Here's the latest global energy company to sign onto Greentown Labs. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Labs has named its latest partner, opening a door to Colombia and South America.

Ecopetrol has joined Greentown as its newest Terawatt Partner, the highest level partner for the incubator. The company, which the Colombian government holds a majority ownership stake in, has integrated business across the hydrocarbon value chain, as well as low emission solutions and energy transmission.

"Accelerating the energy transition and fostering climate action is only possible through innovation, entrepreneurship, and meaningful partnerships," Ecopetrol's Chief Innovation Officer Agostinho João Ramalho Almeida says in a news release. "At Grupo Ecopetrol, we believe in joint efforts, orchestration, and access to technology to push barriers and increase value for our business and sustainability agenda. Partnering with Greentown Labs and working alongside industry leaders is an amazing opportunity to tackle common goals and challenges."

The company has a presence in several other locales throughout South and North America, per the release.

With the new partnership, Ecopetrol will have access to the Greentown community and events. Laura Tobón Díaz, head of innovation ecosystems and strategic partnerships for Ecopetrol, will serve on Greentown's Industry Leadership Council.

"Greentown is excited to partner with Ecopetrol, an energy company taking meaningful action on climate in collaboration with the Colombian government," Greentown CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in the release. "We look forward to seeing our startups' climate technologies advance Ecopetrol's decarbonization efforts, as well as Ecopetrol sharing its energy expertise, connections, and resources with our entrepreneurs."

Earlier this year, TotalEnergies joined the incubator at the Terawatt level, and before that, GE Vernova was the latest top-level partner, joining last fall.

Houston energy transition folks — here's what to know to start your week. Photo via Getty Images

Talos offloads low carbon subsidiary, events not to miss, plus more Houston energy things to know

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, a really big deal, and more.

Big deal: Talos Energy sells off low carbon arm to TotalEnergies in $148M deal

One of the biggest energy transition deals from last week was Talos Energy selling off its subsidiary, Talos Low Carbon Solutions LLC, to TotalEnergies. The deal is for a purchase price of $125 million plus customary reimbursements, adjustments and retention of cash, which totals approximately $148 million.

Talos plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repay borrowings under its credit facility and for general corporate purposes. The sale includes Talos's entire carbon capture and sequestration business, which includes its three projects along the U.S. Gulf Coast with Bayou Bend CCS, Harvest Bend CCS, and Coastal Bend CCS. Read more.

Apply for the Rice Clean Energy Accelerator

The deadline to apply for the fourth cohort of the Rice Clean Energy Accelerator is Friday, March 29. Those interested in the nine-week program can learn more and apply online.

The program seeks to advance emerging ventures and entrepreneurs in the clean energy industry. CEA connects participants with industry leaders and investors.

With a focus on early-stage startups operating in the TRL range of 3 to 7, accepted companies gain access to a range of benefits, including mentorship and essential resources.

Events not to miss

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

  • DeCarb Connect supports senior leaders in decarbonization to accelerate strategy and decision making to reduce carbon emissions and reach net zero targets. The event is March 26 to 28 at Westin Houston Memorial City. Register.
  • On March 27, Greentown Houston is hosting "Accelerating Net-Zero Solutions: CCUS Innovation and Startup Showcase." Watch the Go Make 2023 cohort pitch their innovations in carbon utilization, storage, and traceability; hear about their work with Shell throughout the startup-corporate-partnerships accelerator; and learn from CCUS industry experts. Register.
  • The 3rd Annual Carbon Tracking and Reporting Conference begins next Wednesday in Houston. The event's matchmaking and networking app has been launched and registrants are viewing attendees and setting up meetings. 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.

Seven energy companies are partnering to produce electric natural gas, a synthetic natural gas produced by combining renewable hydrogen and recycled CO2. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-area energy companies team up for initiative to produce electric natural gas

eyes on e-ng

More than half-a-dozen energy companies — most with a significant presence in Houston — have signed up as founding members of a coalition focusing on the production of electric natural gas.

Founders of the e-NG Coalition are:

  • Engie, whose North American headquarters is in Houston
  • Mitsubishi, which operates a branch office in Houston
  • Osaka Gas, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Sempra Infrastructure, which operates its Center of Excellence in Houston
  • TES (Tree Energy Solutions), whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Tokyo Gas, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston
  • Toho Gas, a Japanese utility
  • TotalEnergies, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston

Electric natural gas, also known as e-NG or e-natural gas, is a synthetic natural gas produced by combining renewable hydrogen and recycled CO2.

“The founding members of the coalition believe e-NG can provide a meaningful contribution to the energy transition by accelerating the development of renewable hydrogen,” the coalition says in a news release. “With large industrial capabilities and investment potential, the founding members are committed to the development of e-natural gas projects globally.”

TES spearheaded establishment of the e-NG Coalition.

“Collaboration is paramount to scaling up sustainable energy solutions and driving the energy transition forward. TES took the initiative to sponsor the creation of the e-NG Coalition and work together with leading industrial players to accelerate the development of e-NG,” says Marco Alverà, co-founder and CEO of TES.

Last September, Sempra Industries announced it had teamed up with four Japanese companies — Mitsubishi, Osaka Gas, Toho Gas, and Tokyo Gas — to explore building an e-natural gas project along the Gulf Coast.

The proposed project would generate 130,000 metric tons of e-natural gas per year. The gas would liquified at a terminal in Louisiana and then exported to Japan.

In a news release, the Japanese partners said they envisioned developing “the world’s first large-scale production and international supply chain of e-natural gas.”

Talos Energy announced that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of its wholly owned subsidiary Talos Low Carbon Solutions to TotalEnergies. Photo via Getty Images

Talos Energy sells off low carbon arm to TotalEnergies in $148M deal

M&A moves

A Houston-based company is divesting its low-carbon subsidiary to TotalEnergies, which has its United States headquarters in Houston.

Talos Energy announced that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of its wholly owned subsidiary Talos Low Carbon Solutions LLC to TotalEnergies. The deal is for a purchase price of $125 million plus customary reimbursements, adjustments and retention of cash, which totals approximately $148 million.

According to a news release, Talos plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repay borrowings under its credit facility and for general corporate purposes. The sale includes Talos's entire carbon capture and sequestration business, which includes its three projects along the U.S. Gulf Coast with Bayou Bend CCS, Harvest Bend CCS, and Coastal Bend CCS.

There is an opportunity for additional future cash payments upon achievement of certain milestones at the Harvest Bend or Coastal Bend projects for Talos. More payments can be obtained also upon a sale of the aforementioned projects by TotalEnergies.

"Since TLCS's inception, we have successfully applied our energy expertise as an early mover aimed at developing decarbonization solutions along the U.S. Gulf Coast,” Talos President and CEO Timothy S. Duncan says in a news release. ”Strong market interest during our capital raise provided the strategic option to fully monetize the business to TotalEnergies, an established global leader in CCS development."

Talos Executive Vice President, Low Carbon Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer Robin Fielder will continue to serve in her role for a transition period before leaving Talos.

"Robin and our entire CCS team did an outstanding job crystallizing value for Talos shareholders for a strong financial return," Duncan continues. "The transaction will further enable Talos to prioritize cash flow generation and optimal capital allocation in our core Upstream business. We are also continuing to explore business development and strategic M&A opportunities."

TotalEnergies is active in the Houston energy transition ecosystem and recently signed on as a partner at Greentown Houston. Last fall, the company also started commercial operations of its new solar farm, Myrtle Solar, just south of Houston.

TotalEnergies has announced its Texas plant can produce sustainably certified polymers for a wide range of purposes. Photo via totalenergies.com

TotalEnergies shares big circular economy win at Texas plant

reduce, reuse, recycle

For the first time in the United States, a global energy company has converted plastic waste into circular polymers.

TotalEnergies announced its milestone that took place at its polypropylene plant in La Porte, Texas. The plant, according to the company, will produce sustainably certified polymers for a wide range of purposes, including food grade packaging.

"After Europe, this first production of circular polymers from advanced recycling in the United States is a new step forward in our commitment to meeting the global market's growing demand for more innovative and sustainable plastics, as well as in our ambition to produce one million tons of circular polymers a year by 2030," Heather Tomas, Vice President Polymers Americas, says in the news release.

New Hope Energy's recycling facility in Tyler, Texas, provided the feedstock, which was converted into monomers at BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals facility in Port Arthur, Texas. BTP is a joint venture between BASF and TotalEnergies.

"We are excited to partner with TotalEnergies in our mutual effort to transform plastic for a cleaner world," Rusty Combs, CEO of New Hope Energy, says in the release. "This supply agreement is an important step towards achieving New Hope's goal of creating pyrolysis projects at a scale that will materially improve the nation's plastic recycling performance. We are honored by the confidence TotalEnergies has placed in both our team and our robust technology."

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.”