by Maria Elena Alamo and Luuk Nijman
Netherlands Business Support Office in Texas, @NBSO Texas
Consulate General of the Netherlands in Miami, @NLinMiami

The partnership between Houston and Rotterdam is almost natural. Both port cities are logistical gateways, energy hubs, and centers of innovation, playing an important role in international trade and investment.

And together they can move the energy transition forward.

That was the goal of a digital trade mission in November that connected the Netherlands and Houston to explore partnerships and business opportunities.

The mission, or Energy 2.0, focused on three technologies to drive the energy transition:

  1. hydrogen
  2. digital innovations
  3. and carbon capture, utilization, and storage

The Consulate General of the Netherlands in Miami and the Netherlands Business Support Office in Texas organized the mission in partnership with Rotterdam Partners, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, and FME, or the Dutch association of enterprises in the industrial sector.

‘Energy capital of the world’

The mission kicked off in Houston, as the “energy capital of the world” is uniquely positioned to lead the energy transition.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner underlined the importance of a just and equitable energy transition and noted the Houston Climate Action Plan. Houston’s energy infrastructure, research. and innovative spirit not only drive Energy 2.0 but also bind it to Rotterdam.

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb echoed this sentiment and talked about both cities’ shared experiences with water and natural disasters. Both cities also have strong traditional energy industries, meaning that moving toward cleaner technologies can be a source of innovation, sustainable economic growth, and jobs.

Greater Houston Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey considered the Netherlands a natural partner for Houston, building on its position as the city’s fifth largest international trading partner.

Mutual cooperation

Rotterdam and Houston demonstrated their commitment to strengthening their mutual cooperation by signing a memorandum of understanding in the presence of both mayors, Consul General of the Netherlands in Miami Ruth Emmerink, Managing Director of Rotterdam Partners Wilbert Lek, and Greater Houston Partnership President Bob Harvey.

This memorandum of understanding will serve as a platform for concrete activities on Energy 2.0, life sciences and health, ports and logistics, and digital technology.

Central to this collaboration is the mutual support of American and Dutch companies in exploring business markets or establishing themselves in one of these port cities.

Besides the energy market, Houston also offers Dutch companies a strategic location. The city is in the perfect position for doing business not only in the United States but also in the rest of North and South America. There are about 50 Dutch companies located in Houston.

Presentations by Google Cloud and Air Liquide conveyed the business opportunities in Houston stemming from digital innovations and hydrogen technologies. This set the stage for Rotterdam, which was in focus on day two of the digital mission.

Rotterdam in business

Port of Rotterdam President and CEO Allard Castelein raised the need to work with companies and seek business opportunities in the shift from traditional hydrocarbon ports to a circular economy.

An investment of $6 billion to $8 billion is needed for Rotterdam to establish the infrastructure for heat exchange, hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

His counterpart, Roger Guenther, Executive Director at the Port of Houston, expressed the intention to work together with Rotterdam on carbon capture, utilization, and storage, and digital innovations optimizing vessel movements.

Representatives from BP, Shell, Porthos, Blocklab, TWTG, Gasunie, Deltalinqs, and Rotterdam Partners further elaborated on these innovative technologies.

The more than 70 participants had the opportunity to network in targeted matchmaking sessions. In the months ahead, the Consulate General in Miami and NBSO Texas will follow up on these connections and explore activities in 2021 that build on the Energy 2.0 partnerships established during the mission.

If you missed the mission, but want to watch a replay of the stream, click here for the discussion about Houston and here for the discussion about Rotterdam