EDP Renewables North America announced its CEO Sandhya Ganapathy has been named to CNBC’s inaugural Changemakers: Women Transforming Business list.

Houston-based female business leader named changemaker amid energy transition

leading lady

A Houston renewable energy developer CEO has scored a prestigious spot on a list of changemakers.

EDP Renewables North America announced its CEO Sandhya Ganapathy has been named to CNBC’s inaugural Changemakers: Women Transforming Business list. Ganapathy was recognized for ESG and ED&I Initiatives while helping to advance the clean energy transition.

The new list recognizes female leaders at companies and philanthropic organizations that have achieved impactful financial and business milestones.

“Thank you to CNBC for recognizing the leadership and groundbreaking initiatives the women on this list have achieved,” the company said in a statement on LinkedIn. “As our renewable energy market sector continues to progress and expand, we will need everyone in our industry to be a #changemaker to ensure #reliable, #costeffective, #homegrown energy is accessible to all.”

EDPR NA has developed 9.9 GW of renewables projects to date and operates close to 9 GW of renewable energy across North America under Ganapathy’s leadership. EDPR NA has won various ESG and ED&I-related awards including A Word About Wind’s ED&I Award, CohnReznick’s Gamechanger in ESG Award, Ally Energy’s GRIT Awards for both Best Energy Workplace and ESG & Climate Change Champion, Top Workplace in the USA and Top Workplace in Houston Awards, the Global Energy Transition Award for Excellence as a Community Leader. EDPR NA also made the Corporate Knight’s 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, and was also a finalist for S&P Global’s Energy Company of the Year Award for 2023.

Headquartered in Houston with 60 wind farms, 12 solar parks, and eight regional offices across North America, EDP is a top five renewable energy operator in the U.S. EDPR NA has developed more than 9,600 megawatts (MW) and operates more than 8,900 MW of onshore utility-scale renewable energy projects.

The full 2024 CNBC Changemakers list is available at cnbc.com/Changemakers.

The research outfit says North America leads global AI growth in oil and gas, with Houston playing a pivotal role. Image via Shutterstock

Houston rises as emerging hub for $6B global AI in oil and gas industry, per new report

by the numbers

Houston is emerging as a hub for the development of artificial intelligence in the oil and gas industry — a global market projected to be worth nearly $6 billion by 2028.

This fresh insight comes from a report recently published by ResearchAndMarkets.com. The research outfit says North America leads global AI growth in oil and gas, with Houston playing a pivotal role.

“With AI-driven innovation at its core, the oil and gas industry is set to undergo a profound transformation, impacting everything from reservoir optimization to asset management and energy consumption strategies — setting a new standard for the future of the sector,” says ResearchAndMarkets.com.

The research company predicts the value of the AI sector in oil and gas will rise from an estimated $3.2 billion in 2023 and $3.62 billion in 2024 to $5.8 billion by 2028. The report divides AI into three categories: software, hardware, and hybrids.

As cited in the report, trends that are sparking the explosion of AI in oil and gas include:

  • Stepped-up use of data
  • Higher demand for energy efficiency and sustainability
  • Automation of repetitive tasks
  • Optimization of exploration and drilling
  • Enhancement of safety

“The oil and gas industry’s ongoing digitization is a significant driver behind … AI in the oil and gas market. Rapid adoption of AI technology among oilfield operators and service providers serves as a catalyst, fostering market growth,” says ResearchAndMarkets.com.

The report mentions the Open AI Energy Initiative as one of the drivers of increased adoption of AI in oil and gas. Baker Hughes, C3 AI, Microsoft, and Shell introduced the initiative in February 2021. The initiative enables energy operators, service providers, and vendors to create sharable AI technology for the oil and gas industry.

Baker Hughes and C3 AI jointly market AI offerings for the oil and gas industry.

Aside from Baker Hughes, Microsoft, and Shell, other companies with a significant Houston presence that are cited in the AI report include:

  • Accenture
  • BP
  • Emerson Electric
  • Google
  • Halliburton
  • Honeywell
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Schlumberger
  • TechnipFMC
  • Weatherford International
  • Wood

Major AI-related trends that the report envisions in the oil and gas sector include the:

  • Digital twins for asset modeling
  • Autonomous robotics
  • Advanced analytics for reservoir management
  • Cognitive computing for decision-making
  • Remote monitoring and control systems

“The digitization trend within the oil and gas sector significantly propels the AI in oil and gas market,” says the report.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Rising temps could result in rolling brownouts this summer–unless we work together to reduce the strain on the electric grid. Photo via Shutterstock

NERC warns of summer energy shortfalls–what you can do now

THINGS ARE HEATING UP

The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) issued a warning with the 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment yesterday – energy shortages could be coming this summer for two-thirds of North America if temperatures spike higher than normal.

“Increased, rapid deployment of wind, solar and batteries have made a positive impact,” Mark Olson, NERC’s manager of reliability assessments says in the release. “However, generator retirements continue to increase the risks associated with extreme summer temperatures, which factors into potential supply shortages in the western two-thirds of North America if summer temperatures spike.”

For Texans, the combined risk of drought and higher-than-normal temperatures could stress ERCOT system resources, especially in the case of reduced wind. But before there’s a mad rush on generators, keep in mind, electricity consumers can take simple actions to minimize the possibility of widespread shortfalls.

Electricity demand begins rising daily around 2 P.M. in the summer and peaks in the final hours of daylight. These hours are generally not only the warmest hours of the day but also the busiest. People return from work to their homes, crank down the air conditioner, turn on TVs, run a load of wash, and prepare meals using multiple electric-powered appliances.

If everyone takes one or two small steps to avoid unnecessary stress on the grid in the hours after coming home from work, we can prevent energy shortfalls. Modify routines now to get into the habit of running the dishwasher overnight, using the washer and dryer before noon or after 8 pm and pulling the shades down in the bright afternoon hours of the day.

Try to delay powering up devices – including EVs – until after dark. Turn off and unplug items to avoid sapping electricity when items are not in use. And if you can bear it, nudge that thermostat up a couple of degrees.

Energy sustainability demands consistent collaboration and coordination from every consumer of energy. Let’s get in the habit of acting neighborly now with conservative electricity practices before we start seeing temperatures–of both the literal and figurative kind–flare.

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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.”

Houston organization celebrates zero waste goal

earth day win

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day

Texas hydrogen research hub opens to support statewide, DOE-backed initiative

hi to hydrogen

A Texas school has cut the ribbon on a new hydrogen-focused research facility that will play a role in a statewide, Department of Energy-funded energy transition initiative.

The Center for Electromechanics at The University of Texas, Frontier Energy, Inc., and GTI Energy celebrated the grand opening of a hydrogen research and demonstration facility in Austin as part of the “Demonstration and Framework for H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond” project, which is supported by the DOE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

The hydrogen proto-hub is first-of-its-kind and part of Texas-wide initiative for a cleaner hydrogen economy and will feature contributions from organizations throughout the state. The facility will generate zero-carbon hydrogen by using water electrolysis powered by solar and wind energy, and steam methane reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill.

The hydrogen will be used to power a stationary fuel cell for power for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and it will also supply zero-emission fuel to cell drones and a fleet of Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles. This method will mark the first time that multiple renewable hydrogen supplies and uses have been networked at one location to show an economical hydrogen ecosystem that is scalable.

“The H2@Scale in Texas project builds on nearly two decades of UT leadership in hydrogen research and development” Michael Lewis, Research Scientist, UT Austin Center for Electromechanics, say in a news release. “With this facility, we aim to provide the educated workforce and the engineering data needed for success. Beyond the current project, the hydrogen research facility is well-positioned for growth and impact in the emerging clean hydrogen industry.”

Over 20 sponsors and industry stakeholders are involved and include Houston-based partners in Center for Houston’s Future and Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy. Industry heavyweights like Chevron, Toyota, ConocoPhillips, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are also part of the effort.

Texas hydrogen infrastructure and wind and solar resources position the state for clean hydrogen production, as evident in the recently released study, “A Framework for Hydrogen in Texas.” The study was part of a larger effort that started in 2020 with the H2@Scale project, which aims to develop clearer paths to renewable hydrogen as a “clean and cost-effective fuel” according to a news release. The facility will serve as an academic research center, and a model for future large-scale hydrogen deployments.

Participants in the DOE-funded HyVelocity Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub will aim to gain insights from the H2@Scale project at UT Austin. The project will build towards a development of a comprehensive hydrogen network across the region. HyVelocity is a hub that includes AES Corporation, Air Liquide, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Power Americas, Orsted, and Sempra Infrastructure. The GTI Energy administered HyVelocity involves The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Houston’s Future, and Houston Advanced Research Center.

“H2@Scale isn't just about producing low-carbon energy, it's about creating clean energy growth opportunities for communities throughout Texas and the nation,” Adam Walburger, president of Frontier Energy, says in a news release. “By harnessing renewable energy resources to create zero-carbon hydrogen, we can power homes, businesses, transportation, and agriculture – all while creating jobs and reducing emissions.”