Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner talks exclusively to Gastech News about the City of Houston’s role as a leader in the energy sector and welcoming all attendees to the city in September
When Gastech arrives in Houston in September what can visitors expect to be at the forefront of discussions and debates?
We are in a time of energy transition, when the world is seeking ways to lower carbon emissions and increase energy diversification. This will continue to include oil, but will increasingly involve lower carbon energy sources, including natural gas, wind power and solar.
Houston’s always been a leader in the energy sector, and Houston is positioned to continue to be a leader in this energy transition. The central discussion during this year’s Gastech is can we prepare for the energy needs of tomorrow? Energy use is expected to continue to increase and natural gas will play an important role in filling this critical need. Because of the shale revolution, the U.S. has become a net exporter of natural gas. Houston, and Houston-based companies, are at the forefront of this global expansion, turning a traditional regional market into a global energy source with LNG to help supply tomorrow’s energy.
The city is often billed as “The Energy Capital of the World”. So, can delegates and guests expect a wide range of expertise and innovations to be showcased?
Houston and Houston-based companies have always been at the forefront of innovation, and not just in the energy sector. It is with this innovative spirit that we bring Gastech to Houston as we highlight how our city remains at the forefront of the energy industry. Houston is home to many of the largest energy companies in the world, companies that have transformed the oil and gas industry. Houston, however, also believes in broad definition of energy. Our city government gets more than 90 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. Around 80 per cent of our electricity comes from wind and more than 10 per cent from solar. The state of Texas, home of the shale revolution, is also the largest producer of wind energy in America, something that surprises many people.
In the tech innovation sector, breakthroughs are flowing from Houston companies into startup enterprises and small companies. Houston is building an innovation corridor to help draw new companies in life sciences and related digital fields.
What commitments has the office of the Mayor shown to the gas and LNG industry?
LNG has the potential to help meet rising global energy demands. While natural gas has traditionally been a regional commodity, the rising demand has made large scale investment into LNG a reality. The large number of capital intensive liquification facilities along the Gulf Coast, by companies that call Houston home, is an example of how much this market has changed.
The City of Houston is committed to creating and fostering the economic conditions to build the LNG industry. For one, Houston is the number one port in the U.S. for foreign gross tonnage and supports free trade. We have world-class academic institutions that train the engineers and other experts required to staff LNG companies, and the City of Houston has helped provide incentives to keep these companies and workers here. We are focusing on increasing the quality of life of our city, adding green space, bike lanes, and increased urban living to attract and keep the workforce needed in this industry.
Where do you see the future of gas in the energy mix of the next decade and how is Houston developing renewables?
I am committed to reducing carbon emissions and building a greener, cleaner, and safer City. It is this commitment that has led Houston to be a leader in green energy, and we are going to continue to move forward to stay on top. Houston is home to more than 100 solar energy companies and 30 wind energy companies, and Houston continues to work to build new and innovative ways to reduce energy consumption and the City’s environmental impact.
When the U.S. pulled out of Paris accords, I helped form the Climate Mayors coalition, which supports the accords. I remain a co-chair of this organisation. Houston is building a climate action plan to ensure we continue to reduce our greenhouse emissions and build a more sustainable city. Finally, sustainability and resiliency go hand in hand, and we have joined with the 100 Resilient Cities and other organisations to build a stronger Houston.
What is your personal message to those set to attend?
To all the attendees of the 2019 Gastech Exhibition & Conference, I formally welcome you to the city of Houston. The world’s energy demands are changing and growing, and I hope that by coming to Houston and attending Gastech, you’re able to gain new insights, foster new partnerships and collaborations, and leave the conference even more excited about the future of the industry. While you are here, I invite everyone to experience all that Houston has to offer; from our world class museums, to critically acclaimed food and culinary scene, to our amazing public art, and our wonderful and warm people, Houston has it all. Enjoy your stay, and I’m looking forward to seeing you at Gastech soon.