Greentown Houston celebrated two new automation from its corporate partners. Photo via Greentown Labs/LinkedIn

Houston’s Greentown Labs announced new resources and equipment for its members thanks to two corporate partnerships.

Greentown Houston is now home to new tools from Emerson and Puffer to help members implement strong foundations for access to contextualized data.

Automation is the theme with the latest resources, as the process assists with a startup's journey to “standardization and scalability” according to a news release from Greentown Labs. Members will have access to these two units and platforms. The DeltaV Automation Platform is a data-driven decision-making resource that aims to improve operational performance while reducing risks, costs, and downtime. It integrates real-time analytics, advanced automation solutions, sophisticated control systems, and lifecycle services.

Puffer-Sweiven is a localized, single point of contact for sales, service, and applied engineering for Emerson Automation Solutions in the Texas Gulf Coast and Central Texas area with the capabilities to combine with other members in North America to leverage global reach and technologies. Puffer is an Emerson Impact Partner.

Greentown Labs members will have access to the two new automation tools. Photo via Greentown Labs/LinkedIn

With access to the two units, Greentown Labs member companies can further explore easy-to-use, integrated-by-design DeltaV Distributed Control System. With the system, companies and members can better scale new technologies into pilot scale, optimize processes for high quality products, and implement a smart foundation for access to contextualized data. Global ROC is one company that is already utilizing the new resources at Greentown Labs.

“Our member Global ROC, which is developing a solution for cooling tower systems that reduces chemical consumption, saves water, and reduces energy costs, plans to use the system in two ways,” Global ROC CEO Ely Trujillo said to Greentown Labs via LinkedIn.

The startup will be able to create a control method that can be applied to future projects by using and comparing Global ROC’s products with the Delta V’s advanced function blocks. Trujilloalso plans to train team members to set up a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller. The PID involves building a lab test box that connects to the DeltaV’s CHARM modules to control a process to a temperature by varying amperage through the DeltaV’s PID controller.

As part of the 3-year kickoff of the Texas Exchange for Energy and Climate Entrepreneurship (TEX-E), Greentown Labs also celebrated 87 Texas students from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, Rice University, Prairie View A&M University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been accepted into this year's Fellowship. The students will gain access to hands-on experiences including internships, pitch competitions, entrepreneurship bootcamps, courses, and conferences geared to help the climate and energy-transition innovation field.

In March, Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space were named the newest accelerator for the Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program, or ACCEL. The seven selected startups will have a year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, and a non-dilutive $25,000 grant.
Learn more about the specific missions the Houston Energy Transition Initiative is focused on — from carbon management to finding funding. Photo via htxenergytransition.com

Houston: Where energy leaders create a low-carbon future

the view from heti

Houston is the energy capital of the world, and it faces a dual challenge: fulfilling growing global energy demand while actively reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

This is why energy leaders have come together at the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, within the Greater Houston Partnership, to strengthen the region’s position for an energy-abundant, low-carbon future. HETI’s impact work is conducted through sector-specific working groups that leverage Houston’s competitive advantage. These working groups include: Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS), Clean Hydrogen, Capital Formation, Power Management, and Industry Decarbonization.

Texas Gulf Coast as a hub for carbon management

The International Energy Agency (IEA) states that CCUS is a requirement to any realistic pathway to a low-carbon, even net-zero future. This is especially true in the Houston area, which is home to one of the nation’s largest concentrated sources of carbon dioxide. Houston has the geology, knowledge, and infrastructure to support CCUS at scale. The CCUS Working Group at HETI supports key policy enablers of scaling CCUS, including supporting the state to earn permitting authority (primacy) over carbon capture (Class VI) wells. The working group is also analyzing the cumulative impacts of carbon capture on the region’s existing infrastructure and identifying key infrastructure needs for CCUS to reach scale.

Gulf Coast preparing for clean hydrogen liftoff

The Clean Hydrogen working group has created an ecosystem for Houston to lead the clean hydrogen market. The Texas Gulf Coast region is currently home to the world’s largest hydrogen system. By assessing the impact of hydrogen on the economy and the environment, this working group is positioning Houston to be a leading clean hydrogen hub.

Houston as a leader in Industry decarbonization

Houston needs technologies including but not limited to clean hydrogen and CCUS for decarbonization. The HETI Decarbonization Working Group partners with the Mission Possible Partnership and Rocky Mountain Institute to provide a measurable baseline of emissions and identify recommendations for decarbonization pathways in the Houston region.

An energy-abundant, low-carbon future will impact our region’s power management

It is expected that there will be changes in supply and demand of electricity associated with proposed energy transition and decarbonization projects in the Houston area. HETI has partnered with Mission Possible Partnership and Rocky Mountain Institute to assess the impact of energy transition and decarbonization on the growth and resilience of Houston’s regional power grid and the transmission and distribution of energy.

Making Houston a hub for energy transition finance

Financing energy projects is extremely capital intensive. Houston currently serves as a hub for implementing new technologies, and it has the potential to become a major center for financing innovative energy solutions. This includes everything from more efficient, lower-carbon production of existing resources to technological breakthroughs in energy efficiency, renewables, energy storage, and nature-based solutions. For technological breakthroughs, Houston needs a consistent flow of capital to the region, including sources and financing models from venture capital to growth capital, to debt markets and government grants. HETI’s Capital Formation Working Group has mapped inflows and outflows of capital for the energy transition in Houston and found that we need to grow Houston’s capital inflows ten times by 2040 to $150 billion per year to lead the transition. The Working Group regularly convenes for learning sessions on capital markets.

Over the last year, HETI’s working groups have moved from strategy to impact. To learn more about the outcomes of these working groups, check out these resources.

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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.

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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.”