Navigating the energy transition is a relay race, and the baton is in Houston, says this energy executive. Photo courtesy of SCS

Earlier this month, a West Texas-based oilfield equipment provider announced that it was opening an office in the Ion Houston. It's all a part of the company's energy transition plan.

SCS Technologies, based in Big Spring, Texas, has a new strategy and innovation-focused office in the Ion, the company announced last week. The company, which provides CO2 capture measurement and methane vapor recovery equipment for the energy, industrial, and environmental sectors, also announced René Vandersalm as the new COO.

These are just the latest moves for the company as the world moves away from hydrocarbons and toward a greener future, CEO Cody Johnson tells EnergyCapital, explaining that he recognizes Houston has a role in the energy transition.

"This is a relay race – a race that has already started," he says. "Houston is the place where the baton will be handed off – it’s the place where the race is occurring. SCS Technologies is determined to be part of this solution dreamed of and planned in Houston and then executed in the Permian Basin, where we call home."

In an interview with EnergyCapital, Johnson weighs in on the new office and the future of his company.

EnergyCapital: How has SCS’s business evolved amid the energy transition?

CodyJohnson: SCS Technologies was founded to design and fabricate customized Lease Automated Custody Transfer units in the Permian Basin. These LACT units were used primarily to measure the quality and quantity of crude oil at all points of custody transfer. Essentially, SCS Technologies produced the premier "crude cash registers" for the Permian Basin.

As the oil and gas industry has adapted into the energy transition industry, our customers and the communities we operate in have a growing need for SCS Technologies to use our design and fabrication of measurement skids to measure the quality and quantity of CO2 or to design and fabricate methane — and other vent gases — Vapor Recovery Units. SCS Technologies’ design and fabrication expertise in measurement skids, pump skids, and compression skids, coupled with our Permian Basin based training and fabrication campus, ideally positioned us to answer the call to fill the expertise and capacity gap.

EC: How are you preparing for the future of energy?

CJ: Society has been powered for the past 100 years or so by the management of hydrocarbon molecules. The essential tools for that have been and continue to be oil rigs, pipelines, and refineries in large part. This has given society many benefits but at a price to the environment that isn’t sustainable. Over the next 50 years, society will complete a transition away from managing hydrocarbon molecules and towards managing electrons. Those electrons are created by wind, solar, geothermal, or nuclear processes and travel down copper wires. Managing this transition that is already occurring and working together to do it in the near-term future of energy.

As we execute this transition over the next several decades from managing molecules to managing electrons to provide energy, molecule management companies must find ways to reach net zero emissions in their management practices. This means primarily capturing and managing methane vapors and capturing and sequestering CO2. This is starting in 2023 in a meaningful way and needs to continue past 2030 and probably past 2050 to have any chance to meet the globally shared social goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and stay below a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees C in global temperatures.

The clock is ticking, and we are behind. The largest molecule management infrastructure investment in history must happen for us to reach these goals. It's mission-critical as one of the three things we simply cannot fail at to achieve net zero by 2050. SCS Technologies is very focused on being an intentional part of the tremendous supply chain buildout to support the infrastructure buildout.

EC: How does the new office in the Ion support these plans?


CJ: SCS Technologies needs to collaborate with the brightest minds working on the energy transition challenges. To contribute meaningfully to the overall effort and to be the thought leader in the methane vapor recovery and CO2 compression and measurement niche, we need to be at the heart of the energy transition collaboration community. That beating heart is the Ion in Houston.

EC: What role does your new COO, René Vandersalm, play in SCS evolving with the energy transition?


CJ: René is a proven executive in growing mission-critical design and fabrication capacity without sacrificing quality. René’s experience, capabilities, and global network will play a key role in our path forward.

EC: Based in West Texas, SCS has a growing presence in Houston. Why do you see Houston as a leader in the energy transition?

CJ: West Texas has an amazing group of oil and gas professionals and infrastructure. We are proud of that heritage and will always maintain our roots and foundation there. Houston has the only community of engineers, scientists, universities, companies, investors, and key professional service providers that can deliver on the buildout of the molecule management infrastructure required to buy the electron management infrastructure folks time to transition fully to green energy after 2050.

This is a relay race – a race that has already started. Houston is the place where the baton will be handed off – it’s the place where the race is occurring. SCS Technologies is determined to be part of this solution dreamed of and planned in Houston and then executed in the Permian Basin, where we call home.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”