After recently divesting from wind and solar energy initiatives, Shell has plans to quadruple EV charging stations in the next several years. Photo via

As it downshifts sales of fuel for traditional vehicles, energy giant Shell is stepping up its commitment to public charging stations for electric vehicles.

In a new report on energy transition, Shell lays out an aggressive plan for growing its public network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). The company plans to boost the global number of public EV charging stations from about 54,000 today to around 70,000 by 2025 and about 200,000 by 2030.

The projected growth from today to 2030 would represent a 270 percent increase in the number of Shell-operated EV charging stations.

“We have a major competitive advantage in terms of locations, as our global network of service stations is one of the largest in the world,” Shell says in the report.

Shell’s global network of service stations is shrinking, though. In the report, the company reveals plans to close a total of 1,000 gas stations in 2024 and 2025. Today, more than 45,000 Shell-branded gas stations are located in over 90 countries.

Aside from Shell gas stations, the company’s Shell Recharge business unit operates public EV charging stations along streets, at grocery stores, and at other locations in 33 countries.

Shell, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, is ramping up its EV charging network amid forecasts of slowing demand for oil and rising demand for EVs. Other than EV charging, Shell is focusing on biofuels and integrated power as components of its revamped product mix.

“Shell is well positioned to become a profitable leader in public charging for electric vehicles, meeting the growing demand from drivers who need to charge on the go,” the report says.

To accelerate its EV charging presence in the U.S., Shell in 2023 purchased Volta, a San Francisco-based operator of EV charging stations. Shell says it now operates one of the largest public EV charging networks in the U.S., with more than 3,000 charging points in 31 states and another 3,400 under development.

“The availability of charging points will be critical for the growth in electric vehicles,” the report says.

Last month, Shell divested from a solar energy subsidiary, before later announcing an exit from a wind energy joint venture.

"In-line with our Powering Progress strategy, Shell continues to hone our portfolio of renewable generation projects in key markets where we have an advantaged position," Glenn Wright, senior vice president at Shell Energy Americas, said in a news release at the time.

Companies like ExxonMobil, NRG, and Shell play an important role in helping the world transition to renewable energy sources. Photo via

3 Houston companies leading the way towards a low-carbon future

the view from heti

As the world population makes a jump towards more than 9 billion people by 2050, the race to net-zero is more important than ever. An increase in population means an increase in the demand for energy. With everything from greenhouse gases, pollution, carbon and nitrogen deposition putting a strain on planet Earth, community and business leaders are making commitments to advance the energy transition.

Companies like ExxonMobil, NRG, and Shell play an important role in helping the world transition to renewable energy sources. Here are three ways that these energy companies are working towards an energy abundant, low-carbon future.

NRG Energy

Headquarted in Houston, NRG Energy is the leading integrated power company in the U.S. In 2022, NRG introduced a new Sustainability and Resiliency Impact Study as part of Harris County’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. The initiative includes $34 million in park upgrades and is expected to save $54 million.

That same year, Evolve Houston, a nonprofit working to accelerate electric vehicle adoption within the Greater Houston area, launched an e-mobility microgrant initiative funded by Evolve Corporate Catalysts, General Motors and bp. With five founding members, among them being NRG Energy and Shell, the goal of the initiative is to improve regional air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Greater Houston area.

At the top of 2023, Reliant Energy and NRG launched the Simple Solar Sell Back electricity plan for Texans aimed at providing solar panels to local homes for lower electricity bills.


On a mission to improve their own operations, Shell is addressing energy efficiency over time and capturing or offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. Headquartered in London. Shell is on a mission to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. In 2022, the British multinational company invested $6 million to create the Prairie View A&M Shell Nature-Based Solutions Research Program, funded through the company’s Projects & Technology organization dedicated to funding research to develop new technology solutions.

In March of 2022, Shell gifted the University of Houston $10 million to bolster the institution’s efforts to establish the Energy Transition Institute which focuses on the production and use of reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for all. The company also launched the residential power brand Shell Energy offering 100% renewable electricity plans.


ExxonMobil is one of the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies. In 2021, the multinational oil and gas corporation pledged to invest more than $15 million in solutions to lower greenhouse gas emissions initiatives across six years. As a part of their approach to improve air quality, ExxonMobil is working to:

  • Understand the composition and extent of our emissions
  • Meet or exceed environmental regulations
  • Reduce air emissions to minimize potential impacts on local communities
  • Monitor the science and health standards related to air quality

Throughout the years, plastics have become an essential component of products, packaging, construction, transportation, electronics and more. While plastics are durable, lightweight and cheap, they also emit 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Late last year, the major corporation announced the successful startup of one of the largest advanced recycling facilities in North America. Located in Baytown, Texas, the recycling facility uses proprietary technology to break down raw materials for new products and is expected to have nearly 1 billion pounds of annual advanced recycling capacity by the end of 2026.

According to their 2023 Advancing Climate Action Progress Report released early this year, the corporation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through 2030.

From resolving power grid issues to developing renewable energy technologies, Houston energy companies are powering today to empower the future.


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

Joseph Powell, founding director of UH Energy Transition Institute, discusses the institute's role in the clean energy landscape and their corporate partnerships. Photo via

University of Houston's energy transition exec unpacks future of institute, partnerships, and more


Joseph Powell is about six months into his role as the founding director of the University of Houston’s Shell-backed Energy Transition Institute but already is eyeing how the Institute can aid generations to come through clean energy.

The Energy Transition Institute, which launched a year ago through a $10 million grant from Shell USA Inc. and Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc., is focused on three core areas of clean energy: hydrogen, carbon management, and circular plastics. Powell previously served as chief scientist for Shell as a chemical engineer and has co-invented 60 granted patents.

Powell discussed with EnergyCapital the projects ETI is excited for, opportunities for students to get involved, and their partnership with corporations.

EnergyCapitalHTX: To get started with a little bit of background, the University of Houston Energy Transition Institute was established in March 2020 with a $10 million commitment from Shell. So why did the university decide now is the time for an institute like this to be formed?

Joseph Powell: Houston is the energy capital, and the energy transition has been on everyone's mind, and so certainly now is the right time for an offering to industry to look at how to coordinate activities in that space. We reached out to Shell, which has really made strong commitments in terms of making the pivot from being an oil and gas company to being an energy company and really embracing the energy transition and everything that goes along with that. There was a strong relationship between University of Houston and Shell on the recruitment side, so a number of the Shell staff and employees. UH has been one of the principal suppliers of talent to Shell as an organization, also on the research side in terms of research around hydrogen chemical reaction engineering, and other aspects on the social and community benefits side of what happens with energy. So, there's been quite a bit of overlap. I think Shell saw it as really important to be partnering in the energy capital of the world, to be providing that pipeline of talent for what's going to be needed for the energy transition.

EC: You decided to come to UH to lead the Energy Transition Institute over retiring. What inspired you to take on this role? What’s your vision for the organization?

JP: It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I had worked 36 years in the industry, for Exxon and 32 years with Shell. The elements of the Energy Transition Institute were something that I was very passionate about working on with Shell, since I've been promoted to chief scientist of chemical engineering for the growth global group in 2006. I was involved in helping Shell set its strategy to become a full energy company and chemicals, not just oil and gas. I was involved in the elements of that transition, and then I also had a very strong interest in sustainability in terms of how to manage not only the greenhouse gas footprints of the company, but also elements on the chemical side that go with sustainability.

Shell wanted to combine those two into an energy transition Institute, circular plastics and chemicals were a major focus of that, along with hydrogen as a clean vector for future energy. I was involved with Shell and helped to put together some of their moonshots for how hydrogen can be used in the future economy. The Biden administration has now termed moonshots as Earthshots for the US to be able to use hydrogen as that clean vector to deliver renewable and other forms of energy going forward, as well as carbon management, so I was heavily involved Shell’s planning for how to deal with CO2, whether to capture it and put it underground, or capture it and use it. I'm on the National Academy study team right now, looking at what is the potential to be using some of that CO2 into products as opposed to storing it underground. All of those elements were important and in line with things that I care about and have been heavily involved with, throughout my career. So, why retire when one can be engaged with all of those types of things and now help the next generation come up to speed and take that over and drive it into 2050 and beyond what needs to be done?

EC: How is UH engaging with corporate partners? Why is a collaboration of this nature important?

JP: This collaboration is important for several reasons. One is that we are that bridge to the students and workforce of the future. It's very important for this generation to be as excited about careers and energy as I was, coming up during the energy crisis of the last century and we thought we were absolutely out of energy. We had rationing of gasoline and other things going on, back when I was in high school. Now we have many sources of energy, in a certain sense an energy abundance, but we really need to be looking at the environmental footprint, impact on the climate and then what forms of energy we want to be using. Then you add to that the issue with the impact of plastics on the environment, and how to drive to a more circular economy where we're recycling those and having less of that escape into the environment; those are all strong drivers of what needs to be done going forward.

It takes a lot of energy to process chemicals, plastics, and materials in a circular manner. Developing that workforce of the future means we need the students who want to engage in these efforts and making sure that those opportunities are available across the board to people of all different economic backgrounds in terms of participating in what is going to be just a tremendous growth engine for the future in terms of jobs and opportunities. You're looking at trillions of dollars of annual investment that's needed to manage the energy transition, so it's a really exciting opportunity for those who want to be going into those careers. It's not just science and engineering, but also jobs in law, policy, and communications, because there's a tremendous need for knowledge and background in the energy transition in order to be effective in that going forward. We want to have all the good talent that can be attracted to that arena as a way to address the problem. It's a grand challenge.

We want to make sure that in addition to the research opportunities, since UH is a Tier 1 research institute, we focus on working very closely with industry; there's a number of multinational and local chemical and energy companies that have their research centers and home offices in the Houston area. We can develop those close relationships between the researchers and business interests involved with the students at the university, because we're right here and co-located and can really develop some very strong working teams in that space. It's been exciting to be responding to the federal grant opportunities, which have been abundant in the last year and a half and putting together proposals, to be engaging the industry investigators along with the university students to work on some of those problems. It's a good win-win for both.

We also get to be a trusted voice in the overall equation because there's a lot to know and understand about energy and circular chemicals. They’re more nuanced and complex than what may appear in the news headlines in terms of understanding the trade-offs that have to be worked out, in order to optimize for everyone who's involved. The university can bring in that broad set of stakeholders and have a conversation and make sure that all those co-benefits are understood and the issues that come with energy infrastructure are also worked through for people impacted by the infrastructure but also the benefits of clean air, cleaner environment, and reduced risk of climate change.

EC: Are there any particular technologies the institute is focusing on or excited about at the moment?

JP: I'm really big on hydrogen as an energy vector for the future. Currently, we use hydrogen primarily in refining petroleum into gasoline and diesel and also making fertilizer which is very important for mankind. There was a Nobel Prize on that, you know, more than 100 years ago, and the importance of being able to grow food at rates the planet’s population requires.

Hydrogen now is being looked at, beyond those applications as essentially the diesel or gasoline of the future and also the liquefied natural gas of the future. It can be a clean vector, because you can put it into a fuel cell and generate energy cleanly where water is the only product of that reaction. That can be used to drive quite a number of energy related processes that are currently using combustion of fossil fuels that contain carbon. One of the interesting things is that hydrogen can be supplied to trucks and buses, agricultural tractors, and such. Most of the goods that you're buying today are produced in warehouses where the forklifts are running on hydrogen fuel cells rather than batteries because they refuel so quickly. It's cleaner than emissions. So then there's good air quality in the warehouses. There are more than 60,000 hydrogen-fueled forklifts now in the US, because of that value proposition. We see that for this heavy duty transportation, hydrogen is that very clean vector, you can make it by taking renewable energy and splitting water into hydrogen so it can be very clean. It can also be made from the abundant natural gas we have in Texas and storing the CO2 underground and then using the clean hydrogen for that fuel. That's one of the very exciting new value propositions that go with the Institute.

The second one is carbon management. The Energy Transition Institute will sit within UH Energy, which was founded a number of years ago and so it's looking at the transition part of energy, but UH Energy has its Center for Carbon Management in Energy, which has been focusing capturing and storing CO2 underground off of the existing facilities that we have up and running. They're run by Chuck McConnell but what we will do with ETI is extend that more onto the research side for some of the new things coming along in terms of capturing and utilizing CO2. I'm on a national academy study looking at where and how we want to be turning that CO2 into usable products, using energy and hydrogen, to make a number of those projects. That synergizes with hydrogen as part of the Institute.

Capturing and converting CO2 into usable products is certainly one of the exciting opportunities and then also to reuse those products we've already been making. There are also so many nice things you can do with hydrogen in terms of energy storage, and also helping to upgrade some of the carbon dioxide into usable products, but then also bio feedstock, you can take crop residues or trees and other energy type materials and use hydrogen to upgrade those into those types of plastic materials as well. That's another place where hydrogen is combined with managing a carbon resource to make a more sustainable plastic or polymer.

EC: With UH’s strong emphasis on research and entrepreneurship, is the Institute playing to these strengths within its programming and opportunities to further this trend and if so how?

JP: The money that's been funded by Shell into the launch of the Institute, and then that's been leveraged up to the $52 million point through various donors matching funds. With that, we will be hiring additional faculty to work in this space so that we can further expand the research that's being done. Each new faculty member becomes the opportunity for three things: more coursework in the area around energy, which impacts the student education; the hiring of graduate students who will be doing research; and then that also translates into undergraduate opportunities to be working in the labs and learning. We're also going to be building a new innovation hub in the center of campus here. It will be right across from the MD Anderson library where the old College of Technology building had been located.

On the first floor, there will be a makerspace where the students with ideas and people from the community will be able to come in and have access to 3D printers and other types of materials to put their widgets and prototypes together. On the second floor, then will be the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, which has the top undergraduate program in terms of entrepreneurship so they will hold mentorships, present there, in classroom-like settings, getting people involved with launching an idea and taking it forth into the commercial marketplace. The Energy Transition Institute will be on the third floor because so much of that innovation will be involved in the space of energy transition, which is really the main growth engine for expanding research at the university. Then we'll have on the top floor some laboratories, not only on chemistry and materials, but also on data science. And so we have a Data Science Institute, set up by HPE here at UH, looking at for example how artificial intelligence, machine learning and all those kinds of things help you innovate in the energy materials and processes.

Having a hub that combines all of that together really is an attraction to get all those players together on campus and will be really a key to making all this happen. It's a really exciting place to get involved and if you're a student, having all that in front of you, in terms of opportunity, we think it'd be a great attraction.


This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Looks like green really is the new black in a city that’s known for being all blue. Photo courtesy of Zach Tarrant,

Another Houston sports team commits to fighting climate change


The Houston Texans rocked the football world in early May with their historic back-to-back first-round all-star offense/defense NFL draft picks, but that’s not the only groundbreaking news they had planned this month. In partnership with 1PointFive, the Texans’ Preferred Carbon Removal Partner, the team announced the Touchdown for Trees program to recapture carbon emissions – and the hearts of fans.

“As part of our partnership with 1PointFive, we kicked off our Touchdown for Trees initiative last week at Hermann Park Conservancy,” Houston Texans Senior Vice President of Partnerships Jerry Angel tells EnergyCapitalHTX. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work together to make a difference across our community during the 2023 Season.”

For every touchdown scored by the Texans in the 2022, 2023, and 2024 seasons, the team pledges to plant 1.5 trees in the greater Houston area. To kick off the initiative, Houston Texans staff and cheerleaders gathered in Hermann Park Conservancy on May 11 to plant 25 inaugural trees. The group also removed invasive species from the area to eliminate competition for the newly planted trees and restore native habitat conditions.

Planting trees to fight climate change has gathered significant momentum in recent years, as each individual tree can offset approximately 22 pounds of carbon emissions per year over its first 20 years of life, according to conservative calculations from The One Trillion Tree Initiative, announced at the 2020 World Economic Forum in January 2023, could effectively reduce carbon emissions by 20% year-over-year for the next two decades through reforestation efforts.

Like other carbon capture solutions, reforestation must be pursued with proper planning and care, so as not to waste time nor resources. But many tout reforestation as the simplest way to reduce carbon emissions and meet all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals simultaneously.

With this commitment to reforestation, the Houston Texans join the Astros, Rockets, Dash, and Dynamo in a collective effort to fight climate change. Earlier this spring, the Houston Astros partnered with 1PointFive in an agreement to purchase carbon dioxide removal credits from the new Direct Air Capture facility near Odessa in Ector County, TX.

Like the Texans, the soccer teams of Houston are donating trees for each victory achieved this calendar year. In partnership with Shell Energy, the Dynamo and Dash have already committed to 1,750 new trees from their 5 aggregate wins this spring.

Additionally, each of the homes of these Houston teams follows in the footsteps of Houston’s original green arena, the Toyota Center. One of 10 Green NBA arenas to earn LEED certification, the home of the Houston Rockets boasts energy efficient lighting, electric submeters, and an abundance of trees and vegetation in an urban setting to reduce greenhouse gases by over 3,000 tons annually.

Shell Energy is giving the home of the Dynamo and Dash a decarbonization facelift this year, with energy efficient LED-lighting throughout, installation of EV charging stations, and the use of on-site renewable energy generation systems.

Similar efforts continue to roll out at Minute Maid Park and NRG Stadium, including food sustainability programs, dedicated recycling for aluminum, plastic, and cardboard, and complete conversion to more efficient lighting solutions on the field, in the bathrooms, and even out in the parking lots.

Whether rooting for the home team or cheering on the visitors, fans that attend Houston events at these stadiums and arenas benefit from the knowledge and experience of local talent stewarding such energy transition initiatives. Maybe it’s time to bring back the historic chant of the Oilers, with a modern twist, “go blue–and green!”

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3 Houston sustainability startups score prizes at Rice University pitch competition

seeing green

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

ExxonMobil's $60B acquisition gets FTC clearance — with one condition

M&A moves

ExxonMobil's $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, but the former CEO of Pioneer was barred from joining the new company's board of directors.

The FTC said Thursday that Scott Sheffield, who founded Pioneer in 1997, colluded with OPEC and OPEC+ to potentially raise crude oil prices. Sheffield retired from the company in 2016, but he returned as president and CEO in 2019, served as CEO from 2021 to 2023, and continues to serve on the board. Since Jan. 1, he has served as special adviser to the company’s chief executive.

“Through public statements, text messages, in-person meetings, WhatsApp conversations and other communications while at Pioneer, Sheffield sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico with OPEC+,” according to the FTC. It proposed a consent order that Exxon won't appoint any Pioneer employee, with a few exceptions, to its board.

Dallas-based Pioneer said in a statement it disagreed with the allegations but would not impede closing of the merger, which was announced in October 2023.

“Sheffield and Pioneer believe that the FTC’s complaint reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. and global oil markets and misreads the nature and intent of Mr. Sheffield’s actions,” the company said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was “disappointing that FTC is making the same mistake they made 25 years ago when I warned about the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999.”

Schumer and 22 other Democratic senators had urged the FTC to investigate the deal and a separate merger between Chevron and Hess, saying they could lead to higher prices, hurt competition and force families to pay more at the pump.

The deal with Pioneer vastly expands Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, a huge oilfield that straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. Pioneer’s more than 850,000 net acres in the Midland Basin will be combined with Exxon’s 570,000 net acres in the Delaware and Midland Basin, nearly contiguous fields that will allow the combined company to trim costs.