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Aemetis raising project finance for SAF facility

California renewable fuels company Aemetis is in an advanced process to raise approximately $500m in project financing for its Riverbank sustainable aviation fuel facility.

Cupertino, California-based Aemetis is far along in a process to raise roughly $500m for its Riverbank sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility – the largest of several capital raises the company is pursuing, CEO Eric McAfee said today.

The financing for the Riverbank facility, which just received final permitting authorizations, is expected to include preferred equity as well as senior secured debt financing, he added.

“We are well into a process of project financing,” McAfee said, a process delayed by the permit hindrances, in what will amount to a package in the “half a billion range.”

Shares for publicly-listed Aemetis traded today at $3.26 and a $129m market cap.

For the Riverbank project, Aemetis has already signed a deal for 20-year senior debt financing under the USDA Biorefinery Assistance Program, he said.

“But we have multiple opportunities in senior secured debt and we’ve got a very active customer base among airlines, many of whom have already funded into funds that are dedicated to the growth of SAF production,” he said.

He noted that airlines as well as manufacturers of widebody jets have all joined together to provide  mezzanine or equity financing to support SAF. “And we have active discussions with the largest of those investors,” he said.

The company has signed $3.8bn of final binding supply agreements with 10 airlines and a $3.2bn renewable diesel supply contract with the National Travel Stop Company, executives said on the call. In its five-year plan, Aemetis estimates the Riverbank facility will generate revenue of $672m with adjusted EBITDA of $195m in 2027 from the 90 million gallon plant.

Aemetis also expects to close on $75m of financing for biogas projects, and is also also raising a “little bit” of carbon sequestration financing, McAfee said.

The company generated LCFS credits from its biogas operations for the first time in Q124, 

“In addition to the sale of renewable natural gas as a fuel and the sale of federal D3 RINs, this new LCFS credit revenue stream will only increase as we build new digesters and as the California Resources Board approves the lower carbon intensity values that we have already demonstrated in actual operations ,” Andy Foster, president of North America said.

Though there have been delays in updating the California LCFS regulations for 2024, Foster noted that the California Air Resources Board’s model estimates the regulatory changes will raise the price of LCFS credits to more than $220 per credit in the next two years. The price of the credit has recovered from recent lows and is trading around $67 currently.

“There clearly was a realization that the LCFS credit overhang in the market was causing a serious deterioration in the ability for companies like us to make return on investment and further invest in programs, but also to encourage new investment in the entire renewable sector,” Foster said of the rule changes.

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Exclusive: Modular green ammonia firm eyeing capital raise

A green ammonia firm with distributed modular technology is beginning discussions with advisors for future capital raises. It has $1bn of indicated interest in its global sales pipeline.

Talus Renewables is seeking to scale the deployment of its modular green ammonia offering with an additional capital raise.

The start-up is beginning discussions with potential bankers that could advise on a Series B capital raise, as its pipeline grows for distributed ammonia production systems that it can deliver globally, Co-Founder and CEO Hiro Iwanaga said in an interview.

Image: Talus Renewables

Talus offers containerized systems that produce green ammonia from power, water, and air, in the form of the TalusOne (up to 1.4 tonnes of green ammonia daily) and talusTen (up to 20 tonnes per day).

The company delivered its first system to Kenya Nut Company, a multinational agricultural firm in east Africa, under a 15-year fixed-price ammonia offtake agreement, Iwanaga said. The company has a pipeline of approximately $1bn of indicated interest for ammonia from potential customers, which include large farms and mining companies in several global jurisdictions, including the US.

He declined to comment specifically on how much the company would seek to raise in its next fundraising round, but said, “We have the demand for a $1bn worth of systems.” He added that, though the technology is largely proven, there is a perception of “young company risk” that the firm will need to overcome by delivering and operating its first systems.

Iwanaga, who views the company as a yieldco, required to raise several hundred million dollars every year to deploy its assets, is starting discussions with banks about advisory work for future capital raises.

“I think about our company as an infrastructure company,” he said. “We sign 10- to 15-year-long, fixed-price committed offtake agreements, and these projects earn 10% – 25% unlevered returns.”

A recently completed $22m Series A fundraising will fund the delivery of the next three to four systems before the end of the year, Iwanaga said, stretching Talus’ footprint to Europe and the US, with one more system heading to South America.

The company is deploying to large farms and mining companies, where ammonia is used as a blasting agent. In the US, the company has partnered with agribusiness Wilbur-Ellis and farmer-owned cooperative Landus, Iwanaga said.

Scaling quickly

While many green ammonia projects are popping up around the world, Iwanaga emphasizes that Talus will be able to deliver tons in the next 1 – 2 years, compared to the multi-year project timelines for larger projects requiring more complex supply chains.

“What we’re focused on is improving cost, reliability, and sustainability by driving local production – on-site or near-site production,” Iwanaga said.

Talus has several LOIs for offtake and is working to reach final agreements – work that takes several months at a good site and includes leasing land, permitting, and connecting to power.

The Talus systems are manufactured currently in China, Vietnam, and the US, but the company is moving the majority of its operations out of China and into Vietnam, while some of the Vietnam operations are moving to the US.

The company has partnered with a global auto OEM to lead its manufacturing, which has allowed it to scale quickly.

“Manufacturing a complex, high-temperature, high-pressure gas handling system is very difficult,” he said. “That [OEM] partnership has allowed us to scale in a way that I don’t think very many others have,” he said.

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PCC Hydrogen issues ethanol-to-hydrogen tech

A hydrogen from bio-feedstock provider in Kentucky is marketing itself as a pathway to efficient blue hydrogen and point-of-use production.

PCC Hydrogen has issued its patented technology for converting ethanol into hydrogen, according to a news release.

By capturing the CO2 byproduct of the PCC H2 hydrogen production process, the company can produce a negative carbon index hydrogen product, the release states. PCC is exploring the use of its hydrogen to lower the emissions profile of any heating/calcining process.

The process is being touted to solve for the high cost of H2 transportation, as a lot of existing infrastructure is compatible with ethanol.

“With our conversion technology, ethanol can be a valuable source of hydrogen for distributed generation in locations proximal to the point of use,” CTO Dr. Jeffrey Harrison said in the release. “While the immediate focus is on ethanol as a feedstock, the technology is equally applicable to renewable sources of natural gas from landfills and anaerobic digesters.”

The ability to capture CO2 from the production process opens the door to producing blue hydrogen from conventional natural gas without greenhouse gas emissions, the release states.

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Fuel cell towboat receives U.S. Coast Guard ok

The towboat is being designed as a first-of-its-kind vessel using new, cleaner, fuel cell technology that works by converting stored methanol to hydrogen.

Maritime Partners, LLC, a provider of maritime financing solutions primarily focused on Jones Act vessels, has received a Design Basis Agreement from the U.S. Coast Guard for the M/V Hydrogen One towboat that includes e1 Marine hydrogen generator technology that will be utilized for the vessel’s power plant.

M/V Hydrogen One is being designed as a first-of-its-kind vessel using new, cleaner, fuel cell technology that works by converting stored methanol to hydrogen, according to a news release. The produced hydrogen is output, on-demand, to the fuel cell to generate power for the vessel. A successful string test of this technology was completed in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June 2023, proving it to be a viable option as the sole power generation source for vessel propulsion.

“The signing of this agreement opens the pathway for us to deploy our technological capabilities,” said Bick Brooks, co-founder and CEO of Maritime Partners. “With this, Hydrogen One is one step closer to becoming the world’s first vessel to utilize hydrogen generator technology greatly reducing emissions, increasing efficiency and providing a model for cleaner energy use as the industry continues to seek ways to decarbonize.”

The DBA process was established by the U.S. Coast Guard to set the rules for new and novel technology proposed for installation on marine vessels. Maritime Partners worked with several industry leaders on the Hydrogen One project, including Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group, who is designing the towboat; Bourg, La.-based Intracoastal Iron Works who is the selected shipyard; e1 Marine, RIX Industries, Power Cell Group, among others, in order to work through the U.S. Coast Guard requirements.

“Maritime Partners is strongly committed to developing and utilizing sustainable, clean energy solutions, as the entire maritime industry continues to seek alternative fuel options that are cleaner, greener and more efficient. The development of Hydrogen One is part of that commitment,” said Dave Lee, Maritime Partners’ VP of Technology & Innovation.

The signing of this DBA ensures that as the M/V Hydrogen One project advances Maritime Partners will be working towards an agreed upon framework with the U.S. Coast Guard for the design, arrangement, and engineering aspects of the power system and associated safety systems for plan review, inspection, and eventual certification of the M/V Hydrogen One.

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Exclusive: Methanol electrolyzer start-up gearing up for seed capital raise

An early-stage technology company seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that produces methanol from CO2 at ambient temperature and pressure is preparing its first capital raise.

Oxylus Energy, a methanol technology and project development start-up, is preparing to kick off its first capital raise later this month.

The Yale-based firm is seeking to raise $4m in seed funding, with proceeds funding the advancement of a production-scale CO2-to-methanol electrolyzer cell and its first commercial agreements for offtake, CEO Perry Bakas said in an interview.

Oxylus aims to commercialize an electrolyzer that creates methanol from CO2 at room temperature and pressure, and also plans to develop and operate its own methanol production plants, he said.

The technology, which will scale to larger versions in coming years, recently hit a key milestone with the validation of a 5cm2 platform.

The seed capital raise would provide approximately 26 months of runway, according to Bakas. The company would then raise between $20 – $30m in a follow-on Series A in late 2026.

“What we’re gonna do with the Series A is put that first electrolyzer into the ground,” he said. “It’ll be our first revenue-producing methanol.”

Oxylus is currently owned by Bakas and his fellow co-founders. The company has been entirely grant funded to this point. DLA Piper is advising as the law firm on the seed capital raise.

“I think the most important thing about the technology is it’s the most energy-efficient pathway to making renewable methanol,” he said. “At the right energy prices, you’re below cost parity with fossil-derived methanol. When that happens, I think it’ll become a very interesting development scenario.”

Oxylus is focused on bringing the so-called green premium down to zero, Bakas said, noting that it requires achieving scale in electrolyzer production or partnering with established electrolyzer manufacturers.

Methanol for shipping

Oxylus will seek to introduce its technology into target markets that are already using methanol as a feedstock, like high-value petrochemicals. In the longer term, shipping and aviation are likely to become attractive markets. Taken together, the company believes methanol has the potential to decarbonize 11% of global emissions.

Methanol will compete with ammonia for primacy as a shipping fuel in the future, but Bakas believes methanol is the better option.

“These are massive markets – they need a lot of solutions, and quickly,” he said. “But ammonia is not energy dense, and it doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure.”

The International Energy Agency recently projected that while ammonia will be cheaper to make, methanol is easier to handle, resulting in roughly similar cost profiles for e-methanol and green ammonia. The added cost for methanol production, the report found, is likely to come from a scarcity of biogenic CO2.

On that topic, Bakas acknowledged that the methanol pathway still requires combustion of carbon, but emphasized his technology’s ability to displace existing fossil fuel-based methanol production.

“The distinction we need to make is: are these virgin hydrocarbons or are they recycled hydrocarbons? If you’re just continuously pumping new CO2 out of the ground into the atmosphere, you’re gonna continue to cause climate change,” he said.

“The technologies that we are building in this suite of technologies that cover direct air capture, point source capture, carbon conversion, that whole CCUS world,” he added, “are really working to monitor and create a homeostasis in the atmospheric balance of CO2.”

Oxylus recently completed a lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, Bakas said, finding that its fuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% at optimal voltage compared to natural gas steam methane reforming.

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US clean fuels producer prepping equity and debt raises

A Texas-based clean fuels producer is close to mandating an advisor for a platform equity raise. It has already tapped Goldman Sachs to help arrange a cap stack in the billions for a project in Oregon.

NXTClean Fuels, a Houston-based developer of clean fuels projects, is preparing a $50m to $100m platform equity raise in the near term and has large debt and equity needs for a pair of projects in Oregon, CEO Chris Efird said in an interview.

The company is close to engaging a new financial advisor for the raise, which will launch late this year or early next, Efird said.

Port Westward

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs’ post-carbon group is retained for the capital stack on NXTClean’s flagship project at Port Westward, at the Port of Columbia County, Efird said. The $3bn CapEx (including EPC) project is fully permitted by the State of Oregon and is awaiting one federal Clean Water Act permit. An Environmental Impact Statement is expected this fall.

The project is dedicated to producing a split of renewable diesel and SAF, amounting to roughly 50,000 barrels per day total permitted capacity when fully operational.

FID is expected for roughly August 2024, he said. About 30 months from FID the plant will reach COD.

“What we’re most focused on right now is the true senior debt,” Efird said. On the equity side the company is engaged with strategic partners that have indicated interest in post-FID equity.

NXTClean has conversations ongoing with the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, along with commercial project finance lenders.

Red Rock

In April NXTClean acquired what was the Red Rock Biofuel facility in Lakeview, Oregon. That woody biomass-to-SAF facility foreclosed after $425m in investment, following technical and financial issues brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic. NXTClean purchased the facility for $75m in preferred stock at auction on the courthouse steps.

GLC advisors was retained by lead bondholder Foundation Credit to advise on that process, Efird said.

Red Rock is being repurposed to produce carbon-negative RNG for the adjacent Tallgrass Ruby Pipeline, Efird said. The fully-permitted project has a significant amount of equipment already installed or on skids.

A first phase will require a spend of $100m to $150m. Some $50m of equity will augment a balance of debt, raised in part through USDA programming, Efird said. Cash flow from the first phase will help with the second phase, which will bring the capital needs of the facility up to as much as $400m.

Looking forward

Geographically, NXTClean will expand in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Efird said.

Each of NXTClean’s two projects are held by a separate subsidiary. The company has a third subsidiary called GoLo Biomass that focuses on feedstock aggregation, Efird said. It engages with fish processors in Vietnam and used cooking oil suppliers in South Korea to augment supply from large companies.

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exclusive

Arizona RNG firm seeking equity capital

A renewable natural gas developer with sites proposed in southern California and Arizona is seeking additional equity investors.

True North Renewable Energy Company, a Phoenix-based waste-to-energy developer, is undergoing a Series B equity raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Whitehall & Company is advising, the sources said.

True North develops, builds, and operates organics-to-energy facilities, including large, regional, high solids anaerobic digestion infrastructure, according to its website.

The firm is primarily active in southern California and Arizona. Sites have been announced in Imperial County, Kern County and Mojave (all in California) as well as Yuma County, Arizona. Collectively, these could produce up to 3m mmbtu per annum, using up to 700,000 tons of organic compost from regional farms.

The company is a holding of True North Venture Partners, of Phoenix and Chicago.

TNRE and Whitehall did not respond to requests for comment.

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