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Annual Houston conference to target topics on digitalization of decarbonization

Venture Houston returns this year — this time focused on the digitization of decarbonization. Photo courtesy of Venture Houston

An event that brings top venture capitalists to Houston returns for its third year — and this time the topic of conversation is the energy transition.

Venture Houston, taking place on September 7, is presented by HX Venture Fund, a fund of funds that deploys capital into non-Houston firms to encourage investment in local startups. This year's theme is "Spotlighting the path for decarbonization in a digital world," and Sandy Guitar, managing partner at HXVF, tells EnergyCapital that while that might sound like a narrow topic, attendees will see at the event how broad a theme it really is.

"We're calling it digitalization to decarbonization in order to help identify the fact that decarbonization is just a market that you sell into — the technologies are very broadly defined," Guitar says. "Underneath that, the decarbonization market happens to involve everything that is better, cheaper, and faster."

The event, which has its ticket registration open now, has a full agenda with several keynote addresses and panels featuring venture leaders, CEOs, startup founders, and more from Houston and beyond. There will also be networking breaks and other activations, including a breakfast presented by DivInc and Capital Connect on September 6. This event features curated collisions for a select VCs and founders.

The conference's first panel, "Seeding Sustainability: Unlocking the Power of Early Stage Investments," includes Josh Posamentier, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures, who will share the stage with the founder of one of his firm's portfolio companies, Tim Latimer of Fervo Energy, among others.

To Posamentier, one of the things he hopes attendees takes away is how timely decarbonization is — especially in Houston.

"If I had one ask, it would be that people, especially for this audience, double down and mobilize more toward alternative energy," he tells EnergyCapital. "Take all the learnings, all the skills that come from conventional energy and repurpose them. I think there's it's a bigger market — more is being spent on renewables now than on oil and gas development and, you've got got a good 50 years of insane growth ahead."

And, as Guitar adds, the energy transition is not something that only affects the companies building the technology or working within the energy industry.

"I do think it's important to see the decarbonization not as a hard tech event, but as everything that touches carbon, which is basically everything in our planet in just the coal previously," she says. "Everything we make and use touches the climate."

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A View From HETI

The combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology. Photo via Getty Images

SLB announced its plans to combine its carbon capture business with Norway company, Aker Carbon Capture.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of this year, SLB will own 80 percent of the combined business and ACC will own 20 percent.

According to a SLB news release, the combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB, says in the release. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project.

The International Energy Agency estimates that over one gigaton of CO2 every year year will need to be captured by 2030 — a figure that scales up to over six gigatons by 2050.

"We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors,” Le Peuch continues.

SLB is slated to pay NOK 4.12 billion — around $379.4 million — to own 80 percent of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS, which owns ACC, per the news release, and SLB may also pay up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years, depending on business performance.

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