Houston could be at the forefront regarding energy transition efforts. Despite its long tradition in oil and gas activities, the city is expected to develop, implement, and export large-scale clean energy technologies in the years to come.
In that regard, industry experts foresee the city to become the future capital for energy transition globally. Which are the factors that enable Houston to receive such good perceptions from the best in the sector?
Leaders agree on conjuncture, geological, infrastructure, and political advantages.
RGF 23rd Annual Forum
At the 23rd Annual Rice Global Engineering & Construction Forum, industry leaders shared their perspectives on the energy industry’s current trends.
Therefore, panelists discussed the COVID-19 consequences for the sector, shared some keynotes regarding project execution; analyzed political and economic factors surrounding the industry environment; and talked about the importance of carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technologies in decarbonization efforts.
From the event’s analyses, one key conclusion emerged: Houston is on the way to be crucial to energy transition efforts and project execution.
Houston’s key advantages
First, participants agreed Houston was well prepared in terms of infrastructure and experience for COVID-19 pandemic’s requirements. According to some of them, the 2017 Hurricane Harvey’s expertise set a substantial ground of know-how for remote and scaled-work activities in the city.
Also, given the current global conjuncture, the city has the opportunity to globalize its position. In a world scenario where many countries are looking for high amounts of energy quickly, the Houston Coast Line could provide this.
In that sense, it will be crucial for Houston to globalize its energy transition technologies. Isolated decarbonization processes in Europe or the U.S. won’t solve the bigger global warming picture. For this reason, experts at the forum recommended Houston companies to ship their technologies to the developing world.
Second, experts recognized the geological advantages the Gulf Coast has for oil and gas exploitation and CCUS and hydrogen-related activities. Houston, joint with several other Texas and Louisiana cities, has the potential to provide hydrogen leadership.
According to Houston’s Geological Society, the city’s surface is considerably rich in salt. This resource creates salt domes allowing management of oil and gas capturing and future electrolysis activities.
In that regard, participants added that in the following years, hydrogen would be heavily required to replace other clean energy solutions (such as renewables, batteries, and clean-electrification technologies), providing reliable and sustainable large-amounts of energy.
Houston and execution of projects
Although the city has geological and know-how advantages to face severe conjunctures such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the projects is crucial for Houston to convert itself into a global leader for the energy transition. To execute reliable projects will be a high priority for the city.
Besides, at the Rice Global E&C Forum, several leaders agreed the city would need to attract the future workforce through well-executed and socially-committed projects.
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Furthermore, leaders think more partnering with contractors and joint ventures will be needed to achieve clean energy project completion.
Finally, another factor will be the political one. Experts shared that under the next administration, the energy transition will be heavily promoted nationally. Therefore, Houston will have local and federal support to enhance its global position as a leader in this effort – the opportunities are alive, so the city only needs to seize them wisely.