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Greentown scores federal funding, Houston startups win big, and more trending energy transition news

Three Houston energy tech startups win awards at local innovation event — and more top stories from the week. Photo by Emily Jaschke/InnovationMap

Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included wins for Houston energy tech startups, federal funding for Greentown Houston, and more.

Canadian company secures Houston funding, relocates HQ

Ambyint has fresh funding and a new main office. Photo via Getty Images

An AI-powered energy tech company has raised additional funding and relocated it's main office to Canada.

Ambyint, a Canadian-founded company that's had a Houston presence for a few years, has announced its latest round of funding and new headquarters. The software company provides energy customers with its AI-powered production and artificial lift optimization platform.

The funding comes from existing investors, Houston-based Mercury and Montrose Lane, plus two new investors, BDC Capital and Accelerate Fund III. The undisclosed amount of funding will go toward customer growth, hiring, and new enhancements to the technology, including expanding emissions mitigation capabilities.

"We have the wind in our sails and are extremely proud to see this transaction close,” Benjamin Kemp, CEO of Ambyint, says in a news release. “This investment allows us to double down on the energy market and further our AI-enabled optimization platform. Validation from our customers, talented employees, and investors is most welcome as we continue to scale.” Read more.

3 Houston energy startups score awards at annual innovation event

Three energy tech startups secured wins at the Houston Innovation Awards. Photos courtesy

Three energy tech startups scored wins this week at the annual Houston Innovation Awards.

The awards program — hosted by EnergyCapital's sister site, InnovationMap, and Houston Exponential — named its winners on November 8 at the Houston Innovation Awards. The program was established to honor the best and brightest companies and individuals from the city's innovation community.

Eighteen Houston energy startups were named finalists last month across categories, and three won awards. Read more.

Greentown Houston selected for federal program that's accelerating tech entrepreneurship

Greentown Houston has received funding from the EDA. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Sixty organizations across the country have received a grant from the United States Department of Commerce — and one recipient is based in Houston.

Greentown Labs, dual located in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has received a grant from the 10th cohort of the Economic Development Administration's “Build to Scale” program for its Houston location. The $53 million of funding was awarded to 60 organizations across 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. All of the programs support technology entrepreneurs across industries.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is Investing in America to help create entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country and put quality, 21st century job opportunities in people’s backyards,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo says in the press release. “The ‘Build to Scale’ program will unlock innovation potential in regions all over the nation, improving our economic competitiveness now, and for decades to come.” Read more.

Oxy subsidiary gets $550M boost to form new CCUS joint venture

Oxy, which broke ground on its DAC project Stratos earlier this year, has secured a $550 million commitment from a financial partner. Photo via 1pointfive.com

Occidental Petroleum’s direct air capture (DAC) initiative just got a more than half-a-billion-dollar investment from Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management company.

Houston-based Occidental announced November 7 that on behalf of its investment clients, BlackRock has agreed to pump $550 million into the DAC facility, called Stratos, that Oxy is building in the Midland-Odessa area. The investment will be carried out through a joint venture between BlackRock and Oxy subsidiary 1PointFive, which specializes in carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS).

A groundbreaking ceremony for Stratos — being billed as the world’s largest DAC operation — was held in April 2023. Construction is scheduled to be completed in mid-2025. The facility is expected to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Read more.

Global corporation to open generative AI studio geared toward energy, chemicals industries in Houston

Accenture's Houston hub will introduce a new generative AI studio. Photo via Getty Images

Accenture has announced a new studio coming to Houston that will help its industrial clients with generative artificial intelligence.

The company announced that it will launch a network of studios across North America that will work with clients to explore generative AI applications in business. The initiative will support companies in navigating use cases, conducting AI pilots, and scaling programs. The studios will be in Accenture Innovation Hubs in Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

“The studios are designed to help our clients move from interest to action to value, in a responsible way with clear business cases,” Manish Sharma, North America CEO of Accenture, says in the news release. “We are constantly refreshing our learnings from more than 3,000 client conversations on generative AI this year. We use these conversations as demand signals to understand the real-world challenges our clients face and invest in the areas of greatest need and opportunity.” Read more.

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A View From HETI

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

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.

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.

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