Catalyze’s proprietary suite of technology will bring solar development practices to Lancaster and Amherst areas. Photo courtesy of Catalyze

Houston’s Catalyze announced that it secured $100 million in financing from NY Green Bank to support a 79 megawatt portfolio of community distributed generation solar projects across the state of New York.

The loan is part of Catalyze’s increased presence in New York State with operational projects coming to Lancaster and Amherst. Catalyze’s proprietary suite of technology will bring solar development practices to the area.

Catalyze is a Houston-headquartered clean energy transition company that builds, owns, finances, and operates solar and battery storage systems. Catalyze is backed by leading energy investors EnCap Investments L.P. and Actis. NY Green Bank is a division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The deal aims to advance New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of installing six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025. This is part of a larger goal to 10 GW by 2030.

Catalyze owns two proprietary technologies in REenergyze, which is an origination-to-operations software integration platform to accelerate and scale nationwide adoption of commercial and industrial solar and storage, and SolarStrap. SolarStrap isa mounting technology to install rooftop panels.

“We are excited to leverage our extensive community solar expertise to ensure the success of NY Green Bank’s term loan supporting a community distributed generation (CDG) portfolio,” Jared Haines CEO of Catalyze, says in a news release. “CDG is one of the most effective means of making solar energy more accessible to low-to-moderate income communities, and we look forward to how this partnership will support both the goals of NY Green Bank and New York State.”

Texas' solar market will be missing about three hours of sunlight today — and more things to know this week. Photo courtesy of NASA

How the eclipse will test Texas' solar market, events not to miss, and more things to know in Houston energy

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a roundup of events not to miss, what to expect from the eclipse, and more.


Eyes on ERCOT amid eclipse

For three hours today, Texas' solar energy market will be affected by the solar eclipse. According to a report from the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, Texas ranks third in the U.S. for residential solar power generation, so the moon's interception to the sunlight can be a real test to ERCOT, which reported that they have worked with solar forecast vendors on what to expect from solar generation on the grid during the eclipse.

"As we did in preparation for the October 2023 eclipse, ERCOT is actively monitoring the forecasts and available dispatchable capacity for April 8," reads a statement from the organization's March report. "ERCOT will rely on Ancillary Services and other actions to posture the system as necessary during the eclipse to compensate for both the reduction and increase in solar generation on this day and maintain grid reliability. ERCOT has been engaging Market Participants so that they are prepared for the eclipse and expects sufficient generation to meet demand."

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The Digital Wildcatters is hosting its Energy Tech Night in Houston on April 17. Register.
  • On April 17, the University of Houston presents "Gulf Coast Hydrogen Ecosystem: Opportunities & Solutions" featuring experts from academia, industry, government, and more. The symposium begins at 8 am with a networking reception takes place beginning at 5 pm at the University of Houston Student Center South - Theater Room. Register.
  • Ally Energy is hosting its Unconference - Energy 2.0 on April 18 to explore the energy renaissance. Register.
  • The inaugural, student-led TEX-E Conference is taking place on April 19 at TMC's Helix Park. The event’s mission is to empower budding student entrepreneurs to advance their climatetech ventures and inspire industry leaders to support these groundbreaking startups coming out of Texas’ universities. Register.
  • Offshore Technology Conference returns to Houston May 6 to 9. Register.

Really big deal: Shell's EV charging plans

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, Shells 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. Read the full story.

Under this partnership, Home Depot customers will be able to buy Sunnova’s Adaptive Home products, which includes solar power, battery storage, and smart energy management. Photo via Sunnova

Home Depot taps Houston company as exclusive solar, battery service partner

deal's on

Houston-based clean energy company Sunnova Energy International has been tapped as the exclusive provider of solar power and battery storage services for the more than 2,000 Home Depot stores in the U.S.

Under this partnership, Home Depot customers will be able to buy Sunnova’s Adaptive Home products. The Adaptive Home line combines solar power, battery storage, and smart energy management.

Sunnova didn’t assign a value to the Home Depot deal.

“Our goal is to make clean, affordable, and reliable energy services more accessible to everyone,” Michael Grasso, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Sunnova, says in a news release. “As utility rates continue to skyrocket across the country, weather patterns worsen, and remote work becomes more prevalent, the need for resilient, affordable, and dependable power at the home is non-negotiable.”

In 2021, Sunnova rolled out its SunSafe solar and battery storage service at 100 Home Depot stores in hurricane-prone states like Florida, Maryland, and Virginia. A year later, Sunnova made the service available to all Home Depot stores in Puerto Rico.

In 2023, Sunnova expanded the SunSafe offering to 15 Home Depot markets, encompassing about 400 stores.

Publicly traded Sunnova, founded in 2012, had 419,200 customers at the end of last year.

The company recorded revenue of $720.7 million in 2023, up from $557.7 million the previous year. Its net loss in 2023 totaled $502.4 million, up from $130.3 million in 2022.

Houstonians, here's your sign to score solar panels at a discount. Photo by Kindel Media/Pexels

Houston rolls out discounts on solar installation to move the needle on lower-carbon options

expert panels

A city of Houston initiative is offering a discounted rate for solar panel installation for homeowners and small businesses.

This year's Solar Switch Houston deal produces an average savings of $5,315 for each Houstonian who registers with Solar Switch, according to a news release from the city, which partnered with the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. It's the third time the organizations have teamed up to provide the discount.

“We had great success with the first two rounds of Solar Switch Houston where residents were provided with a trusted information source and a substantial group discount,” City of Houston Interim Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer Nicholas Hadjigeorge says in the release. “I am confident that the savings attained in the third round of the program will play a crucial role for residents deciding if solar is the right choice."

The organization vetted solar installers, factoring in "product quality, warranties, company financial stability, and history of customer satisfaction," per the news release. These installers then participated in a reverse auction to provide the discounted services. Those interested in learning more can head to SolarSwitch.com/Houston.

"Everyone deserves to benefit from generating their own solar energy. That’s why we designed Solar Switch – to make installing solar affordable and straightforward for more Houstonians than ever before," America Garcia, Texas program director for Solar United Neighbors, says in the release. "I’m excited to see how much we can broaden the reach and benefits of solar group buying with the continuation of Solar Switch Houston."

Greentown Labs has a new Terawatt Partner. Photo courtesy of Greentown Labs

TotalEnergies signs on as top-level partner at climatetech incubator

onboarding

Greentown Labs, dual located in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has named its latest top-level partner.

TotalEnergies has joined the incubator at the the highest level of partnership — the Terawatt level — Greentown Labs announced on January 23. Through the partnership, TotalEnergies will have access to Greentown's membership of clean energy startups and event programming.

Lotfi Hedhli, president at TotalEnergies Research & Technology U.S., will participate on Greentown’s Industry Leadership Council, providing strategic guidance to the incubator.

“We are excited to join Greentown Labs and its ecosystem to catalyze the development of potential decarbonization technologies through collaboration with promising startups,” Hedhli says in a news release. “This partnership with Greentown Labs will focus in particular on the deployment and use of renewables and low-carbon solutions, which are critical to our ambition to achieve carbon neutrality.”

TotalEnergies is among the world's largest utility-scale solar developers with activity in over 30 states in the country, including a Houston-area solar farm that went online in October. Additionally, TotalEnergies announced in November that it signed an agreement with TexGen to acquire $635 million three gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 1.5 GW in Texas.

“At Greentown Labs, we continue to recognize and appreciate the role energy leaders play in the clean energy transition and we’re proud to have TotalEnergies join us as a Terawatt Partner,” Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in the news release. “We applaud the meaningful steps TotalEnergies is taking to expand its renewable energy portfolio and generation, and we’re eager to have their team of experts engaging directly with our climatetech entrepreneurs.”

Greentown last named a Terawatt Partner — GE Vernova — last fall.

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Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”