Microsoft is one step closer to its carbon-free goals. Photo via Getty Images

Microsoft has made a deal with a French energy company that will help the tech giant to reach 100 percent carbon-free energy in its Texas data centers by 2030.

ENGIE Energy Marketing announced this week that its reached an agreement with Microsoft "to provide renewable energy to cover the consumption of select Microsoft data centers in Texas." The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Microsoft continues to be a leader in the market for corporate renewable energy procurement and a key alliance for ENGIE in the Net Zero energy transition,” Ken Robinson, ENGIE's president and CEO, says in the news release. ” We are proud to help them achieve their ambitions, where many other companies continue to struggle. Our goal is to grow our 24×7 hourly carbon-free matching program in key markets with electricity generated from zero carbon energy sources including wind and solar.”

The tech giant has announced its plans to reach its goal of 100 percent of electricity consumption, 100 percent of the time by 2030.

ENGIE, which is headquartered in Paris but has employees based in Houston, provides energy supply solutions for companies ona decarbonization journey. It's suite of services includes asset management, risk management, and more.

“We are excited that this project has kicked off and will provide us meaningful insight into future hourly carbon free program design,” Microsoft General Manager, Renewables and Carbon Free Energy Adrian Anderson says in the statement. “We look forward to working with ENGIE to meet our 100/100/0 goals.”

KBR and Air Liquide are combining their efforts to advance the energy transition. Photo via airliquide.com

2 Houston energy companies team up for low-carbon ammonia initiative

howdy, partner

Two companies with large presences in Houston have partnered to provide low-carbon ammonia to customers.

Houston-based KBR (NYSE: KBR), an engineering services company, and Air Liquide, a have announced a large-scale low-carbon ammonia partnership that will offer KBR customers a more sustainable option through Autothermal Reforming (ATR) technology.

As far as the collaborative partnership goes, KBR brings its ammonia synthesis technology to the table while Air Liquide has significant experience with ATR for large scale syngas production applications.

"Our differentiated ammonia synthesis technology has been the preferred choice for decades, with complete solutions for blue and green ammonia and large-scale capacity ...," says Doug Kelly, KBR president of technology, in a news release. "The addition of ATR technology further complements our clean ammonia offerings as we work to advance technology solutions to decarbonize the world."

Michael J. Graff, executive vice president of Air Liquide Group, which has its United States headquarters in Houston, says in the release that the combined efforts will help move the sector on its its low-carbon transition. When paired with carbon capture, the new partnered solution will result in preventing 99 percent of carbon emissions, per the release.

"This further illustrates Air Liquide's commitment to sustainable development, supporting customers in industry and mobility to decarbonize their products and operations," he says. "This is a core element of our ADVANCE strategic plan, which inseparably links financial and extra financial performance."

According to the company, KBR holds about half of the market share of licensed capacity within ammonia technology, and has "has licensed, engineered, or constructed over 250 grassroot ammonia plants worldwide" since 1943.

In the future, Air Liquide and KBR have plans to contribute development of low-carbon hydrogen as a key enabler of the energy transition.

A number of companies have officially announced their plans to discuss the future with their investment community at the upcoming conference. Photo courtesy of jpmorgan.com.

Power, Energy and Renewables investor conference features numerous Houston-based companies

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Tomorrow, leading companies from around the globe will share their 2024 financial outlook at the J.P. Morgan Energy, Power, and Renewables Conference. Although Houston is best known as the Oil and Gas capital of the world, the city presents strongly at this broader financial showcase of companies spanning the entire energy value chain, with numerous presentations originating from Houston-based organizations.

Baker Hughes Company, Crestwood Equity Partners, EOG Resources, Excelerate Energy, HESS Corporation, Oceaneering International, and TechnipFMC are just a few of the companies that have officially announced their plans to discuss the future with their investment community at the event.

In advance of the event, Bristow, a leader in offshore helicopter and search-and-rescue services around the world headquartered in Houston, released investor guidance for the coming year and made available the accompanying investor presentation for preview before their speaking spot slated for 4:30 PM ET on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

Embedded in small print on the information-rich slide entitled, “ESG Highlights,” the company highlights continued efforts to embrace electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) and electric short take-off and landing vehicle (eSTOL) investment. To date, the company counts seven partnerships in this space – all amassed over the last 18 months.

eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft, touted as more efficient and faster than ground vehicles, could change the landscape for short-distance travel for a variety of industries, ranging from delivery services of both products and personnel to local commuting. (Perhaps the family vehicle depicted in Hanna-Barbera’s futuristic cartoon from the sixties, The Jetsons, isn’t that far off, after all.)

Will any of the stars of this week’s Paris Air Mobility conference, like the newly emerged MagLev Aero, recently acquired Wisk Aero, or very busy Eve Air Mobility, be counted amongst Bristow’s latest partnerships? Tune in tomorrow to the lower-carbon livestream option to find out.

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This article originally referenced Crestwood Energy Partners. The information has been corrected above.

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ExxonMobil revs up EV pilot in Permian Basin

seeing green

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin | ExxonMobilyoutu.be

Energy industry veteran named CEO of Houston hydrogen co.

GOOD AS GOLD

Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Q&A: CEO of bp-acquired RNG producer on energy sustainability, stability

the view from heti

bp’s Archaea Energy is the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) producer in the U.S., with an industry leading RNG platform and expertise in developing, constructing and operating RNG facilities to capture waste emissions and convert them into low carbon fuel.

Archaea partners with landfill owners, farmers and other facilities to help them transform their feedstock sources into RNG and convert these facilities into renewable energy centers.

Starlee Sykes, Archaea Energy’s CEO, shared more about bp’s acquisition of the company and their vision for the future.

HETI: bp completed its acquisition of Archaea in December 2022. What is the significance of this acquisition for bp, and how does it bolster Archaea’s mission to create sustainability and stability for future generations?  

Starlee Sykes: The acquisition was an important move to accelerate and grow our plans for bp’s bioenergy transition growth engine, one of five strategic transition growth engines. Archaea will not only play a pivotal role in bp’s transition and ambition to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner but is a key part of bp’s plan to increase biogas supply volumes.

HETI: Tell us more about how renewable natural gas is used and why it’s an important component of the energy transition?  

SS: Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a type of biogas generated by decomposing organic material at landfill sites, anaerobic digesters and other waste facilities – and demand for it is growing. Our facilities convert waste emissions into renewable natural gas. RNG is a lower carbon fuel, which according to the EPA can help reduce emissions, improve local air quality, and provide fuel for homes, businesses and transportation. Our process creates a productive use for methane which would otherwise be burned or vented to the atmosphere. And in doing so, we displace traditional fossil fuels from the energy system.

HETI: Archaea recently brought online a first-of-its-kind RNG plant in Medora, Indiana. Can you tell us more about the launch and why it’s such a significant milestone for the company?  

SS:Archaea’s Medora plant came online in October 2023 – it was the first Archaea RNG plant to come online since bp’s acquisition. At Medora, we deployed the Archaea Modular Design (AMD) which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to build our plants. Traditionally, RNG plants have been custom-built, but AMD allows plants to be built on skids with interchangeable components for faster builds.

HETI: Now that the Medora plant is online, what does the future hold? What are some of Archaea’s priorities over the next 12 months and beyond?  

SS: We plan to bring online around 15 RNG plants in each of 2024 and 2025. Archaea has a development pipeline of more than 80 projects that underpin the potential for around five-fold growth in RNG production by 2030.

We will continue to operate around 50 sites across the US – including RNG plants, digesters and landfill gas-to-electric facilities.

And we are looking to the future. For example, at our Assai plant in Pennsylvania, the largest RNG plant in the US, we are in the planning stages to drill a carbon capture sequestration (CCS) appraisal well to determine if carbon dioxide sequestration could be feasible at this site, really demonstrating our commitment to decarbonization and the optionality in value we have across our portfolio.

HETI: bp has had an office in Washington, DC for many years. Can you tell us more about the role that legislation has to play in the energy transition? 

SS: Policy can play a critical role in advancing the energy transition, providing the necessary support to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We actively advocate for such policies through direct lobbying, formal comments and testimony, communications activities and advertising. We also advocate with regulators to help inform their rulemakings, as with the US Environmental Protection Agency to support the finalization of a well-designed electric Renewable Identification Number (eRIN) program.

HETI: Science and innovation are key drivers of the energy transition. In your view, what are some of most exciting innovations supporting the goal to reach net-zero emissions?  

SS: We don’t just talk about innovation in bp, we do it – and have been for many years. This track record gives us confidence in continuing to transform, change and innovate at pace and scale. The Archaea Modular Design is a great example of the type of innovation that bp supports which enables us to pursue our goal of net-zero emissions.

Beyond Archaea, we have engineers and scientists across bp who are working on innovative solutions with the goal of lowering emissions. We believe that we need to invest in lower carbon energy to meet the world’s climate objectives, but we also need to invest in today’s energy system, which is primarily hydrocarbon focused. It’s an ‘and’ not ‘or’ approach, and we need both to be successful.

Learn more about Archaea and the work they are doing in energy transition.

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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.