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Sustainability startups share challenges, Baker Hughes' new HQ, and more top Houston energy news

Baker Hughes moved into its new Energy Corridor HQ — and more top stories from the week on EnergyCapital. Photo via JLL

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 a new Houston HQ for Baker Hughes, M&A for a Houston startup, and more.

4 biggest challenges of Houston-based sustainability startups

The six finalists for the sustainability category for the 2023 Houston Innovation Awards weigh in on their challenges overcome. Photos courtesy

Six Houston-area sustainability startups have been named finalists in the 2023 Houston Innovation Awards, but they didn't achieve this recognition — as well as see success for their businesses — without any obstacles.

The finalists were asked what their biggest challenges have been. From funding to market adoption, the sustainability companies have had to overcome major obstacles to continue to develop their businesses.

The awards program — hosted by EnergyCapital's sister site, InnovationMap, and Houston Exponential — will name 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 energy startups were named as finalists across all categories, but the following responses come from the finalists in the sustainability category specifically. Read more.Read more.

Baker Hughes unveils new HQ in Houston's Energy Corridor

Baker Hughes has officially moved into its new headquarters in Houston. Photo via bakerhughes.com

Houston-based Baker Hughes officially opened the doors to its new headquarters in the Energy Corridor last week.

At a celebration held Oct. 23, the energy service company unveiled its new space within Energy Center II at 575 N. Dairy Ashford. The move represents a consolidation of Baker Hughes' various offices in the Houston-area as the company decreases its corporate footprint by about 346,000-square-feet, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

It is moving from its former headquarters in North Houston, near IAH. About 1,300 employees will work from the building, according to a statement from Baker Hughes.

“The opening of our new Houston headquarters is an important moment in our strategic transformation as we continue to take energy forward,” Lorenzo Simonelli, Baker Hughes chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Collaboration will be key to solving for the energy transition. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues, partners, customers and new neighbors in the Energy Corridor to solve the Energy Trilemma.” Read more.

Houston company upgrades digital solutions with new partnerships to better address energy transition

Houston-based oil and gas engineering and construction services provider McDermott is making some major software changes to better operate in the ongoing energy transition. Image via mcdermott-investors.com

A Houston engineering and construction solutions company serving the energy industry has announced an agreement that will introduce new software to the company's energy transition plans.

McDermott announced today that it has signed a lighthouse agreement with United Kingdom-based industrial software company AVEVA and Massachusetts-based product lifecycle management platform provider Aras. With the new software, McDermott plans "to develop its asset lifecycle management capability across the energy transition, oil and gas, and nuclear sectors," per the news release.

"McDermott is uniquely positioned to combine its extensive expertise in digital twin and industry-leading engineering procurement and construction (EPC) experience," Vaseem Khan, McDermott's senior vice president of Global Operations, says in the release. "The agreement represents our shared vision and commitment to data-centric digital deliverables management and creates an opportunity for robust digital transformation of industry processes." Read more.

Innovative Houston-based CO2 capture company gets acquired

Milestone Carbon has leased more that 22,000 acres of land in the Permian Basin for the permanent geologic sequestration of CO2. Photo via milestone-es.com

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services announced this month that it has been acquired by affiliates of SK Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount.

The New York-based private investment firm, which specializes in the materials, ingredients, and life sciences sectors, now has a controlling stake of Milestone, which will continue to be led by its president and CEO Gabriel Rio.

Rio founded Milestone in 2014. The company is one of the largest independent providers of waste management services for the U.S. energy and industrial sectors. It focuses on permanent carbon sequestration services through its proprietary slurry injection process, which stores hydrocarbon waste over a mile underground. Read more.

Houston can help unlock the key to a viable energy transition

Houston’s broad energy sector can attract engineering expertise and clean tech talent, serving as a locus for knowledge-sharing on the financial and operational challenges ahead in the energy transition. Photo via Getty Images

The future of energy holds monumental and diverse expectations. Houston’s long history as the hub for oil and gas development – combined with its growing and important role in development of renewables, carbon capture, and other energy innovation – makes it a critical meeting point for discussions on strategy, investment, and stakeholder engagement in the energy transition.

In our research last fall, we detailed how the oil and gas industry was embracing capital discipline and prioritizing shareholder returns. The industry generated record cash flows and offered a combined dividend and share buyback yield of 8 percent in 2022—the highest among all industries. The industry’s commitment to maintaining capital discipline and investing in viable low-carbon projects has only strengthened in 2023. Read more.

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A View From HETI

In Texas last month, coal use dropped and solar energy soared, according to a new report. Photo via Pexels

For the first time in Texas, according to a recent report, solar energy generation surpassed the output by coal.

The report — from the Institute For Energy Economics and Financial Analysis — sourced the Energy Information Administration’s hourly grid monitor for March 2024. This shift in a predominantly oil and gas dominated history of Texas energy output, was due to solar power’s 3.26 million megawatt-hours to Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, compared to coal’s 2.96 million MWh.

In addition, coal’s market share fell below 10 percent to 9 percent for the first time ever, to just over 9 percent. The increase in solar energy pushed solar’s share of ERCOT generation to more than 10 percent for the month, which was also a first.

Due to its sheer size, Texas is the No.1 state for solar capacity. According to the report from SmartAsset, the Lone Star State has the most clean energy capacity at 56,405 megawatts, but continues to trail states with similar geographic characteristics in overall clean energy prevalence.

Texas only 38 percent of the state’s electricity capacity comes from clean electricity, and it has the second-largest solar capacity, which means Texas has the most means, space, and potential to accommodate cleaner electricity. Texas as a whole, ranked No. 22 on the list for states with the most clean energy in the SmartAsset report.

In Texas, generation in March 2024 was 1.17 million MWh more year-over-year, which is a 56 percent increase. ERCOT data shows that the system currently has 22,710 megawatts (MW) of operational solar capacity according to IEEFA, and is expected to expand by almost one-third by the end of 2024 with an additional 7,168 MW of capacity added. The number just considers Texas solar projects that have set aside the financing required to get onto the ERCOT grid and that have a signed interconnection agreement.

Texas burned 50.7 million tons of coal for electricity, which was 13 percent of the U.S. total in 2023 according to the EIA grid monitor. Coal's annual share of ERCOT demand ranged from 36 percent to 40 percent from 2003 through 2014. The last year percent. In 2020, coal was under 20 percent in 2020; and was less than 15 percent in 2023 supplying just 13.9 percent of the system’s total demand.

The IEEFA notes coal’s low March production is important because in recent years it has been the moderate temperatures of April and May and steady winds that have affected the usage and the market share.

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