University of Houston gets new funding, events not to miss, and more things to know this week. Photo via UH.edu

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Baker Hughes makes headlines, a new energy innovation leader has been named, and three events to add to your August calendar.

Baker Hughes's energy transition moves

Last week, if you were reading EnergyCapital carefully, you may have noticed two different stories from Houston-based Baker Hughes.

The Baker Hughes Foundation granted $100,000 to the University of Houston Energy Transition Institute. The funding will work towards the ETI’s goals to support workforce development programs, and environmental justice research. UH's ETI launched a year ago through a $10 million grant from Shell USA Inc. and Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc. Read more.

Also last week, Baker Hughes announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Virginia-based Avports. The agreement is "to develop, implement and operate onsite microgrid solutions for the airport industry," according to a news release from Baker Hughes, with a goal of reducing emissions and work toward a future with zero-emission infrastructure, including buildings, vehicles, etc.

"Baker Hughes' commitment to emissions reductions has allowed us to develop and successfully deploy low-carbon and hydrogen technologies to advance the energy transition in many industries," Bob Perez, vice president of project development at Baker Hughes, says in a statement. "The opportunity to bring these solutions to airports, in collaboration with Avports' proven track record in airport management, is very promising as the increasing needs and demands of these infrastructures must be more resilient, efficient and cost-effective." Read more.

Person to know: Timmeko Moore Love

Greentown Labs has named its inaugural Greentown Houston general manager. The climatetech incubator named Timmeko Moore Love to the role last week.

“Greentown Labs is committed to ensuring founders’ success and is an agent of action in the fight against climate change,” says Love in the release. “I am excited to continue my service to the Greater Houston climate innovation ecosystem through this esteemed platform, and partner internally and externally to evolve and expand our services and programs.” Read more.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

It's a slow week for energy transition events, but here are three later this month you need to know about.

  • August 22-23 — SPE Energy Transition Symposium's goal is to deliver a prominent and dedicated energy transition event by collecting and disseminating the knowledge from industry leaders, technical experts, academicians, practitioners, financial community and ESG leaders, and together through collaboration, advance the conversations, technology and exchanges that will move our industry forward.
  • August 28-30 — Industrial IMMERSIVE Week attracts the most industrial, energy, and engineering tech professionals making investment, strategy and tactical decisions, or building, scaling and executing pioneering XR/3D/Simulations, digital twin, reality capture, edge /spatial computing, AI/ML, connected workforce & IIoT projects within their enterprise.
  • August 30-31 — Carbon & ESG Strategies Conference, presented by Hart Energy, will highlight carbon capture and storage projects and technologies onshore and offshore, direct air capture, enhanced oil recovery, responsibly sourced gas, renewable natural gas, federal funding challenges and insurance issues, ESG initiatives, regulatory concerns and much more.

The University of Houston is hosting an open house to introduce its Seismic Data Center. Photo courtesy of UH

Can’t-miss Houston energy event: UH-DGH Center for Hydrocarbon Exploration Symposium

where to be

The University of Houston is hosting a morning full of thought leadership and networking in partnership with the Directorate General Hydrocarbon (DGH), the technical arm of the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, to showcase the new UH Seismic Data Center.

When: Friday, July 7, from 9 am to noon.

Where: UH Technology Bridge, Building 9, Room 135. 5000 Gulf Freeway Houston, TX 77204

Who: Industry and academic leaders

Learn more and register.

The UH Seismic Data Center, which was announced earlier this year, was established via a five-year agreement between UH and DGH. The center aims to generate reliable information on the energy industry — including seismic, well, reservoir and production data.

“This MoU is essentially an agreement to spur collaboration and combine the strengths of the involved parties for greater good,” Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president of energy and innovation at UH, said in a February news release announcing the partnership. “UH is in Houston, the Energy Capital of the World and the DGH has this wonderful wealth of information in its National Data Repository.

"By working together, we will maximize the potential of this important data and it will serve as an excellent research foundation,” he continued.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”