Published Dec 10, 2020 by Maggie Martin
The energy industry has faced significant challenges this year with an oil price collapse compounded by an unprecedented drop in demand and a global pandemic. Yet there’s growing evidence that these factors are not only accelerating the energy transition to a more sustainable, lower carbon world, but also creating new, industry-changing opportunities and dramatic shifts in new energy technology adoption.
Key Capture Energy is a prime example of how these trends are playing out in Houston. Founded in 2016, the battery storage company is the largest owner and operator of battery storage projects in Texas with 50 megawatts of operating projects and three projects under construction, totaling 204 MW, including KCE TX 7 in West Texas (pictured on the right).
“Global energy markets are changing rapidly as the electric grids are converging around power – traditionally coal, natural gas and hydro –transportation with oil, and heating with natural gas,” said Jeff Bishop, co-founder and CEO of Key Capture Energy. “Wind and solar potential, coupled with the rapid decline in technology costs, makes clean energy often the lowest-cost option." Bishop said the Texas energy market is no different and is rapidly evolving from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources. "With that transition comes intermittency as wind and solar patterns vary. This creates the need for large-scale battery storage projects provide the missing piece to keep the electric grid stable.”
Key Capture is moving into a new office space in Downtown Houston in the coming months, where many of the company’s analysts, power marketers and project developers are based. Bishop said the growth and development of battery storage in the Energy Capital of the World is driven by Houston’s energy expertise and strong innovation infrastructure.
“Houston understands energy and has all of the elements to be at the forefront of the energy transition – the right infrastructure, workforce, mindset, and entrepreneurial focus. I hope that The Ion in Midtown, combined with Greentown Labs moving in across the street, will lay the foundation for other folks like me to start companies to keep Houston relevant in the energy economy in the decades to come.”
According to global consulting firm IHS Markit, batteries are a key part of the energy transition, providing grid energy storage and electrifying transport. These storage systems have grown significantly in the United States in just the past few years. In 2010, seven battery storage systems accounted for 59 MW of power capacity. By 2018, there were 125 battery storage systems for a total of 869 MW of installed power capacity.
Bishop said battery storage is a natural fit in Texas' broader energy landscape.
“Texas has always been an all-of-the-above energy market. Battery storage is economic in Texas not just because the Lone Star State leads the U.S. in wind generation and is quickly gaining in solar generation, but also because of the increase in electricity demand from West Texas fracking rigs, Gulf Coast petrochemical plants, and a growing number of costal LNG export terminals.”
With 2021 is just a few weeks away, Bishop said the company is already looking at the next few years ahead.
“We remain focused on getting our projects built, securing new offtake contracts for our 2022-2024 projects, and operating our existing projects. We look forward to moving into a new office space in Downtown Houston in the coming months when the pandemic subsides, and continued growth in our Houston-based team, capabilities and revenues.”