GE Vernova and Pattern Energy, two energy transition companies with Houston ties, are teaming up for a historic wind project. Photo via ge.com

A business to be spun off by General Electric will build hundreds of turbines for what will be the largest wind project in the Western Hemisphere, part of a massive equipment order and long-term service agreement with the global renewable-energy giant Pattern Energy.

GE Vernova, which recently became a high-level partner of Boston and Houston-based Greentown Labs, announced the agreement Tuesday, saying it is the largest onshore wind turbine order received by the company, both in quantity and in the amount of electricity that the 674 turbines will eventually generate when the SunZia Wind Project comes online in 2026.

GE Vernova will tap its factory in Pensacola, Florida, for the large order, as well as tower manufacturing operations in New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. Overall, 15 suppliers are on board for providing the necessary parts to make each turbine.

Construction already is underway on the SunZia wind farm and an associated multibillion-dollar transmission line that will funnel power to populated markets in the western United States. Pattern Energy, which has a Houston office, just weeks ago announced that it had closed on $11 billion in financing for the projects.

Backers see SunZia — described as an energy infrastructure undertaking larger than that of the Hoover Dam — as a pivotal project. The venture has attracted significant financial capital and stands to boost the percentage of the nation's electricity that comes from renewable sources amid escalating state and federal energy mandates.

Still, some Native American tribes and environmentalists worry about the location of a 50-mile (80-kilometer) segment of the transmission line where it will pass through Arizona's San Pedro Valley. The federal government already had approved the siting, but tribal leaders said there should have been more consultation.

In December, the U.S. Energy Department reported that the private sector over the past three years has announced investments of more than $180 billion in new or expanded clean energy manufacturing projects across the nation, including spending on development of larger, higher capacity wind turbines. GE has been among the companies to take advantage of tax credits included in the federal Inflation Reduction Act.

However, after years of record growth, the industry group American Clean Power expects less land-based wind to be added in the U.S. by year’s end — about enough to power 2.7 million to 3 million homes.

While companies are taking advantage of government incentives now, it can take years to bring projects online, the industry group said.

The SunZia Wind Project will span three counties in rural New Mexico. Crews already are constructing the concrete platforms that will support the turbines, and developers expect the first turbines to rise this autumn.

Pattern Energy CEO Hunter Armistead said the project will serve as a backbone for a cleaner, more reliable grid for customers across the western U.S. The company already has signed long-term power purchase agreements with Shell Energy North America and the University of California for a portion of the electricity that will be generated.

“Construction is in full swing on SunZia, using American-made turbine components and creating thousands of good-paying new jobs — a big win for the growing clean energy economy,” Armistead said in a statement.

Vic Abate, president and CEO of the company's wind business, called the venture historic.

“This project demonstrates GE Vernova’s ability to deliver on our workhorse strategy in onshore wind — producing fewer variants in large quantities at scale to drive quality and reliability across the fleet for our customers," he said in a statement.

In all, the company has more than 55,000 turbines installed worldwide.

The company has been working with Pattern Energy for the past 18 months on site layouts that are designed to maximize the performance of the turbines in central New Mexico and to ensure the supply chain can keep up with manufacturing demands.

GE Vernova consultants also have been working on interconnection with the transmission line, and the company's financial arm provided a tax equity loan commitment that helped to solidify financing for the project.

Pattern Energy, a California-based company with over 150 employees in Houston, revealed its new local office space. Photo courtesy

California renewable energy infrastructure company opens new Houston office

new digs

A company that's developing renewable energy projects has officially opened their new Houston office that will house its 150-person local development team.

Pattern Energy Group LP, headquartered in San Francisco, has moved its Houston operations into the Montrose Collective at 888 Westheimer Road. The new mixed-use complex developed by Radom Capital is home to restaurants, spas, and other retailers.

"We are doubling down on our commitment to Houston with an innovative new office that is designed to foster the collaborative nature of our work to develop some of America's most ambitious clean power projects," says Hunter Armistead, CEO of Pattern Energy, in a June news release. "Leveraging Houston's top-notch energy workforce has been an important component of our success and we look forward to tapping the City's talent base for our continued growth.

Pattern Energy, which develops and operates wind, solar, transmission, and energy storage projects, has a portfolio of 36 renewable energy facilities that have an operating capacity of nearly 6,000 megawatts across the United States, Canada, Japan, and Mexico.

"This new space will help foster the ingenuity of our dedicated employees and their passion for our mission – to transition the world to renewable energy," Armistead, who's based locally, continues.

Hunter Armistead, CEO of Pattern Energy, celebrated the company's new office last month. Photo courtesy

The company's development team is based in Houston and is currently working on the SunZia Transmission and Wind project in New Mexico and Arizona, which Pattern Energy describes as "the largest clean energy infrastructure project in U.S. history."

Also housed in the new office is the company's Operations Control Center, which provides 24/7 remote monitoring and control of Pattern Energy's renewable energy facilities. Other employees in the new space work on the meteorological, transmission, and energy trading teams.

"We chose the Montrose neighborhood based on our employee feedback," says Cary Kottler, chief development officer, who's also based in Houston. "To achieve our mission, we need to be energized – and Montrose has the vibrancy and atmosphere we were looking for. As we move forward with building a pipeline of truly exciting renewable energy projects, we are confident that this is the ideal location for our employees to write a new chapter in our history."

The new office lobby features a mural by local Houston artist DUAL.

The new office is in Montrose, a neighborhood that had the "vibrancy and atmosphere" Pattern Energy was looking for. Photo courtesy

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.”

–––

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.

———

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.