seeing green

New report calls for Houston, energy incumbents to step up to lead energy transition investment

A new report from the Houston Energy Transition Initiative finds that the energy transition sector should commit $150 billion in capital by 2040. Photo via Getty Images

In Houston’s quest to become the world’s energy transition capital, the region should aim for $150 billion in capital earmarked for the sector by 2040, a new report says.

The report, released by the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, and supported by consulting giant McKinsey & Co., indicates about $15 billion in energy transition capital is flowing into the region each year and about $25 billion is flowing out of the region. Of the $25 billion, oil and gas players with headquarters or a significant presence in Houston account for more than 80 percent.

“Increased energy transition capital commitment from energy incumbents raises investor confidence in Houston’s potential for energy transition leadership,” according to the report.

The report identifies several primary targets for energy transition capital, such as:

  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS)
  • Hydrogen
  • Renewable fuels
  • Chemicals and plastics
  • Power generation

Such sources would represent $85 billion of the $150 billion in energy transition capital envisioned for 2040, according to the report. The $150 billion in capital would be the equivalent of up to 80 percent of capital expenditures by the U.S. oil and gas sector in 2021.

The $150 billion “would help the diversity of the city’s economy, workforce, and infrastructure,” the report says.

“There is no geography in the world better positioned than Houston to lead the transition to and integration of abundant, low-carbon energy solutions,” Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI, says in a news release from the Greater Houston Partnership.

The report says that to reach the $150 billion mark, the Houston area must step up the amount of investment in local energy transition startups. As it stands now, more energy transition capital (about $25 billion) is going out of the region than is coming into the region (about $15 billion). Much of that capital supports startups.

Funding for energy transition ventures in the region needs to be supplied by players in venture capital, debt capital, and private equity, the report points out.

Aside from the money required to evolve into the world’s energy transition capital, the report notes that the region also needs to:

  • Become a talent and innovation hub. Among other things, this would involve attracting more startup incubators and accelerators, boosting recruitment at area and out-of-state universities, ramping up financial commitments from major energy companies here, and encouraging major energy companies with headquarters outside the region to base their energy transition operations here.
  • Increase marketing of Houston as a hub for financing of energy transition efforts. This would include reaching out to financiers outside Houston (in places such as New York City, the Middle East, and Singapore), holding energy transition events in Houston, and wooing energy transition companies and financiers.

“Houston’s status as the energy capital of the world, based on decades of leadership in energy markets, has fostered an experienced [private equity] and capital markets community,” says Kassia Yanosek, Houston- based partner and global leader in McKinsey’s energy and sustainability practices. “Our city’s financial sector leaders have great appetite to expand focus to the next investment wave — and face a pivotal opportunity in today’s evolving market to grow and scale energy transition-related endeavors.”

Trending News

 
 

Promoted

The 250,000-square-foot building is the new home for four key research areas at Rice: advanced materials, quantum science and computing, urban research and innovation, and the energy transition. Photo courtesy of Rice

As the academic year officially kicks off, professors have started moving in and Rice University has opened its largest core campus research facility, The Ralph S. O’Connor Building for Engineering and Science.

The 250,000-square-foot building is the new home for four key research areas at Rice: advanced materials, quantum science and computing, urban research and innovation, and the energy transition. The university aims for the space to foster collaboration and innovation between the disciplines.

"To me it really speaks to where Rice wants to go as we grow our research endeavors on campus," Michael Wong, Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, whose lab is located in the new facility, said in a video from Rice. "It has to be a mix of engineering and science to do great things. We don’t want to do good things, we want to do great things. And this building will allow us to do that."

At $152 million, the state-of-the-art facility features five floors of labs, classrooms and seminar rooms. Common spaces and a cafe encourage communication between departments, and the top level is home to a reception suite and outdoor terrace with views of the Houston skyline.

It replaces 1940s-era Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory on campus, which was demolished in 2021 to make way for the new facilities. The iconic sculpture "Energy" by Rice alumnus William McVey that was part of the original building was preserved with plans to incorporate it into the new space.

The new building will be dedicated to its namesake Ralph O'Connor on Sept. 14 in Rice's engineering quad at 3 p.m. O'Connor, a Johns Hopkins University grad, became a fan Rice when he moved to Houston to work in the energy industry in the 1950s.

The former president and CEO of the Highland Oil Company and founder of Ralph S. O’Connor & Associates left the university $57 million from his estate after he died in 2018. The gift was the largest donation from an estate in Rice's history and brought his donations to the university, including those to many buildings on campus and endowments and scholarships, to a total of $85 million.

“How fitting that this building will be named after Ralph O’Connor,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches said in a statement last summer. “He was a man who always looked to the future, and the future is what this new engineering and science building is all about. Discoveries made within those walls could transform the world. Anybody who knew Ralph O’Connor knows he would have loved that.”

The dedication event will be open to the public. It will feature remarks from DesRoches, as well as Rice Provost Amy Dittmar, Dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences Thomas Killian, Chair of the Rice Board of Trustees Robert Ladd and Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering Luay Nakhleh. A reception and tours of the new building will follow.

Trending News

 
 

Promoted