On June 6, 2019, KPMG and the Center for Houston’s Future brought together senior energy executives, climate experts and other thought leaders for the Houston Low Carbon Energy Summit to start a dialogue on harnessing Houston’s industry expertise to address the transition to a low carbon energy future.
The summit was intended for industry experts to discuss how Houston energy companies can apply our region’s know-how, technical capabilities, and unique industry footprint to create and demonstrate new business opportunities to achieve a low carbon energy future. Areas explored included energy storage and renewable energy, carbon sequestration and usage, methane capture, cleaner fuels, and expanded markets for natural gas.
This conversation focused on Houston’s role in developing solutions to the world’s future energy challenges and sent a clear message that Houston-based energy companies and stakeholders are working to ensure that Houston will remain the Energy Capital of the World, as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Our thesis for the Houston Low-Carbon Energy Summit is that Houston must play a central role in addressing the nation’s, and the world’s, needs for access to abundant, affordable and low carbon energy.
As former Dallas Fed energy economist Bill Gilmer wrote recently, Houston, as the “energy capital of the world,” plays a distinctive global role in the energy industry since it contains the world’s most dense concentration of energy corporations, corporate decisionmakers, major suppliers and technical expertise.
In the last year or so, many energy companies, including a number of Houston-based companies, have begun to work more intensively to decarbonize the energy sector by deploying renewable energy, through new initiatives such as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative and by establishing corporate goals for carbon reduction.
At the same time, Houston ranks as having the second highest amount of GHG emissions in the U.S. and as having one of the highest per capita emissions rates in the country. That’s largely due to high emissions from the transportation sector and industrial uses.
As both one of the largest U.S. carbon emitters but also as a city with the world’s highest concentration of energy industry expertise, we believe now is the time to explore how Houston can develop an economic cluster of suppliers, customers and industrial know-how to focus on decarbonizing the energy value chain.
Houston has already been at the epicenter for two major energy revolutions in less than two decades: the shale revolution that transformed the world’s energy economy and—with the success of ERCOT’s competitive electric market—the growth in 20GW of renewables and the retirement of almost 5GW of coal plants.
Addressing the world’s carbon reduction challenge will require similar types of expertise in areas in which Houston’s energy cluster is an acknowledged leader. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman recently wrote, scale is required to achieve “a green revolution in America [which] can drive innovation, spur new industries and enhance our security.”
In sum, the Houston Low Carbon Energy Summit focused on exploring how we can leverage Houston’s energy ecosystem and use the energy industry’s capital, resources and technical knowledge to create the scale required to address the transition to a low carbon energy future.