Here are three things to know about how the Inflation Reduction Act is driving a clear tech industrial revolution. Photo via energy.gov

In August of 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act which aims to mitigate inflation by reducing the federal government budget deficit and lowering prescription drug prices. Through federal funding and a combination of grants, loans, rebates, incentives and other investments, the IRA also will impact domestic energy production while bolstering efforts for an energy-abundant, low-carbon future.

At the bill’s one-year anniversary, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America held a panel of leaders across multiple sectors — energy, finance, industry and academia — to discuss the IRA and what it means for the future of business and industries.

Here are three things to know about how the Inflation Reduction Act is driving a clear tech industrial revolution, according to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries:

1. IRA Encourages Private-Sector Investment

Since being passed into law by President Biden in August of 2022, the IRA’s first year yielded:

  • Companies have announced 96 gigawatts of new clean power over the previous eight months, enough to power almost 20 million homes – about one-seventh the total number of homes in the U.S.
  • Companies have announced enough new U.S. battery manufacturing projects to support production of more than 10 million EVs per year – more vehicles than were manufactured in the U.S. in 2021.
  • The IRA’s expected impact on private investment has increased between 50 percent and 200 percent from initial estimates, based on research from the Brookings Institution and Rhodium Group, with the largest jumps related to hydrogen, carbon capture, energy storage and critical minerals.

2. A strong focus on environmental justice

According to a fact sheet issued by the White House, the IRA will: reduce pollution; improve clean transit; make clean energy more affordable and accessible; and strengthen resilience to climate change. With a simple mission to accelerate the energy transition with incentives rather than penalties, the act will allocate nearly $400 billion to efforts to reach a low-carbon, energy abundant future including:

  • More than 40 percent of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund ($10.8 billion) will benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities.
  • $3 billion for states, tribes, municipalities and community-based nonprofit organizations for environmental justice and climate justice block grants. Eligible activities include mitigating climate risks from heat islands and wood heater emissions, and reducing indoor air pollution; climate resiliency; and facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities.
  • $3 billion to reduce air pollution and emissions at ports via the installation of zero-emissions equipment and technology.
  • $37.5 million in grants to monitor and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at schools in low-income and disadvantaged communities along with another $12.5 million to provide technical assistance to help schools address environmental issues.
  • $33 million to the Council on Environmental Quality to collect data and track disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change on environmental justice communities in addition to $3 million in grants to deploy, integrate and operate air quality sensors in low-income and disadvantaged communities

3. Collaboration reimagined

As the race to net zero continues, tech giants and energy leaders across all sectors ––corporations, governments, nonprofits and academia –– have come together for one common goal: develop solutions to tackle the world’s toughest energy issues. When it comes to progressing the IRA, industry and Mitsubishi President and CEO Takajiro Ishikawa weighed in on collaboration for the act noting that “The energy transition can’t be done by just one party. Collaboration and communication between all parties is key.”

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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.

How the IRA is affecting clean energy project development, events not to miss, and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

3 things to know this week: Energy startups announce big wins, evaluating the IRA's first year, and more

hou knew?

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Three energy tech startups are celebrating big wins, experts evaluate the IRA's first year, and events not to miss this week.

Eyes on the IRA

How did the IRA affect energy transition project development? Experts discussed the positive impacts — as well as the challenges still to overcome. Photo courtesy of Renewable Energy Alliance Houston

August 16 marked one year of the Inflation Reduction Act's enactment, and many have taken this first anniversary as an opportunity to look back on its effectiveness and where it's fallen short.

For Carbon Clean, a United Kingdom-founded company, the IRA made all the difference in its expansion into the United States — by way of Houston.

"The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated for our industry, especially for point source carbon capture technology companies like Carbon Clean," Co-Founder, Chair, and CEO Aniruddha Sharma shares with EnergyCapital in an interview. "The momentum created by the law's passage, along with our existing activity in North America, led to the opening of our US headquarters in Houston in March this year. We will double our US headcount to meet demand for CycloneCC, our breakthrough, fully modular carbon capture technology."

At a recent event at Rice University, experts zeroed in on the effect on clean energy project development. While the IRA opened doors for new funding, it also revealed shortcomings when it came to permitting.

"The IRA for developers has been very positive. It provided certainty and allowed developers and investors alike to plan long term," says Omar Aboudaher, senior vice president of development for Leeward Renewable Energy. "With that comes challenges, including exacerbating some existing problems with permitting."

Energy tech startup wins

These three startups have something to celebrate. Photo via Getty Images

Three energy tech startups had some big wins last week — let's take a look.

  • Nauticus Robotics, a Houston-based tech company providing software and hardtech solutions for industrial and government entities, secured a $2.1 million contract extension with one of its biggest clients. Read more.
  • France-based Engie announced that it will acquire Houston-based battery storage startup Broad Reach Power in $1 billion deal. The company launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap Energy Transition, an arm of Houston-based private equity firm EnCap Investments. Read more.
  • Austin-based energy software company P6 Technologies closed a $3.25 million seed round of funding with support from a handful of Houston investors from GOOSE Capital, Artemis Energy Partners, Tupper Lake Partners, and Veritec Ventures. Read more.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

Mark your calendars. Photo via Getty Images

Plan the rest of your August accordingly.

  • 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 — 2023 Energy Research Day will be a showcase of outstanding energy-related research by University of Houston graduate and postdoctoral students. Sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate School, the event gives industries in the Greater Houston area a chance to see UH research up close and network with future collaborators.
  • 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.

How did the IRA affect energy transition project development? Experts discussed the positive impacts — as well as the challenges still to overcome. Photo courtesy of Renewable Energy Alliance Houston

Houston experts evaluate the impact of the IRA on cleantech project development

one year later

It's been officially a year since the Inflation Reduction Act was enacted, so it's no surprise that looking at the IRA's impact dominated the discussion at a recent industry event.

The second annual Renewable Energy Leadership Conference, presented by Renewable Energy Alliance Houston and Rice Business Executive Education, featured thought leadership from 20 experts on Tuesday, August 22. While some panels zeroed in on hiring and loan options for energy transition companies, the day's program kicked off with a couple panels looking both back and forward on the IRA.

When looking at the IRA's impact, the experts identified a few key things. Here's what they said at the conference.

Going beyond tax credits and regulation

Greg Matlock, EY's global energy and resources industry tax leader, kicked off the IRA discussion after John Berger, CEO of Sunnova, gave a keynote address.

Matlock set the scene for the IRA, explaining that previous legislation incentivizing clean energy changes mostly stayed within regulation and tax credits. Credits as a tax policy fail to incentivize organizations that are, for various reasons, are tax exempt or are already paying insignificant taxes. The fundamental switch of the IRA was to a "want to" rather than a "have to."

"Everyone has had aspirations, but with aspirations without capital, it's hard to get movement," Matlock says. "But what the IRA did was create a liquidity in the market and added access to an investor base. Now you're pairing aspirations and capital, and now you're seeing movement in the market."

The IRA, Matlock continues, also got the ball rolling on expanding requirements for tax incentives. Previously, a specific technology has to be clearly identified to be qualified for a credit. Moving forward, the IRA improved this qualification process and in the future, there will be be technology neutral incentives.

One thing Matlock also highlighted was the limitations of tax credits — dollar for dollar credit.

"Two years ago, if you called an organization that was tax exempt (about) a project that generates tax credits, why would that want that?" Matlock says. "For the first time, you can sell federal tax credits — not all of them — for cash and tax free to businesses who are paying taxes."

Explaining that there are limitations, Matlock says this process had a significant impact encouraging movement in this space — especially from surprising sources.

"We're seeing companies that have absolutely no connectivity to our energy industry making investments through the purchase of tax credits to fund the development of projects," Matlock says.

A focus on carbon capture and hydrogen

Matlock continues to explain how carbon capture and hydrogen became two case studies for the impact of the IRA.

Prior to the IRA, over 16 countries incentivized hydrogen production, he explains, and the United States was not one of them.

"With the signing of the IRA, we went from the worst to the first," Matlock says.

Carbon capture development was directed more at traditional energy industries. The IRA enactment represented a switch for these companies from regulatory moves to incentivization, which has been more effective in general, Matlock says.

Over the past year, according to the American Clean Power Association, more than $271 billion in investment in clean energy projects has occurred since the IRA was enacted. When it comes to jobs, over 170,000 clean energy jobs have been announced since the IRA.

Problematic permitting and pricing volatility 

In a subsequent panel, the three thought leaders looked at the IRA a bit more critically. While the IRA spurred momentum, it also shined a spotlight on some of the industry's challenges.

"The IRA for developers has been very positive. It provided certainty and allowed developers and investors alike to plan long term," says Omar Aboudaher, senior vice president of development for Leeward Renewable Energy. "With that comes challenges, including exacerbating some existing problems with permitting."

Aboudaher explains that the IRA-inspired burst of projects has caused a lot more permits for the increase of development. And, he adds, there's not a concentrated effort. It's happening in silos on the various levels of government.

"On the permitting side, there's a big need to streamline permitting," Aboudaher says. "In some parts of the country, it can take 6 to 10 years to permit your project."

On the investor side, it's also a problem, adds Fred Day, managing director of investments at Brookfield Asset Management.

"Even though we have this IRA, a lack of permitting reform does create a bottleneck," he says.

Another challenge is a disconnect between supply and demand. While the IRA has incentivized solar energy generation per hour of energy, meaning that its cheaper than ever to make energy via solar panels, there's not yet the demand infrastructure for this energy. This incentivization structure has already been in place for wind power.

"I think it's going to be a real problem. It's a real problem with wind today," Doug Moorehead, COO of Broad Reach Power, says, explaining that there's volatility in pricing. "When the wind is high, prices are really low. When wind is low, prices are high."

All of this is leading to an imbalance of market demand and supply, he continues. Jessica Adkins, partner at Sidley Austin LLP and moderator, adds that there's built in volatility for solar since solar energy is confined to the time of day when the sun is out.

"Any time you're incentivize to produce regardless of demand, it's going to be an issue," Moorehead says.

Aniruddha Sharma of Carbon Clean weighs in on his North American expansion, the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, and more. Photo via carbonclean.com

Why this UK carbon capture co. expanded to Houston, IRA's impact, and more

Q&A

Earlier this year, a growing carbon capture company announced its new North American headquarters in Houston. Now, the company is focused on doubling it's headcount before the end of 2023 to meet demand.

Carbon Clean, which has a technology that has captured nearly two million tons of carbon dioxide at almost 50 sites around the world, opened its new office in the Ion earlier this year. The company is now building out its local supply chain with plans to rapidly expand.

In an interview with EnergyCapital, Co-Founder, Chair, and CEO Aniruddha Sharma weighs in on the new office, how pivotal the Inflation Reduction Act has been for his company's growth, and the future of Carbon Clean.

EnergyCapital: Looking back on the past year since the Inflation Reduction Act was enacted, what has the impact been on Carbon Clean?

AniruddhaSharma: The IRA did much to jolt industry, incentivizing investment in carbon capture, while also telegraphing that the US government is getting serious about bringing emissions down. Overnight, the US became Carbon Clean's biggest growth opportunity: inquiries from industrial emitters leapt a staggering 64 percent.

The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated for our industry, especially for point source carbon capture technology companies like Carbon Clean. The momentum created by the law's passage, along with our existing activity in North America, led to the opening of our US headquarters in Houston in March this year. We will double our US headcount to meet demand for CycloneCC, our breakthrough, fully modular carbon capture technology.

EC: What does the sector still need to see — in terms of support from the government — to continue to move the needle on the energy transition?

AS: There's much to admire in the way that the IRA incentivizes business. While it involves billions of dollars of public investment, it is set up in such a way that companies must make substantial investments first. IRA funding doesn't arrive on day one — it comes over several years and to get to the first dollar of funding, a company must secure considerable private investment first. In other words, every single dollar of the IRA funding is unlocking additional private investment, creating high-paying jobs, and bringing manufacturing back home.

Of course, a lot of additional investment still needs to happen, and for some harder-to-abate sectors additional policy measures may be required to enable deployment at scale. The IRA is just a first step, but what a giant step it promises to be.

EC: You recently opened Carbon Clean's HQ in Houston. What's next for your company in terms of growth — especially here in Houston?

AS: We're experiencing phenomenal growth globally, but we expect our expansion in North America to outpace all other regions. In line with this, we've seen a surge in interest from industrials across the US and our newly-opened Houston office will help us to meet this demand.

We are establishing a very significant base in the US — doubling our headcount this year — and we are developing a local supply chain to support the commercialization of our breakthrough modular technology, CycloneCC.

The potential for CycloneCC in the US and Houston area is huge. It is optimised for low to medium scale industrial emitters and recent Rice University research on the US Gulf Coast, for example, found that it is well suited to 73% of Gulf Coast emitters.

We're currently working with Chevron on a carbon capture pilot for our CycloneCC technology on a gas turbine in San Joaquin Valley, California. We expect to be announcing additional carbon capture projects in the US in the coming months.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Houston company expands JV to build new power generation, storage assets

team work

Houston-based Conduit Power is broadening the scope of its joint venture with Oklahoma City-based Riley Exploration Permian.

Under this deal, the joint venture, RPC Power, will build power generation and storage assets for the sale of energy and related services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid for the bulk of Texas.

RPC Power, established in March 2023, owns and operates power generation assets that use Riley Permian’s natural gas to power its oilfield operations in Yoakum County, located in West Texas.

The expanded relationship will enable RPC Power to sell power and related services to ERCOT, with plans for 100 megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation and battery energy storage systems across facilities in West Texas. The facilities are expected to start commercial operations in 2025.

In conjunction with the expanded scope, Riley Permian bumped up its stake in RPC Power from 35 percent to 50 percent. Furthermore, it plans to sell up to 10 million cubic feet per day of natural gas to RPC Power as feedstock supply for the new generation facilities.

"Our JV expansion at RPC Power represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are proud to build upon our successful partnership with Riley Permian,” Travis Windholz, managing director of Conduit, says in a news release.

Conduit, a portfolio company of private equity firm Grey Rock Investment Partners, designs, builds, and operates distributed power generation systems.

Riley Exploration Permian specializes in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas reserves, primarily within the Permian Basin.

Elon Musk sees more resistance against his multibillion dollar pay package

just say no

A second shareholder advisory firm has come out against reinstating a pay package for Tesla CEO Elon Musk that was voided earlier this year by a Delaware judge.

ISS late Thursday joined Glass Lewis in recommending against the package, recently valued by the company at $44.9 billion but in January had a value of about $56 billion.

Shareholders of the electric vehicle and solar panel company are voting on the package, with the results to be tabulated at Tesla's June 13 annual meeting.

ISS said in its recommendations on Tesla's proxy voting items that Musk's stock-based package was outsized when it was approved by shareholders in 2018, and it failed to accomplish board objectives voiced at that time.

The firm said that Tesla met the pay package’s performance objectives, and it recognized the company's substantial growth in size and profitability. But concerns about Musk spending too much time on other ventures that were raised in 2018 and since then have not been sufficiently addressed, ISS said.

“The grant, in many ways, failed to achieve the board’s other original objectives of focusing CEO Musk on the interests of Tesla shareholders, as opposed to other business endeavors, and aligning his financial interests more closely with those of Tesla stockholders,” ISS wrote.

Also, future concerns remain unaddressed, including a lack of clarity on Musk's future compensation and the potential for his pay to significantly dilute shareholder value, ISS wrote.

Musk plays big roles in his other ventures including SpaceX, Neuralink and the Boring Company. Last year he bought social media platform X and formed an artificial intelligence unit called xAI.

Last week the other prominent proxy advisory firm, Glass Lewis, also recommended against reinstating Musk's 2018 compensation package. The firm said the package would dilute shareholders' value by about 8.7%. The rationale for the package “does not in our view adequately consider dilution and its long-lasting effects on disinterested shareholders,” Glass Lewis wrote.

But in a proxy filing, Tesla said that Glass Lewis failed to consider that the 2018 award incentivized Musk to create over $735 billion in value for shareholders in the six years since it was approved.

“Tesla is one of the most successful enterprises of our time,” the filing said. “We have revolutionized the automotive market and become the first vertically integrated sustainable energy company."

Tesla is struggling with falling global sales, slowing electric vehicle demand, an aging model lineup and a stock price that has tumbled about 30% this year.

Tesla asked shareholders to restore Musk's pay package after it was rejected by a Delaware judge this year. At the time, it also asked to shift the company’s legal corporate home to Texas.

Glass Lewis recommended against moving the legal corporate home to Texas, but ISS said it favored the move.

California’s public employee retirement system, which holds a stake in Tesla, said it has not made a final decision on how it will vote on Musk’s pay. But CEO Marcie Frost told CNBC that as of Wednesday, the system would not vote in favor. CalPERS, which opposed the package in 2018, said it will discuss the matter with Tesla “in the coming days.”

In January, Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick ruled that Musk is not entitled to the landmark stock compensation that was to be granted over 10 years.

Ruling on a lawsuit from a shareholder, she voided the pay package, saying that Musk essentially controlled the board, making the process of enacting the compensation unfair to stakeholders. “Musk had extensive ties with the persons tasked with negotiating on Tesla’s behalf,” she wrote in her ruling.

In a letter to shareholders released in a regulatory filing last month, Tesla Chairwoman Robyn Denholm said that Musk has delivered on the growth it was looking for at the automaker, with Tesla meeting all of the stock value and operational targets in the 2018 package. Shares at the time were up 571% since the pay package began.

“Because the Delaware Court second-guessed your decision, Elon has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years that has helped to generate significant growth and stockholder value,” Denholm wrote. “That strikes us — and the many stockholders from whom we already have heard — as fundamentally unfair, and inconsistent with the will of the stockholders who voted for it.”

Tesla posted record deliveries of more than 1.8 million electric vehicles worldwide in 2023, but the value of its shares has eroded quickly this year as EV sales soften.

The company said it delivered 386,810 vehicles from January through March, nearly 9% fewer than it sold in the same period last year. Future growth is in doubt and it may be a challenge to get shareholders to back a fat pay package in an environment where competition has increased worldwide.

Starting last year, Tesla has cut prices as much as $20,000 on some models. The price cuts caused used electric vehicle values to drop and clipped Tesla’s profit margins.

In April, Tesla said that it was letting about 10% of its workers go, about 14,000 people.

Things to know: $17.5B oil acquisition, new accelerator focuses on sustainability, and more in Houston energy

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 podcast episode with a biotech leader, a very big oil and gas deal, and events not to miss.


Big deal: ConocoPhillips to buy Marathon Oil for $17.B in all-stock deal

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion as energy prices rise and big oil companies reap massive profits.

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt.

Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. Oil majors put up record profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and while those numbers have slipped, there has been a surge in mergers between energy companies flush with cash. Continue reading.

Podcast to stream: Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast

Bioindustrial technologies have a high potential for impacting sustainability — but they tend to need a little bit more help navigating the startup valley of death. That's where the BioWell comes in.

Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, says the idea for the accelerator was came to First Bight Ventures, a Houston-based biomanufacturing investment firm, as it began building its portfolio of promising companies.

"While we were looking at various companies, we found ourselves finding different needs that these startups have," Estrada says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "That's how the opportunity for the BioWell came about." Continue reading.

Events not to miss

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

  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Argus Clean Ammonia North America Conference will take place on June 12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Over the three days of the conference, explore the big questions many producers are facing around where demand is coming from, expect to hear perspectives from key domestic consumers as well as international demand centres for clean ammonia. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.
  • Energy Underground (June) is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition that connect monthly at The Cannon - West Houston. Register now.