As the Energy Capital of the World, Houston has the ability to lead the global energy transition to a more efficient and sustainable, lower-carbon future while simultaneously accommodating demand growth.
To explore how Houston is prepared to meet the challenge, the Partnership hosted the inaugural Illuminate Houston: An Innovation Conversation event on November 5. The HYPE virtual event centered around emerging technologies in the cleantech industry that are happening right here in the Houston region.
John Berger, Chairman, President and CEO of Sunnova, a leading residential solar and energy storage service provider, shared the latest information and trends in new energy technology, and how these emerging technologies will impact the way we do business now and in the future. Berger also talked about how his entrepreneurial background has helped him grow Sunnova to be one of the top commercial solar energy companies in the industry.
Here are a few takeaways:
- Solar is one of the fastest-growing cleantech industries. The energy business is rapidly changing. Solar panels are creating a virtual or wireless network of power that can be sold back to support the overall regional grids while giving a better-priced, cleaner energy source for the customer.
- As a fast-growing industry, there is also a lot of room for job growth and opportunity. "Solar is growing faster than anything else in the energy business. From lawyers to electricians, marketing, engineers, and IT, we need a lot of different skill sets to grow the business," Berger said.
- Houston is the best place to build a business. The city understands energy and the energy business - not just exclusively the oil and gas business. Berger said that's why it was important for Sunnova to have their headquarters here. "Houston has a low cost of living, is very entrepreneurial and the diversity is huge," he said.
- Diversity is the key to growth. “Sunnova is not Sunnova without diversity,” said Berger. When he founded Sunnova in 2012, the company’s leadership team wanted a diverse workforce to bring new ideas and new strategies to the table. Berger touted Sunnova’s diversity as the reason that they were able to rapidly expand to different markets.
- Berger also expressed that the company still has the same challenges in diversity that many companies face when it comes to a diverse board of directors. He said Sunnova is dedicated to have a board that reflects the diversity of the company's workforce.
- Traditional oil and gas companies and clean energy tech companies must work together. As technology moves forward, the clean energy companies and traditional oil and gas companies must innovate together to meet the challenges of the global energy transition.
Click here to learn more about Houston's solar energy industry and how Houston is leading the global energy transition. Learn more about the Partnership's HYPE program.