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Houston Described as 'Solar Leader' as it Continues Increasing Capacity

Published Apr 21, 2022 by Brina Morales

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A new environmental report ranks Houston No. 16 in the nation for total installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, moving up three spots from its previous ranking.

According to the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center’s report Shining Cities 2022: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, Houston nearly doubled its solar capacity to 81.4 megawatts between the end of 2019 to the end of 2021. 

“The Bayou City once again stands out as a solar leader,” Executive Director of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center Luke Metzger said in a press release. “Houston’s leadership on solar to date has helped secure a cleaner environment, healthier community and more resilient future.”

This month marks two years since the City of Houston released its Climate Action Plan (CAP), a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, become carbon neutral by 2050, and lead the global energy transition. One of the plan’s targets is to produce five million megawatts of solar power per year by 2050.  In 2021, the City of Houston launched a solar co-op to help homeowners and business owners go solar.

“By setting big goals to grow solar here at home and helping more Texans see the benefits of solar for themselves, we are both setting an example for our peers to follow and ensuring a better future for our community,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. 

This year the City of Houston announced the Sunnyside Solar Farm, which will transform a 240-acre former landfill into a solar power farm. Once completed, it will be the largest urban solar farm in the nation built on a landfill, according to the City. The project is expected to remove an estimated 120 million pounds of carbon from the air each year and create jobs. Turner also recently signed a decarbonization policy for city-owned and operated buildings. The City estimates the policy will avoid over 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Here are a few other highlights from the report:

  • The U.S. now has 121.4 gigawatts of solar PV capacity, producing enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes
  • Los Angeles leads the nation in total installed solar PV capacity
  • San Antonio led the South Central region and the state, ranking No. 5 in the nation 

Texas produces more wind power than any other U.S. state and more solar power than any state other than California. 

Last year the Partnership launched a regional energy transition strategy to help Houston lead the global energy transition. The Houston Energy Transition Initiative (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. The strategy also aims to take steps to support solar and wind development by actively attracting and retaining project developers, asset owners and financial traders to Houston.

Read more about Houston's Energy Industry and how your company can join in the commitment to leading the global energy transition.
 
 

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Report: Houston Region Poised to Become a Global Clean Hydrogen Hub

5/23/22
With the U.S. Department of Energy set to announce plans for $8 billion in funding for clean hydrogen hubs across the country, a new report finds that Houston, long considered the “Energy Capital of the World,” is well positioned to leverage Texas’ vast energy resources to become a global clean hydrogen hub. These energy resources include existing hydrogen production facilities and pipelines along the Gulf Coast, a base of large, sophisticated industrial energy consumers, and renewable energy assets across the state. The report, released today by the Center for Houston’s Future, Houston as the epicenter of a global clean hydrogen hub, lays out how these assets can be leveraged to create a global clean hydrogen hub. Find the report here. Inspired by the unprecedented opportunity for Houston to lead the energy transition to a lowcarbon future, the report contains the most detailed assessment to date of the economic potential and environmental impact of clean hydrogen. The report explains how clean hydrogen can be produced by adding carbon capture to current natural gas-based hydrogen plants or through electrolysis (the process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen). Using these methods, the report shows how clean hydrogen can be an important tool in addressing climate change and reducing industrial emissions while creating high-paying jobs. Clean hydrogen hubs are expected to emerge in regions where there is sufficient clean hydrogen supply and demand. Since the Houston region produces and consumes a third of the nation’s hydrogen and has more than 50 percent of the country’s dedicated hydrogen pipelines, the report provides a roadmap for how these assets can be utilized to accelerate a transition to clean hydrogen. The report was created as part of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, with input from more than 100 experts representing 70 companies and organizations along the hydrogen value chain. In addition, McKinsey and Company donated significant research and economic analyses for the report. Among the findings in the study: Clean hydrogen production could grow 5x over current hydrogen production by 2050. The establishment of a clean hydrogen industry could create 180,000 jobs (direct, indirect and induced) statewide, while adding $100 billion to Texas' GDP growth. Globally, a Houston-led clean hydrogen hub could abate 220 million tons (MT) tons of carbon emissions by 2050. “This report gives additional weight to the already strong case that Houston is uniquely positioned to lead a transformational clean hydrogen hub with global impact,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We can also deliver economic growth, create jobs and cut emissions across Houston and the Gulf Coast, including in underserved communities.” Governments worldwide are looking to clean hydrogen to help meet net-zero carbon emission goals. In the U.S., the Department of Energy says clean hydrogen is crucial to President Biden’s goals for a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. “The Houston region has the talent, expertise and infrastructure needed to lead the global energy transition to a low-carbon world. Clean hydrogen, alongside carbon capture, use, and storage are among the key technology areas where Houston is set up to succeed and can be an example to other leading energy economies around the world,” said Bobby Tudor, chair of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative. The report describes a vision for how the hub could hit the ambitious cost targets proposed by the DOE in its recent Energy Earthshot initiative and meet strict emissions goals set out by Congress in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The report discusses how achieving outcomes that support environmental justice, create good jobs, and incentivize US-based manufacturing are core to the vision of a successful clean hydrogen hub in the region. "Using this roadmap as a guide and with Houston’s energy sector at the lead, we are ready to create a new clean hydrogen economy that will help fight climate change as it creates jobs and economic growth,” said Center for Houston’s Future CEO Brett Perlman. “We are more than ready, able and willing to take on these goals, as our record of overwhelming success in energy innovation and new market development shows.” Selected key findings follow. Vision and strategic roadmap The proposed 2050 vision could have massive impact on climate, jobs, and the economy, including an estimated 220 MT of global CO2 abatement, $100 billion in economic value, and the creation of 180,000 jobs. With the right policy framework, the hub could become the global leader in clean hydrogen production, application, development, and exports. Demand Global demand for clean hydrogen is limited today, but we expect it to grow 6-8% each year on average between 2030-50. Hydrogen is expected to play a critical role in decarbonizing sectors such as industry, mobility, and power – potentially addressing 660 MT of demand by 2050, according to the Hydrogen Council. Demand for clean hydrogen in Texas alone could reach 21 MT by 2050 – vs. current demand of 3.6 MT for conventionally produced hydrogen. The expected demand in 2050 comprises 11 MT for local demand and a surplus of 10 MT for export. Export of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels is the largest driver of the increase, contributing ~10 MT of hydrogen demand. Industrial applications are the second largest driver, with feedstock and heating in sectors such as refining, petrochemicals, ammonia, iron and steel, and cement accounting for ~6 MT of hydrogen demand. Mobility, with ground transportation (trucks, light commercial vehicles, and buses) accounting for ~2.3 MT of hydrogen demand and marine and aviation accounting for ~1.5 MT of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuel demand. Utility power generation, with energy storage and local grid natural gas blending accounting for ~1.6 MT of hydrogen demand. Supply Clean hydrogen production costs for both electrolysis-based and natural gas-based hydrogen are expected to drop substantially. The estimated cost of producing natural gasbased hydrogen with carbon capture and storage in 2030 could meet the DOE’s goal of $1/kg of clean hydrogen. Electrolysis-based hydrogen could be reduced to as low as $1.5/kg by 2030 but will need further government support to hit the Department of Energy’s target. The region has natural advantages in developing cost-effective hydrogen transport and storage, given extensive oil and gas and hydrogen pipelines, experience in hydrogen storage, salt caverns, and port infrastructure. The Texas Gulf Coast is positioned to be the hydrogen export hub of the U.S., given our ability to compete with potential major exporters (e.g., Australia, Chile, and Saudi Arabia) on the delivered cost of hydrogen. Strategic considerations including security and reliability also provide advantages. Impact of the Hub Across the Region and the State As the clean hydrogen ecosystem develops, we can see a variety of projects addressing supply, demand, and infrastructure spreading across the region, with concentrations in areas around Greater Houston, Corpus Christi and South Texas, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Beaumont and East Texas, and extending to Dallas and the Texas Triangle, as well as West Texas. Cross-cutting enablers Government commitments, direct incentives, and regulatory frameworks are among the major policy instruments for decreasing cost and increasing demand. In addition to federal policies, Texas and Louisiana should implement state-level policies to accelerate progress on the 2050 vision. More work is needed to flesh out appropriate options. Scaling hydrogen requires developing infrastructure, including hydrogen transport and storage, fueling stations, CO2 transport and storage, water purification and transportation, electricity transmission, port infrastructure, and a mature supply chain for critical materials. The hub would benefit from a vibrant innovation ecosystem, including a research consortium that fosters collaboration across institutional lines, a start-up network that leverages existing assets and demand in the region, a testing facility to scale and commercialize new technologies, and local equipment manufacturing Meeting the hub’s talent needs requires equitable workforce development programs. Community colleges, institutions of higher education, and companies could all play key roles in training a hydrogen economy workforce. The next phase of this work will focus on creating a demand-centric roadmap for 2022 through 2030. Our team will also explore hub funding requirements, sector-specific legal and regulatory unlocks, and ways to build the right coalition for an integrated effort to develop the hydrogen hub. Collectively, these actions will create the blueprint for Houston – as the energy capital of the world – and the Gulf Coast to lead the transition to clean hydrogen. “By working together now, government, industry and community leaders can make a significant impact at home and across the world that will be felt for years to come,” Perlman said. Learn more about the Center for Houston's Future and its work in hydrogen as well as the Partnership and HETI. 
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Infrastructure Investment, Energy Transition Lead Discussion During Partnership D.C. Fly-In

5/4/22
In late April, the Greater Houston Partnership hosted a reputable group of more than 60 business leaders, energy industry experts, and governmental relations professionals in our nation’s capitol to meet with leaders and decision makers working on some of the most important issues facing our nation, state, and region. The 2022 Washington D.C. Fly-In focused on the Houston Energy Transition Initiative and underscored Houston’s position as the Energy Capitol of the World, and the importance of large-scale infrastructure investments for our region, such as the coastal barrier. The Partnership’s President and CEO, Bob Harvey, and the Partnership’s Public Policy Division successfully facilitated discussions reinforcing the Partnership and its member companies as key resources for policymakers on the global energy transition and infrastructure investments.  Throughout the week, the group met with several members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, the White House and Administration officials, and other stakeholders on issues of energy transition, infrastructure, and the economy.   Photos from the Partnership’s D.C. Fly-In from April 2022 are available here.  April 2022: Washington D.C. Fly-In Highlights The 2022 Washington D.C. trip afforded attendees the opportunity for in-person advocacy and engagement through a series of meetings on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which emphasized Houston’s role in leading the world in the low carbon future and strengthening our region for the future.  Washington D.C. Fly-In: By the Numbers:  Over 60 Attendees Three Days: One day on Capitol Hill and two days hosted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce  Thirteen Congressional Engagements (in order of appearance):  Senator John Cornyn Senator Ted Cruz Representative Al Green  Representative August Pfluger  Representative Lizzie Fletcher  Representative Troy Nehls  Representative Brian Babin  Representative Randy Weber Representative Dan Crenshaw  Representative Jodey Arrington  Representative John Curtis (R-Utah-03)  Representative Sheila Jackson Lee  Representative Kevin Brady  One Briefing with Ukrainian Ambassador Roman Popadiuk One White House Briefing  Two Agency Briefings:  Eric Haxthuasen, Senior Advisor for Climate, Partnerships, and Innovation, USTDA  Lynda Tran, Senior Advisor and Director of Public Engagement, DOT One briefing with Governor Abbott’s Office of State-Federal Relations Four briefings from U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Marty Durbin, President, Global Energy Institute  Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist  John Murphy, Senior Vice President, International Affairs Vince Voci, Vice President, Cyber Policy and Operations Two D.C. based journalist provided insights: Jonathan Martin, National Political Correspondent, New York Times and Abby Livingston, Washington Bureau Chief, Texas Tribune  One Washington Nationals baseball game  The 2022 Washington D.C. Fly-In also provided an opportunity for in-person engagement focused on the energy transition. With the launch of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), the Partnership and its member companies are pursuing federal policies to create high-quality, high-growth jobs. Leveraging members’ expertise, the Partnership works with lawmakers to advance the region’s energy competitiveness and secure Houston’s position as a leader in the global energy transition. Working closely with HETI, the Partnership embraces the dual challenge of the energy transition by meeting growing global demand for energy while lowering emissions. There is a tremendous business opportunity in addressing the dual challenge through developing and scaling technologies, creating, and servicing markets for the global energy mix, and investing in energy priorities. This trip to Capitol Hill further solidified Houston industry as a leader in the energy transition efforts.  Texas as the Best Place to do Business: Texas Tri-City Reception and Dinner Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz joined the Greater Houston Partnership, the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region at a reception Tuesday evening to kickstart the trip.  Senator Cornyn noted that Texas’ economy is back on track after bipartisan efforts were made to address the negative effects of the pandemic.   Senator Cruz highlighted the importance of job growth, remarking that “if energy is prospering and small businesses are prospering, then Texas is prospering.”  Houston Energy Transition Initiative and Congressional Efforts  Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, a member of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, highlighted the importance of engagement by Houston’s energy industry and the Partnership as a trusted source of information on the energy transition. Representing the Houston region, Congresswoman Fletcher noted that Houston has the “deep experience and subject matter expertise” to help diversify our energy sources.  The Partnership heard from Congressman John Curtis (R-Utah-03), who chairs the newly formed Conservative Climate Caucus. This climate caucus believes answers can be “found in innovation embraced by the free market,” and that the United States has prevailed as a global leader in reducing emissions to date because “private sector innovation, American resources, and R&D investment has resulted in lower emissions and affordable energy.” See here.  When speaking on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on European energy, Congressman Curtis emphasized that “permanence” is the key element of Europe’s future energy independence.  Lane Stricker, HETI Executive Director, led a fireside chat with John Dabbar, ConocoPhillips’ Managing Director Low Carbon Technologies, discussing the dual challenge of the energy transition by meeting growing global demand for energy while lowering emissions.  Houston Regional Delegation Congressman Kevin Brady, Ranking Member of the influential House Ways & Means Committee, thanked the Partnership and its member companies for the continued support over his 25-year tenure on Capitol Hill. Congressman Brady is retiring at the end of 2022, and he noted that he is “more hopeful than ever” in the future of our region and our State.  The group heard from Congressman Dan Crenshaw on his efforts to bolster our region through his work on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee spoke to the important work she and her congressional colleagues are doing to ensure Houston continues to thrive.  Congressman Al Green also stopped in to thank the Partnership’s member companies and business leaders for their progress and innovation in the Houston region.  Congressman Troy Nehls, Congressman Brian Babin, and Congressman Randy Weber all spoke to the exceptional collaboration amongst Texas’ congressional delegates and how these strong relationships best serve our region.  Friends of Houston  Congressman August Pfluger, U.S. Representative for Texas's 11th Congressional District encompassing Midland and Odessa, expressed his appreciation for the strong relationship between Houston and his region and highlighted his district’s contribution to Texas’ energy security.  The Partnership also heard from Congressman Jodey Arrington, U.S. representative for Texas' 19th Congressional District encompassing Lubbock and Abilene, on the importance of American energy independence.  Infrastructure Policy: The Coastal Spine and Transportation  The group heard from Coalter Baker, Deputy Director of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations, who emphasized the importance of local elected officials and business to remain connected with the Governor’s office as the State works to draw down federal dollars in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).  Throughout the week, the topic of congressional authorization and funding for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) Coastal Texas Study — also referred to the “Coastal Spine” project — arose in the context of infrastructure dollars. The 2022 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) provides opportunities to advance navigation, flood damage reduction, and ecosystem restoration projects like the Coastal Spine project, and several members of the Texas delegation expressed their support for the project and its necessary funding.  Overall, the 2022 Washington, D.C. Fly-In provided our member companies with a unique opportunity to engage with the Members of Congress and federal agency officials, as well as business leaders, stakeholders, and decision makers working on our top regional issues. These important discussions advance Houston’s energy competitiveness and secure our region’s position as a leader in the global energy transition, and ensure continued infrastructure investments to our state and region. Learn more about the Partnership's Public Policy efforts here.   
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