The DOE has deployed funding for direct air capture, events not to miss, and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. The United States Department of Energy doled out some big money last week, two new energy innovation leaders to know, and an event not to miss this week.

DOE grants millions for carbon capture

A handful of direct air capture projects with ties to Houston just received federal funding. Photo via Getty Images

Last week, there were two different DOE funding stories on EnergyCapital — both about federal funding for direct air capture (DAC) projects.

A subsidiary of Houston-based energy company Occidental snagged a roughly $600 million federal grant to establish a hub south of Corpus Christi that’ll remove carbon emissions from the air. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations grant, awarded to Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive, will go toward building the South Texas Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hub. It’ll be located on about 106,000 leased acres within a Kleberg County site at the iconic King Ranch. The hub will comprise 30 individual DAC projects. Read more.

Around the same time, four carbon capture projects with ties to the Houston area were announced to have collectively received more than $10 million in funding from the DOE. Chevron, Fervo Energy, and more were involved in those grants. Read more.

HOU to know in energy transition

Two recent appointments were announced last week. Photos courtesy

Two Houston organizations looking to advance the energy transition named new leaders last week.

Activate named Jeremy Pitts as the Houston managing director this month. The nonprofit, which announced its new Houston program earlier this year, was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 to bridge the gap between the federal and public sectors to deploy capital and resources into the innovators creating transformative products. Pitts will lead the program locally, including working with the inaugural cohort, to be determined later this year for 2024. Read more.

After a months-long search, Greentown Labs named its next leader. Kevin Knobloch, who served as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term, will be CEO of Greentown Labs, effective September 5. In his role, Knobloch will oversee both Greentown locations in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. Read more.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

Plan the rest of your August accordingly.

This week:

  • August 22 — The 2nd Annual Renewable Energy Leadership Conference, hosted by Rice Business Executive Education, voices from leading renewable energy companies, the DOE, and capital providers will gather to discuss the impact the IRA has had on Houston and beyond, and what to expect going forward.
  • August 22-23 — SPE Energy Transition Symposium's goal is to deliver a prominent and dedicated energy transition event by collecting and disseminating the knowledge from industry leaders, technical experts, academicians, practitioners, financial community and ESG leaders, and together through collaboration, advance the conversations, technology and exchanges that will move our industry forward.

Later this month:

  • August 28-30 — Industrial IMMERSIVE Week attracts the most industrial, energy, and engineering tech professionals making investment, strategy and tactical decisions, or building, scaling and executing pioneering XR/3D/Simulations, digital twin, reality capture, edge /spatial computing, AI/ML, connected workforce & IIoT projects within their enterprise.
  • August 30-31 — Carbon & ESG Strategies Conference, presented by Hart Energy, will highlight carbon capture and storage projects and technologies onshore and offshore, direct air capture, enhanced oil recovery, responsibly sourced gas, renewable natural gas, federal funding challenges and insurance issues, ESG initiatives, regulatory concerns and much more.

University of Houston gets new funding, events not to miss, and more things to know this week. Photo via UH.edu

3 things to know this week: Baker Hughes makes moves, events not to miss, and more

Hou knew?

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Baker Hughes makes headlines, a new energy innovation leader has been named, and three events to add to your August calendar.

Baker Hughes's energy transition moves

Last week, if you were reading EnergyCapital carefully, you may have noticed two different stories from Houston-based Baker Hughes.

The Baker Hughes Foundation granted $100,000 to the University of Houston Energy Transition Institute. The funding will work towards the ETI’s goals to support workforce development programs, and environmental justice research. UH's ETI launched a year ago through a $10 million grant from Shell USA Inc. and Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc. Read more.

Also last week, Baker Hughes announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Virginia-based Avports. The agreement is "to develop, implement and operate onsite microgrid solutions for the airport industry," according to a news release from Baker Hughes, with a goal of reducing emissions and work toward a future with zero-emission infrastructure, including buildings, vehicles, etc.

"Baker Hughes' commitment to emissions reductions has allowed us to develop and successfully deploy low-carbon and hydrogen technologies to advance the energy transition in many industries," Bob Perez, vice president of project development at Baker Hughes, says in a statement. "The opportunity to bring these solutions to airports, in collaboration with Avports' proven track record in airport management, is very promising as the increasing needs and demands of these infrastructures must be more resilient, efficient and cost-effective." Read more.

Person to know: Timmeko Moore Love

Greentown Labs has named its inaugural Greentown Houston general manager. The climatetech incubator named Timmeko Moore Love to the role last week.

“Greentown Labs is committed to ensuring founders’ success and is an agent of action in the fight against climate change,” says Love in the release. “I am excited to continue my service to the Greater Houston climate innovation ecosystem through this esteemed platform, and partner internally and externally to evolve and expand our services and programs.” Read more.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

It's a slow week for energy transition events, but here are three later this month you need to know about.

  • August 22-23 — SPE Energy Transition Symposium's goal is to deliver a prominent and dedicated energy transition event by collecting and disseminating the knowledge from industry leaders, technical experts, academicians, practitioners, financial community and ESG leaders, and together through collaboration, advance the conversations, technology and exchanges that will move our industry forward.
  • August 28-30 — Industrial IMMERSIVE Week attracts the most industrial, energy, and engineering tech professionals making investment, strategy and tactical decisions, or building, scaling and executing pioneering XR/3D/Simulations, digital twin, reality capture, edge /spatial computing, AI/ML, connected workforce & IIoT projects within their enterprise.
  • August 30-31 — Carbon & ESG Strategies Conference, presented by Hart Energy, will highlight carbon capture and storage projects and technologies onshore and offshore, direct air capture, enhanced oil recovery, responsibly sourced gas, renewable natural gas, federal funding challenges and insurance issues, ESG initiatives, regulatory concerns and much more.

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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.”

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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.

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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.