better day,” Garcia said.

Energy giant announces deal retail company to bring EV tech to Houston malls

plugging in

Two Houston-area malls will be getting bp's electric vehicle charging technology thanks to a new global collaboration.

The global energy company will be bringing its global EV charging business, bp pulse, to 75 shopping facilities across the country thanks to a partnership with Simon Malls. Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. The company will install and operate the chargers at the two area sites.

The deal aims to deliver over 900 ultra-fast charging bays that will support most make and model of EVs with the first locations opening to the public in early 2026. Other Texas locations include Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, and Austin’s Barton Creek Square.

“We’re pleased to complete this deal with Simon and expand our ultra-fast charging network footprint in the U.S.,” Richard Bartlett, CEO of bp pulse, says in a news release. “The Simon portfolio aligns with bp pulse’s strategy to deploy ultra-fast charging across the West Coast, East Coast, Sun Belt and Great Lakes, and we are thrilled to team up with Simon so that EV drivers have a range of retail offerings at their impressive destinations.”

Last month, bp pulse opened a EV charging station at its North American headquarters in Houston. The company plans to continue deployment of additional charging points at high-demand spots like major metropolitan areas, bp-owned properties, and airports, according to bp.

“As a committed long term infrastructure player with a global network of EV charging solutions, bp pulse intends to continue to seek and build transformative industry collaborations in real estate required to scale our network and match the demand of current and future EV drivers,” Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas, adds.

———

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.