I'm in Texas to see the future

Hello from Texas! I'm in Corpus Christi and Houston this week to meet with the remarkable innovators shaping America's clean energy future. It's going to be a great trip.

If you want to see what the next generation of clean energy innovation looks like, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place than Texas. Amazing companies are breaking ground not just here in Southeast Texas, but across the state. Each one is a huge boon to the local economy, America's energy security, and the fight against climate change.

The world is currently undergoing an energy transition fueled by the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies. The pace of innovation behind this transition is happening faster than many people (myself included) dared to hope. The progress makes me optimistic about the future and excited about the role that American communities will play, especially in places like Texas. Breakthrough Energy and I have invested more than $130 million in Texas-based entrepreneurs, institutions and projects. It's a big bet, but one I'm confident in.

Why? Because of the people. Nearly half a million Texans work in the oil and gas industry, and their skills are directly transferable to the next generation of industry. This workforce will help form the backbone of the world's new clean energy economy, and it will strengthen Texas' energy leadership for generations to come.

Many of the companies I see on this trip are already hiring or planning to hire oil and gas workers. One of those companies is Infinium, which is working on the next generation of clean fuels for trucks, ships and even airplanes. I visit their first demonstration plant in Corpus Christi, where they turn waste CO2 and renewable energy into electric fuel or e-fuels for trucks. They already have a deal with Amazon and soon if you live in the area you can get delivery powered by Infinium eDiesel.

The key to Infinium's approach is that their fuel can be dropped into existing engines. That's huge. That means companies won't have to adapt their fleets, removing one of the biggest barriers to switching to new fuels. I'm particularly excited about the work they're doing on sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, which the company estimates can reduce emissions from air travel by up to 90 percent. Infinium is in the process of converting an old gas-to-liquids plant in West Texas to a new facility that will increase the company's capacity to produce eVuels tenfold. Breakthrough Energy's Catalyst program has invested in this first-of-its-kind plant, and I can't wait to see it complete.

Another company I would look at is Mars Materials. They are the Breakthrough Energy Fellows project working on a different way to reuse CO2. The company is developing a clever technique to turn captured carbon into one of the key components of carbon fiber, an ultra-lightweight, super-strong material used in everything from clothing to car frames. (If you've never played pickleball with a carbon fiber racquet, I highly recommend giving it a try – you won't believe how much power you get from your shots.) and the gas talent they could access in the state, and they're not the first Breakthrough Energy company to do this. I'm going to check out their lab where their scientists are hard at work optimizing the conversion process.

Both of the companies I just mentioned turn CO2 into useful products. Their business models assume that they will have access to a lot of carbon. Fortunately for them, Texas is also in the process of becoming the capital of direct aerial capture. DAC is the process of removing carbon directly from the air. The captured carbon can either be captured underground or reused by companies such as Infinium and Mars Materials. A recent study found that Texas has the largest DAC deployment potential in the country and could add up to 400,000 jobs by 2050.

DAC is the fire extinguisher of clean energy technologies. it's something you hope you never need, but you need to be prepared if (and when) you do. In an ideal world, we would adopt clean energy so quickly that we would not need to remove carbon from the air. In reality, this did not happen. We already have decades of legacy emissions to clean up, so we need a sizeable DAC industry.

During my visit, I will meet with local business and community leaders involved in the development of the DAC Hub in Kingsville, Texas. The Hub is the brainchild of Occidental's 1PointFive and will bring nearly 2,500 jobs to the community over the next five years. I was an early investor in direct air capture technology and it's great to see it grow from concept to real economic opportunity for the local community.

The DAC project was selected for a grant from the Department of Energy as a result of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. Having participated in some of the early discussions of clean energy bills a few years ago, I am amazed at how much progress has been made since then and am eager to meet the people who are driving it forward. DAC Hubs is a perfect example of how innovation can and should work. Private investors take risks by developing breakthrough innovations that are then scaled up through a mix of public and private investment.

It's going to be an exciting few days. I look forward to meeting with the leaders of the many companies supported by Breakthrough Energy located in the region. I will be speaking about the enormous potential I see in the clean industry at CERAWeek, one of the largest annual energy conferences in the United States. I'm also going to learn more about the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub being developed in the area, and I'll tour Air Liquide's hydrogen plant in La Porte. Their plant uses steam methane reforming to create hydrogen fuel for industry and will be retrofitted in the coming years to eliminate its emissions. (As I've written before, hydrogen will play a key role in the energy transition.)

All of the companies I'll be seeing in Texas this week are at the heart of the energy transition. They drive innovation, bring good jobs to their communities and boost the American economy. If you want a glimpse into our nation's clean energy future, you need to head down to the Lone Star State.

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