As an established energy industry hub making headway in renewables, Houston, Texas is an example of how cities can catalyse the energy transition.
Authored by Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer, Greater Houston Partnership
Widely regarded as the Energy Capital of the World, Houston is the headquarters and intellectual capital for virtually every segment of the global energy industry. The region employs nearly a third of the nation's energy jobs and is at the forefront of both domestic and international investment in energy and energy technology.
The critical mass created by such a high concentration of companies and thought leaders in one geographic area is yielding great opportunities for our region – and it’s not just in traditional energy. Many may be surprised that Houston companies are very active in the renewables sector.
As the energy industry evolves and the global energy demand curve is ever-increasing, we know a growing share of the energy mix will come from renewables. As renewable energy companies scale their businesses, many are finding that Houston is uniquely suited to help support their growth, in large part because the ecosystem was built around a century of energy activities.
Houston is home to more than 100 solar companies with a significant presence in residential rooftop solar and battery storage. Texas is also the largest wind generating state in the U.S., with more than 30 wind companies operating in Houston.
The city is also poised to lead in the area of carbon capture use and storage. Those who study the pragmatic steps required for society to achieve the zero emissions goal by 2050 recognize the industrial sector has a particularly demanding challenge. Carbon capture and storage will be a key part of the equation. Substantial “negative emissions” will be needed to achieve the global goal of zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and possibly negative emissions beyond 2050. Carbon capture and storage, coupled with direct air capture and biomass power generation, are technologies that can support achievement of these targets.
Houston and its energy industry are well positioned to leverage its know-how and infrastructure to help decarbonize the industrial sector and deliver negative emissions at the scale required to make a difference to the global climate.
Beyond its strengths as an energy industry leader, the City of Houston has long been committed to improving the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Houston is the top municipal purchaser of renewable energy according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2018, the 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of green power accounted for ninety-two percent of the city’s total electric use, ranking the city number eleven across all green power users, ahead of Starbucks and Walmart.
Houston’s energy leaders have also taken a leading role by investing in energy efficiency. According to CoStar, a world leader in commercial real estate information, the Houston region is home to 381 LEED-certified commercial properties, representing 101 million square feet of inventory, or about forty-five percent of Houston’s total commercial inventory. There is another 1.1 million square feet under construction.
The world around us is changing rapidly, and how we respond is critical. As the Energy Capital, Houston’s focus on digitization, renewable forms of energy, and the development of carbon capture management technology will help drive the global energy transition. We look forward to partnering with cutting-edge companies that want to help power the future of energy.