Energy 101 Sparks Conversation on Current Issues in Energy Transition

By Angela Jardina

The Energy Coalition held its Energy 101 event earlier this month, highlighted by discussion regarding the current state of the energy transition and the areas of focus for the next generation of industry.

During Energy 101, the Energy Coalition typically reveals plans and opportunities in store for Coogs to connect, learn, and innovate alongside industry through the year. The EC went the extra mile this year, as representation from Shell, the University of Houston’s Energy Transition Institute and the Houston Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Resiliency attended to outline the already present dangers of climate change and the immediate need for clean energy. The event allowed students to ask questions and engage with the panelists.

Following opening remarks from Energy Coalition Chair Abby Chopra and Vice Chair Uchenna Ubeh, the audience viewed a short film called ‘The Rational Middle,’ setting the tone for the evening.

From there, Shell Vice President of Energy Transition Aura Cuellar took the floor, drawing on her international experience to emphasize how the need to learn would be essential to power the energy transition. Cuellar emphasized the important role that technology plays in allowing companies to reduce the production of unclean energy.

“Education is a key aspect to transition,” she said. “We must expand our learning and how we can contribute in different ways. Shell made the decision a couple of years ago to stop new exploration for oil. We are investing in biofuels. [Furthermore,] in California today you can step into a Hydrogen vehicle.”

Representing the Energy Transition Institute, chemical engineer Joe Powell spoke on the key focuses of the institute – hydrogen circularity and carbon management – and the deliverables. The goal of the institute, Powell said, is to provide students with needed hands-on education, top tier research, and industry engagement to solve tomorrow’s problems.

“It’s going to be up to you to find [these new] solutions,” Powell challenged.

Thomas Pommier oversees the Houston Climate Action Plan for the Houston Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability. As one of the panelists, Pommier recounted the Houston area’s recent environmental catastrophes as reasons for urgency in the battle of climate change.

“How many of you were here during [Hurricane] Harvey? How many of you were here during the winter storm? So, most of you know why this is important,” Pommier said, citing that Houston has had seven declared natural disasters in the past seven years.

“If we do nothing, by 2050, the hottest day in Houston could be as hot as 106 degrees,” he said. “Houston has a moral obligation to reduce carbon emissions.”