Overheard: Experts call for Houston to become the 'energy transition capital of the world'
Before the inaugural Houston Climate Week was shutdown — ironically by a major climate event — event attendees heard from a panel of energy experts that spoke of certain challenges the city's economy faces as the energy transition continues.
One of the last events of the programmed week that took place ahead of cancelations due to the threat of Hurricane Laura, was a virtual panel entitled, ENERGY TRANSITION: Making Houston a Global Leader in Energy Innovation. The conversation centered around what Houston is currently doing — and what it still needs to focus on — when it comes to the need to prioritize sustainability in oil and gas and new green alternatives in the greater energy industry.
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.
“Houston has a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. We’ve all heard Houston be called the oil and gas capital of the world, but we’re the energy capital of the world — and we have the opportunity right now to become the energy transition capital of the world. We see that here — we want to be a part of that.”
— Kelsey Hultberg, vice president and chief of staff of Sunnova, a Houston-based residential solar energy company that went public last year.
“When you think about energy 2.0, it’s about what the energy industry look like in the future. In Houston, we are working hard to present ourselves not just as a current global energy leader, but the future energy leader of the world."
— Jose Beceiro, senior director of Energy 2.0 at the Greater Houston Partnership.
"The energy capital of the world has to be engaged and become the energy transition capital of the world."
— Juliana Garaizar, launch director of Greentown Labs - Houston.
“One of the thing we’re really focused on is energy resiliency and reliability. … After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, really fundamentally as an organization as that there is a need for energy reliability.”
— Hultberg says, adding that around a third of the company's solar sales include a battery.
"The oil and gas industry knows it is going to have to hire a whole new workforce going forward that’s much more technical in terms of data analytics, cloud computing, and edge computing. One method you’re seeing these companies try is investing in new types of energy resources. … Another method you’re seeing is these companies forming closer alliances in the tech industry.”
— Beceiro says, adding that these tech companies — like Amazon and Google — have zoomed in on Houston and increased their local presence.
“I really believe that innovation happens at the intersection of things and for that you really need a convening space for that.”
— Garaizar says, adding that she hopes Greentown Labs can help provide this convening space.