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Greater Houston Partnership Launches Regional Energy Transition Strategy

Published Jun 29, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta

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HOUSTON (June 29, 2021) — Today, the Greater Houston Partnership announced a strategic regional blueprint for leading the global energy transition to a low-carbon world.  The Partnership developed the comprehensive plan to guide the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), in conjunction with the Center for Houston’s Future and McKinsey with input from more than 60 leaders of industry, investment, government, and academia.  

HETI aims to drive sustainable and equitable economic growth in the Greater Houston region through a portfolio of technology, policy, and market initiatives that scale and export solutions for realizing a low-carbon energy world.  It builds on a foundation of groundbreaking plans and reports including the City of Houston’s Climate Action Plan, Center for Houston’s Future and University of Houston’s report on “The Houston Region as a Global Hydrogen Hub,” and Rice University’s Baker Institute report “The Future of Houston as Energy Transitions.”

“The energy transition presents tremendous opportunities for Houston to leverage our energy leadership to accelerate global solutions for a low-carbon future,” said Bobby Tudor, chair of the initiative and chairman at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. “Houstonians have a long history of solving the world’s greatest challenges. Today, Houston is poised to lead the effort to meet growing global demand for energy while simultaneously dramatically lowering climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. I believe Houston has the expertise and drive to lead the global energy transition.”

The HETI strategic plan highlights actions across value chains in three domains: 

  • Jumpstart and scale up emerging carbon-reduction sectors where Houston has a distinct advantage. These include carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS); hydrogen production and application; the circular economy (specifically plastics recycling); and energy storage solutions including battery technology. ExxonMobil’s proposal for a $100 billion carbon capture innovation zone centered along the Houston Ship Channel is an example of the kind of major investment envisioned in this part of the strategy.
  • Focus on attracting and supporting companies in New Energy industries including wind energy, solar power and biofuels, along with advancing the renewable natural gas and low-carbon liquified natural gas (LNG) value chains.  
  • Deploy cross-cutting initiatives to attract and grow companies in additional energy value-chains, ranging from electric vehicle systems to the decarbonization of natural gas and oil, from petrochemicals to nature-based solutions, and from energy efficiency technologies to geothermal energy production.

Tackling a Dual Challenge

In a report accompanying the announcement, the Partnership underscored the importance of the global energy transition to Houston’s economic future.  It includes McKinsey analysis suggesting that as many as 560,000 jobs could be created by 2050 in the region by supporting low-carbon technologies, industrial investments, innovation eco-systems, government policies and reskilling of talent.  

Noting the city’s historically central role in energy production, use, export and innovation, the report points to the enormous advantage the region enjoys in capturing value from the low-carbon transition – including large-scale infrastructure, attractive business environment, an innovative culture and deep experience in all aspects – technical and commercial – of the global energy economy. The ongoing success of the incumbent oil and gas industry is important to Houston and the world as it will play a critical role in the transition and meeting the dual challenge. The report further highlighted the global context and urgency of Houston’s new strategy, noting that the world is facing a dual challenge. By 2050, humankind will consume 50 percent more energy than we do today.  This growing energy demand is driven by an ever-increasing global population along with an improving, and more energy-intensive, quality of life around the world. At the same time, we will need to meet that growing demand in a way that stops, and even reverses, the global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

“I am pleased to see the concerted and collaborative momentum that now exists in Houston around energy transition,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “In leading the transition, our city will build upon its long history in the energy and chemical industries, provide new opportunities for our workforce, and leverage our assets and existing expertise. I believe this strategy dovetails well with the City’s Climate Action Plan and I look forward to all of us—business, government, academia and beyond—working together to help solve one of the most pressing problems of our generation.” 

Advancing the Houston Energy Transition Initiative

The Partnership will work to advance the strategy under the leadership of the Houston Energy Transition Advisory Group, composed of Partnership board members and other industry and community leaders. 

The Partnership will establish sector-specific working groups to align with the three value-chain domains. These groups will develop cross-cutting relationships to further explore opportunities and will facilitate the launch of “concept design” studies detailing opportunities and actions for each value-chain to define both demonstration  and full-scale project scope, financing needs, incentives, and policy requirements.

The Center for Houston’s Future will also be supporting the initiative by leading efforts to develop a H2Houston Low-Carbon Energy Hub, creating coalitions of industry, academia and government to advance projects in areas such as heavy-duty transportation, exports and/or storage.

In addition to these working groups, the Partnership will support ecosystem-building efforts related to: 1) developing talent to ensure Houstonians are trained for in-demand new energy skills, 2) elevating the perception of Houston as playing a leading role in the energy transition, 3) actively participating in shaping policy that will boost new energy industries, 4) attracting Energy 2.0 companies and supporting cleantech innovation, and 5) convening cross-sector thought leadership.

In recent weeks, more than 35 companies operating in Houston, including a number of notable energy firms, have signed on to a letter of support for the Houston Energy Transition Initiative. The letter communicates the Partnership and Houston’s shared vision and commitment to leading the global transition. The Partnership invites other Houston companies and organizations to join in the commitment. See the letter and the signatories to date

The Path to Progress

The Greater Houston Partnership has been working on energy transition-related work since 2017 when the organization formed a New Energy Task Force designed to bring together various players in the ecosystem.  By bringing the parties together in one room, the Partnership facilitated collaborative discussions across multiple sectors.  

This effort accelerated in January 2020 at the Partnership’s Annual Meeting, where then board chair Bobby Tudor spelled out the challenge – and the opportunity – arising for Houston from the energy transition.  

Tudor’s speech – and the launch not long after of the City of Houston’s Climate Action Plan – inspired a regional conversation that embraced both the urgency of the climate challenge and the importance to Houston of leading the energy transition.
As part of that conversation, the Greater Houston Partnership led an intensive study starting at the beginning of 2021 to understand how the region should best tackle the challenge.  

For more information including the Houston: Leading the Transition to a Low-Carbon World report, visit www.houston.org/energy-transition

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Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership is the principle business organization serving the greater Houston region. The Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing approximately 900 member organizations and one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at Houston.org.
 

CONTACT:    
A.J. Mistretta 
Vice President, Communications         
(c) 504-450-3516 | amistretta@houston.org

Maggie Martin 
Senior Manager, Communications 
mmartin@houston.org 

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