The conversation with Jason Beck of ZettaWatts offers a glimpse into the exciting world of energy transition.

For Jason Beck, a cleaner future is personal. That's why his company, ZettaWatts, is making clean energy more affordable and available.

In this Energy Tech Startups episode, we dive deep into the world of energy transition technologies with Beck from ZettaWatts. Jason shares his unique perspective on the evolving energy landscape, the importance of climate journeys, and the innovative solutions ZettaWatts is bringing to the table.



The conversation with Beck offers a glimpse into the exciting world of energy transition. As we move towards a more sustainable future, it's essential to stay informed and engaged with the latest developments in the sector.

Energy Tech Startups: What is ZettaWatts' primary mission in the energy transition landscape?

JasonBeck: ZettaWatts is deeply committed to enabling energy transition technologies to reach the market and improve their financial viability. The company's primary goal is to bridge the gap between groundbreaking technologies and the financial structures that support them. By doing so, they hope to accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy solutions.

ETS: You mentioned the importance of individual "climate journeys." Can you elaborate on this concept?

JB: Absolutely. A climate journey refers to an individual's evolving understanding and commitment to sustainability and climate action. It's a personal path that often starts with a growing awareness of environmental issues and culminates in concrete actions to address them. My own journey began with a realization of the pressing need for collective action against climate change. It's essential for everyone to embark on their climate journey, as it fosters a sense of responsibility and drives impactful change.

ETS: Houston is emerging as a hub for energy transition. What makes the city stand out in this regard?

JB: Houston's energy ecosystem is vibrant and diverse. Historically known for its oil and gas industry, the city is now embracing renewable energy and sustainable solutions. This shift is evident in the increasing number of startups, research institutions, and established companies focusing on green energy in the region. The collaborative spirit and wealth of resources make Houston an ideal place for companies like ZettaWatts to thrive.

ETS: How does ZettaWatts differentiate itself as a market maker in the energy sector?

JB: Unlike traditional bilateral markets, ZettaWatts operates as a market maker by aggregating demand and supply. This unique approach allows for instant diversification, reducing risks for both buyers and sellers. By acting as a central hub, ZettaWatts can efficiently match renewable energy projects with interested investors, streamlining the process and ensuring optimal outcomes for all parties involved.

ETS:  Decarbonization by 2050 is a significant goal. How do you see renewable energy playing a role in achieving this target?

JB: Renewable energy is pivotal in addressing the carbon problem. To achieve decarbonization by 2050, we need a comprehensive plan, and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro play a crucial role in this roadmap. I highly recommend the book "Speed and Scale" as it provides a master plan for this ambitious goal. With the right strategies and collective effort, I believe we can create a sustainable future.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click here to listen to the full episode.

Hosted by Jason Ethier and Nada Ahmed, the Digital Wildcatters’ podcast, Energy Tech Startups, delves into Houston's pivotal role in the energy transition, spotlighting entrepreneurs and industry leaders shaping a low-carbon future. Digital Wildcatters is a Houston-based media platform and podcast network, which is home to the Energy Tech Startups podcast.

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Houston logistics company works toward software solutions to energy transition challenges

offshore shipping

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now."

And, predictably, some of those waves are caused by new momentum within the energy transition.

"The energy transition has thrown up a lot of questions for everyone in the maritime industry," Costello says. "The regulations create a lot of questions around cost primarily. ... And that has created a huge number of opportunities for technology."

Fuel as a primary cost for the maritime industry. These cargo ships are traversing the world 24/7 and burning fuel at all times. Costello says there's an increased focus on the fuel process — "all with a goal of essentially reducing carbon intensity usage."

One of the ways to move the needle on reducing the carbon footprint of these ships is optimizing the time spent in port, and specifically the delays associated. Demurrage are charges associated with delays in loading and unloading cargo within maritime shipping, and Costello estimates that the total paid globally in demurrage fees is around $10 billion to $20 billion a year.

"These fees can be huge," Costello says. "What technology has really enabled with this problem of demurrage is helping companies drill down to the true root cause of what something is happening."

All this progress is thanks to the enhancement — and wider range of acceptance — of data analysis and artificial intelligence.

Costello, who says Voyager has been improving its profitability every quarter for the last year, has grown the business to around 40 employees in its headquarters of Houston and three remote offices in Brazil, London, and Singapore. The company's last round of funding was a series A in 2021. Costello says the next round, if needed, would be next year.

In the meantime, Voyager is laser focused on providing optimized, cost-saving, and sustainable solutions for its customers — around half of which are headquartered or have a significant presence in Houston. For Costello, that's all about putting the control back into the hands of his customers.

"If we think back to the real problems the industry faces, a lot of them are controlled by different groups and parties. The fact that a ship cannot get in and out of a port quickly is not necessarily a function of one party's issue — it's a multitude of issues, and there's no one factor," Costello says on the show. "To really make the whole process efficient end-to-end you need to provide the customer to access and options for different means of getting cargo from A to B — and you need to have a sense of control in that process."

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Oxy subsidiary secures Microsoft as largest-ever DAC carbon removal credit customer

major move

Occidental Petroleum’s Houston-based carbon capture, utilization and, sequestration (CCUS) subsidiary, 1PointFive, has inked a six-year deal to sell 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide removal credits to software giant Microsoft.

In a news release, 1Point5 says this agreement represents the largest-ever single purchase of carbon credits enabled by direct air capture (DAC). DAC technology pulls CO2 from the air at any location, not just where carbon dioxide is emitted.

Under the agreement, the carbon dioxide that underlies the credits will be stored in a below-the-surface saline aquifer and won’t be used to produce oil or gas.

“A commitment of this magnitude further demonstrates how one of the world’s largest corporations is integrating scalable [DAC] into its net-zero strategy,” says Michael Avery, president and general manager of 1PointFive. “Energy demand across the technology industry is increasing, and we believe [DAC] is uniquely suited to remove residual emissions and further climate goals.”

Brian Marrs, senior director for carbon removal and energy at Microsoft, says DAC plays a key role in Microsoft’s effort to become carbon-negative by 2030.

The carbon dioxide will be stored at 1PointFive’s first industrial-scale DAC plant, being built near Odessa. The $1.3 billion Stratos project, which 1Point5 is developing through a joint venture with investment manager BlackRock, is designed to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

The facility is scheduled to open in mid-2025.

Aside from Microsoft, organizations that have agreed to buy carbon removal credits from 1Point5 include Amazon, Airbus, All Nippon Airways, the Houston Astros, the Houston Texans, and TD Bank.

Occidental says 1PointFive plans to set up more than 100 DAC facilities worldwide by 2035.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demands answers from Houston power company following Beryl

investigation incoming

With around 270,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Houston area almost a week after Hurricane Beryl hit Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said he's demanding an investigation into the response of the utility that serves the area as well as answers about its preparations for upcoming storms.

“Power companies along the Gulf Coast must be prepared to deal with hurricanes, to state the obvious,” Abbott said at his first news conference about Beryl since returning to the state from an economic development trip to Asia.

While CenterPoint Energy has restored power to about 2 million customers since the storm hit on July 8, the slow pace of recovery has put the utility, which provides electricity to the nation’s fourth-largest city, under mounting scrutiny over whether it was sufficiently prepared for the storm that left people without air conditioning in the searing summer heat.

Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. In the Houston area, Beryl toppled transmission lines, uprooted trees and snapped branches that crashed into power lines.

With months of hurricane season left, Abbott said he's giving CenterPoint until the end of the month to specify what it'll be doing to reduce or eliminate power outages in the event of another storm. He said that will include the company providing detailed plans to remove vegetation that still threatens power lines.

Abbott also said that CenterPoint didn't have “an adequate number of workers pre-staged" before the storm hit.

Following Abbott's news conference, CenterPoint said its top priority was “power to the remaining impacted customers as safely and quickly as possible,” adding that on Monday, the utility expects to have restored power to 90% of its customers. CenterPoint said it was committed to working with state and local leaders and to doing a “thorough review of our response.”

CenterPoint also said Sunday that it’s been “investing for years” to strengthen the area’s resilience to such storms.

The utility has defended its preparation for the storm and said that it has brought in about 12,000 additional workers from outside Houston. It has said it would have been unsafe to preposition those workers inside the predicted storm impact area before Beryl made landfall.

Brad Tutunjian, vice president for regulatory policy for CenterPoint Energy, said last week that the extensive damage to trees and power poles hampered the ability to restore power quickly.

A post Sunday on CenterPoint's website from its president and CEO, Jason Wells, said that over 2,100 utility poles were damaged during the storm and over 18,600 trees had to be removed from power lines, which impacted over 75% of the utility's distribution circuits.