Evelyn Wang at 2023 Summit

Why I’m Bringing America’s Energy Innovators Together in Texas

By ARPA-E Director Evelyn Wang

In the heart of Texas, state-of-the-art technology fueled by unprecedented investments are accelerating a new age of American innovation.

While the Lone Star State has long been known for its oil and gas, it’s now emerging as a leader in the transition to renewable energy, contributing to more than a fourth of America’s wind-powered electricity generation. The state’s residential and commercial-use solar is scaling faster than anywhere else in the country. And in 2024, Texas will lead the way in adding battery storage to the grid.

Today, companies are flocking to Texas with cutting-edge energy technologies such as clean hydrogen production and carbon capture.

In other words, Texas is at the center of a historic energy transition taking place in America.

But this transition is highly complex. It involves rethinking the way we generate, use, and store energy. It involves academia and corporations, as well as local and federal governments, working together cohesively. And most importantly, it involves enhancing American innovation.

At the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), our goal is to spur this innovation, which is why we will be hosting our annual Energy Innovation Summit in Dallas. Hosting this event in Texas for the first time is an opportunity to meet the moment and fuse America’s largest energy economy with the world’s leading energy innovators. Texas has the expertise and enthusiasm needed in scaling and deploying large scale energy technologies for the future.

ARPA-E is the Department’s early-stage, disruptive technology R&D arm. Our role is to identify technological gaps and provide support towards solutions that can accelerate American energy independence.

Our impact can be seen in the support of Texas companies like Quidnet Energy. This Houston-based firm is using well-drilling technologies for geomechanical energy storage. Quidnet’s system holds water under pressure, underground, and then releases it to drive hydroelectric turbines when needed. This energy storage helps solve intermittency challenges facing the grid.

Syzygy Plasmonics, another ARPA-E awardee, uses light instead of heat to produce chemicals and fuels sustainably. Their process reduces energy consumption, carbon emissions and operational costs—a benefit for Texans and the environment.

These Texas-based start-ups are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the state’s innovation efforts. Innovators at Texas A&M are 3D-printing advanced resilient building materials. Teams at UT Dallas are working to improve the efficiency of technologies such as electric vehicle motors and floating offshore wind systems. Last year, Rice University hosted ARPA-E’s first-ever “On the Road” event, welcoming our team and sparking engagement with the Houston tech community, energy majors, and local investors.

Finally, in early April, our agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the San Antonio International Airport, University of Texas at San Antonio, and CPS Energy to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies into an electrified airport of the future. Some examples include hybrid-electric aircraft and advanced energy storage solutions that convert existing infrastructure into a self-sufficient microgrid. These technologies will help drive America’s energy independence by enabling affordable, reliable energy for residents, businesses, and transportation.

The local Dallas-Fort Worth area understands the importance of energy affordability better than most. It has had record-breaking growth over the last five years, and projected growth is expected to increase by 30% over the next five years.

Accelerating the adoption of innovative energy technologies across Dallas could address this expected energy demand, provide exciting opportunities for local economic development, and help Texas retain its position as an energy leader.

The ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit will bring together the world’s leading innovators, policy makers, investors and corporate leaders to collaborate and find solutions to the largest challenges facing our energy future. There’s no better place than Texas to reinforce America’s dominance in energy innovation.