Urban Grid added two to its senior management team: Eivind Osterhus as CFO and Erica Engle as chief commercial officer. They will be based out of Urban Grid’s headquarters in Houston. Photos courtesy of Urban Grid

An independent power producer based in Houston and focused on renewable energy projects has named two new C-level executives.

Urban Grid added two business leaders to its senior management team: Eivind Osterhus as CFO and Erica Engle as chief commercial officer. They will be based out of Urban Grid’s headquarters in Houston.

Osterhus has 20 previous years of experience including leadership roles at energy technology company Baker Hughes. Engle recently served as Head of Structured Origination at AES Clean Energy.

“Urban Grid remains committed to driving economic growth and sustainability across the local communities served by our portfolio,” CEO Pete Candelaria says in a news release. “Eivind and Erica exemplify the leadership, passion, and shared values necessary to continue delivering on this commitment. It is my great pleasure to welcome them both to Urban Grid.”

Headquartered in Houston with teams throughout the United States, Urban Grid is actively developing a growing portfolio of more than 12,000 megawatts of solar PV and 7,000 megawatts of co-located and stand-alone energy storage.economy. The company also has 940 megawatts currently contracted and under construction.

“This is an exciting time to join Urban Grid as they expand their presence as an owner-operator of renewable assets,” Engle says in the release. “I look forward to working with the team to commercialize the solar and storage portfolio, closely partnering with our customers to continue accelerating towards a carbon-free future.”

The new supercomputer is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful owned by an enterprise. Photo courtesy of HPE

Houston tech co. to build powerful supercomputer for global energy business to help reach net-zero goals

getting upgraded

A Houston tech company is building a next-generation supercomputer for one of the world’s largest energy providers.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced its plans to build HPC6 for Italian energy company Eni. Eni will use the system to advance scientific discovery and engineering toward accelerating innovation in energy transition to help aid its goal in getting to net zero. HPC6 is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers owned by an enterprise.

HPC6 will be built with the same innovations that power the world’s fastest supercomputer to support data and image-intensive workloads across artificial intelligence, modeling, and simulation. According to a news release from HPE, the system will “augment Eni’s existing research that is focused on studying and identifying new energy sources, including renewable energy.”

Eni’s HPC6 will be installed in the company’s energy Green Data Center in Italy. The center will be upgraded to support HPE’s direct liquid-cooling (DLC) capabilities.

"Businesses are finding themselves balancing the huge business opportunities enabled by their AI investments with the responsibility of mitigating the environmental impact of these powerful systems," Antonio Neri, president and CEO of HPE, says in a news release.

"As the leader in developing energy efficient AI and supercomputing solutions, HPE is uniquely positioned to help organizations minimize power consumption while maximizing business outcomes," he continues. "We are excited to play a role in Eni’s commitment to decarbonization supported by digitalization and innovation."

Originally announced in 2020, HPE moved its headquarters to Houston in 2022.

The facility will provide hundreds of jobs with an expected daily output of up to 3,000 barrels per stream that uses both renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. Photo via Getty Images

Houston renewable energy company taps 2 industry partners for project

teaming up

A Houston company that's working on a major alternative energy facility in Texas has named two new partners on the project.

Santa Maria Renewable Resources has selected Topsoe as its technology provider, and executed license and engineering agreements, as well as partnered with an engineering firm for its East Texas facility.

The licenses encompass innovations like HydroflexTM and H2bridgeTM technologies. Topsoe’s HydroFlex process layout combined with the H2bridge lower carbon intensity of renewable fuels , and offers greenhouse gas emission savings. The process is part of a sustainable agriculture project currently in development by SMRR in East Texas.

The facility will provide 600 to 700 construction jobs and 300-plus permanent operating employment positions with an expected daily output of up to 3,000 barrels per stream that uses both renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. The demand for RD and SAF grows,and the aviation industry aims to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

SMRR has also partnered with Chemex Global to commence the front-end engineering design for the facility in East Texas.

“The collaboration with Topsoe and Chemex Global marks a significant company milestone, amplifying the potential of our project,” says Pat Sanchez, founder and CEO of SMRR, in a news release. “The incorporation of these licenses, complemented by tailored engineering insights from both organizations will seamlessly integrate into our ongoing front end engineering design. We’re pleased to collaborate with these industry experts ensuring the smooth progression on this project.”

SMRR is a vertically integrated renewable energy, and biobased production developer.

This new Texas wind farm is now partly powering Target Corp. Photo via swiftcurrentenergy.com

Central Texas wind energy facility goes online to power Target Corp.

up and running

A Texas wind energy project has officially delivered and is actively providing power to its customer, Target Corp.

Boston-based Swift Current Energy, which has an office in Houston, announced this week that its 197 MW Castle Gap Wind project is operational. It has the capacity to create enough pollution-free energy to power more than 50,000 homes annually.

"Castle Gap Wind is a momentous project for Swift Current Energy as we grow our projects under asset management and operations," Eric Lammers, CEO and co-founder of Swift Current Energy, says in a news release. "Castle Gap Wind is one of the earliest projects supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, and we are thankful for our partners at Target, Goldman Sachs, MUFG, CaixaBank and of course the entire Swift Current Energy team who helped make the Project possible."

Goldman Sachs provided the tax equity for the project, and Target and Swift Current have established long-term virtual power purchase agreement. Additionally, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, or MUFG, and CaixaBank provided project financing.

"Goldman Sachs is pleased to partner with Swift Current Energy on their Castle Gap Wind project," Ryan Newman, head of Tax Equity at Goldman Sachs, says in the release. "Goldman Sachs is committed to financing the energy transition and supporting sponsors like Swift Current that are developing sustainable infrastructure in an effort to combat climate change."

The project is located in the Mills and Lampasas Counties, which are around 90 miles northwest of Austin.

"This Castle Gap Wind contract is a part of our commitment to renewable energy and is one example of how we are leveraging our size and scale to benefit people, the planet and drive our business forward," Erin Tyler, Target's vice president of property management, says in the release.

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Houston geothermal startup reports 'dramatic acceleration' of drilling operations at Utah project

optimization station

Early drilling results indicate a geothermal energy project operated in Utah by Houston-based startup Fervo Energy is performing better than expected.

Fervo says its drilling operations Utah’s Cape Station show a 70 percent reduction in drilling times, paving the way for advancement of its geothermal energy system. Fervo began construction last year on Cape Station, which is set to deliver clean power to the grid in 2026 and be fully operating by 2028.

The company recently published early drilling results from Cape Station that it says exceed the U.S. Department of Energy’s expectations for enhanced geothermal systems. Fervo says these results “substantiate the rapid learning underway in the geothermal industry and signal readiness for continued commercialization.”

Founded in 2017, Fervo provides carbon-free energy through development of next-generation geothermal power.

Fervo began drilling at Cape Station, a 400-megawatt project in southwest Utah, in June 2023. Over the past six months, the company has drilled one vertical well and six horizontal wells there. The company reports that costs for the first four horizontal wells at Cape Station fell from $9.4 million to $4.8 million per well.

“Since its inception, Fervo has looked to bring a manufacturing mentality to enhanced geothermal development, building a highly repeatable drilling process that allows for continuous improvement and, as a result, lower costs,” Tim Latimer, Fervo’s co-founder and CEO, says in a news release. “In just six months, we have proven that our technology solutions have led to a dramatic acceleration in forecasted drilling performance.”

Trey Lowe, chief technology officer of Oklahoma City-based oil and gas producer Devon Energy, likens Fervo’s drilling results to “the early days of the shale revolution.” Last year, Devon invested $10 million in Fervo.

“When you operate continually and understand the resource, you dramatically streamline operations. That’s the unique value of Fervo’s approach to enhanced geothermal,” says Lowe.

Last summer, Fervo reported the results of another one of its projects, Project Red, which is in northern Nevada and made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google. That site officially went online for the tech company in December.

Houston to host inaugural climate tech and energy-focused week

coming soon

Three organizations are teaming up to put on a week of programming and events focused on energy and climate startups.

Greentown Labs, Halliburton Labs, and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship have announced Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week 2024 taking place September 9 to 13.

“These organizations will execute events that will serve as a launching pad for an Energy and Climate Startup Week in Houston, showcasing the city as a national hub for the energy future,” Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance, says in the release. “We welcome the community to bring other energy and climate events to the week, which we’ll cross-promote as the dates approach.”

The week will assemble investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the energy industry and from around the world to showcase Houston's growing sustainable, low-carbon energy future.

The initiative is in collaboration with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, an initiative of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as Activate, Digital Wildcatters, Renewable Energy Alliance Houston, and TEX-E.

“As the energy capital and one of the most diverse cities in the world, Houston stands as a center point for these solutions. The region is welcoming, diverse and has the know-how to play a critical role in building an energy abundant, low-carbon future," Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI and senior vice president at GHP, says in the release. "We welcome all who want to be part of the solution to join for this exciting, inaugural week of events.”

Attendees can expect tech and startup showcases, panels, pitches, discussions, and networking events to be hosted across Houston and at the Ion, Rice's innovation hub in Midtown. More details on the events will be added to the Ion's website as they become available.

“We look forward to the opportunity to highlight talented founders and connect them with investors, industry practitioners and university resources to help accelerate energy innovation,” Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, says in the release. “The collaboration to launch Energy and Climate Startup Week reflects how Houston works together to scale solutions."

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

ConocoPhillips exec overseeing sustainability, tech set to retire

leadership shift

After decades at the company, ConocoPhillips's executive vice president of strategy, sustainability, and technology is retiring.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) announced that Dominic Macklon, who's been in his role for two and a half years and at the company for 33 years, has elected to retire effective May 1.

“I want to thank Dominic for his leadership, dedication and significant contributions during his distinguished 33 years with ConocoPhillips,” Ryan Lance, chairman and CEO, says in a news release.

“Dominic has played an important role in identifying and driving value from low cost of supply opportunities across our global portfolio while positioning our company for the energy transition and accelerating our emissions reduction initiatives," Lance continues. "I wish Dominic the best in retirement as he relocates back to the U.K.”

In his role, Macklon oversees the teams focused on corporate planning and development, global technical functions, information technology, sustainable development, and low carbon technology, according to the company's website. He previously worked on managing operations of the Gulf Coast and Great Plains business units, as well as land and commercial gas activities, finance, human resources and health, safety and environment.

A graduate of University of Edinburgh, his other leadership roles at the company include vice president of corporate planning and development, president of ConocoPhillips United Kingdom, and senior vice president of Oil Sands.

ConocoPhillips did not reveal any details on who is to succeed Macklon at this time.