Deloitte explores how energy companies can form renewable goals for right now

Carbon-neutral is the goal, but what can be done right now? Photo by Wuttisack Promchoo/Getty

The global energy mix is shifting from fossil fuels to renewables. There are abundant examples of both public and private organizations working hard to decarbonize the economy.

As this energy transformation or "Green Deal" gains momentum, new ecosystems are forming and new technologies are emerging. These developments are helping to grow renewables, develop new energy carriers, improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and create new markets for carbon and other by-products as part of an increasingly circular economy.

At the same time, many of these commonly pursued steps to decarbonization — such as increased electrification, wide-scale use of renewable energy, and intensifying energy efficiency measures — pose unique challenges.

Many participants in the energy and resources (E&R) industry have publicly declared their intention to become carbon neutral by 2050. While their long-term vision is clear, the more perplexing challenge for E&R companies lies in the immediate future.

Many companies are struggling to understand the material impacts that their stated goals are going to have on their valuations, operations, employees, and markets over the next few years.

Continue reading this article on Deloitte's website to learn how companies in certain sectors of the E&R industry — chemicals, oil and gas, mining and metals, and power, utilities, and renewables — can accelerate decarbonization over the next decade and achieve meaningful interim targets by 2030.

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Building Houston

 
 

Kerri Smith of the Rice Alliance joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss Rice's Clean Energy Accelerator. Photo courtesy of Rice

Kerri Smith knows accelerators. Through her over 18 years at Rice Alliance, she's been responsible for overseeing several and was on the founding leadership team of Houston's first energy tech startup accelerator, SURGE. After years of focusing you accelerating Rice University's student-focused program, Owl Spark, she's transitioned back into the energy tech space.

"I've worked with many types of founders. There's not one unique characteristic that everyone has," Smith says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Our goal is to help move them along and help them move the needle. At the end of the day, we want them to have a good experience and to meet their goals and objectives."

The Rice Alliance's Clean Energy Accelerator launched last summer with its inaugural cohort of 12 cleantech startups, which represented energy sectors from solar and wind innovations to hydrogen, geothermal, and more. Smith says the startups represented a wide range of stages and were from all over — only two companies were from Houston originally. The out-of-town companies were able to make critical partnerships in town and set up a presence and a home here.

"We were able to build a family-like culture among our group, and that was something that was wildly appreciative," Smith, who serves as executive director of the program, says.

Applications for Class 2 of CEA are open until May 31. While the program will offer the same access to mentorship and opportunities, the program will change slightly. CEA will focus on seed and series A-stage companies and will be a hybrid program. Throughout the 10 weeks, which begins in the fall instead of the summer this year, founders will visit Houston three times at the beginning, middle, and the end of the accelerator. Each startup will receive a grant to cover the expenses of the equity-free program.

CEA is just one part of a greater ecosystem of innovation under the umbrella of Rice University, which includes the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Ion Houston, Owl Spark, and more. All these entities also play into the greater Houston area's innovation ecosystem.

"Rice Alliance has a strong history of demonstrating collaboration with a number of organizations," Smith says. "I think one of the primary benefits that we have in these collaborative opportunities is to ensure that we are collectively building a capable and diverse pipeline of talent to solve for these problems and provide them with access to experiencing all of the benefits of our ecosystem."

With CEA specifically, some of these collaborations include working with Greentown Houston, which is just next door to the program's home at The Ion, and the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative.

"We're a cog in the wheel. We do really well with that. We play well with others – in ways that the founder has a good experience and can benefit," Smith says.

Smith shares more about what she's looking for in the second cohort of CEA on the podcast episode, as well as what she sees as Houston's role in the energy transition. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

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