The TxEnergyUpdate keeps you up to date on the energy sector's latest news and stories
NATIONAL ENERGY NEWS
Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson are a few noteworthy investors of Form Energy, a rechargeable battery start-up company that uses iron, oxygen, and water in a process where “the battery charges and discharges by converting iron back and forth to rust.” Form hopes its battery will lower costs to less than $20 per kilowatt, versus a lithium battery that can range from $100-$200 per kilowatt. Form recently raised $240 million in its latest round of fundraising despite choosing not to release any performance data. However, the California Energy Commission, which gave Form a $2 million grant, seems confident that the technology has promise. Form has also received $3.8 million from the Federal Department of Energy to pursue sulfur battery technology.
NBC reports that SolarReviews.com is seeing increased traffic as homeowners seek reliable on-site sources of energy for their homes. This summer the website saw a 358% increase in estimate requests from California and a 919% increase in estimate requests from Oregon. They even saw an 850% increase in solar estimate requests in Texas after Winter Storm Uri in February. Founder Andy Sendy says after being left in the dark, homeowners are now looking past traditional solar roof panels and investing in on-site battery storage. The trend is likely to continue as homeowners seek to take control of their power reliability: “Goldman Sachs predicts the market for home energy storage will hit $1 billion for the first time in 2022.”
TEXAS ENERGY NEWS
Talos Energy Inc. and Carbonvert Inc. have won a bid to create an offshore carbon capture site near Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. The new carbon capture project is in partnership with the General Land Office (GLO), which will lease over 40,000 acres of Texas state waters to facilitate the project. This deal is significant as Talos Energy and Carbonvert will “become among the first independent U.S. energy companies with an identified site dedicated to carbon sequestration.” Keep tabs on this project; many experts speculate that the Gulf Coast is the future hot spot for carbon capture projects.
Elon Musk and Tesla want to start selling electricity to the Texas grid. On August 16th, Tesla Energy Ventures applied to the Public Utility of Texas (PUC) “to become a retail electricity provider.” This is the next logical step for Tesla since buying Solar City in 2016 and constructing energy storage facilities “that could function on the scale of an energy utility.” We will follow and update this story as Tesla Energy Ventures moves through the PUC regulatory process.
- Public Utility Commission of Texas Meeting - September 2nd
Today, September 2nd, the Public Utility Commission of Texas will stream an open meeting. In the meeting the PUC will review various applications relating to water, communications, and electricity. This also includes the “discussion and possible action regarding implementation of state and federal legislation affecting” water, communications, and electricity. The meeting will also include a report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
MEANWHILE IN CALIFORNIA...
California recently updated its building code to require new buildings and homes to be constructed with solar panels and batteries, and to “switch from heaters that use natural gas to heat pumps that run on electricity.” But some fear the mandate will drive up construction costs as a median single-family home in California already “sells for more than $800,000 compared to about $360,000 nationwide.” These costs will drive out new home buyers already struggling to find affordable housing by placing the $10,000-$20,000 solar panel and battery cost square on their shoulders. But California officials like Energy Commission member Andrew McAllister believe that the additional cost is just mandating a growing trend. He says it will “go down easier” for new home buyers, saying “many homeowners and businesses are already buying solar panels and batteries.”
Hydropower continues to suffer in western states as drought conditions intensify. Specifically, California is struggling as it “typically relies on hydropower to fill 15% of its power needs.” It’s also influencing the credit ratings of hydropower utilities: “Hydropower producers like the Sacramento Municipal Utility District are on the hook for replacing lost hydropower with other sources, while the Middle Fork Project Finance Authority, a hydropower wholesaler that is also in California, will have less revenue to cover its debt service.” Jim Stewart, a member of the Sierra Club California Energy- Climate Committee, believes California will reach its goal to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030” by bringing more power in via solar and wind, even as California continues to supplement its grid from out of state producers like Vistra and Calpine.