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Avaada raises $1.07bn from Brookfield Renewable to fund ventures in India

The Mumbai-based green energy developer is in advanced discussions with potential investors to raise another USD $200m.

Avaada Group has raised $1.07bn to fund its green hydrogen and green ammonia ventures in India as a part of its ongoing US$ 1.3bn fund raise plan, according to a news release.

Brookfield Renewable, through its Brookfield GlobalTransition Fund, will be investing up to $1bn in Avaada Ventures Private Limited.

Global Power Synergy Public Company Limited will further invest $68m in Avaada for releasing debt obligations and supporting the growth.

The group is also in advanced discussions with potential investors to raise another US $200m.

“Avaada Group has become future-ready in the global EnergyTransition theme and has diversified into manufacturing of Green Hydrogen, Green Ammonia,” the release states. “The group has also expanded its footprint into the Solar PV supply chain with manufacturing of solar cell and module.”

Avaada currently operates a renewable energy portfolio of about 4 GW with plans to reach 11 GW by 2026.

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Vinson & Elkins adds tax partner from Shearman

V&E has added a California-based tax equity and energy transition partner from Shearman & Sterling.

Vinson & Elkins has added Jorge Medina as a partner in its tax practice.

California-based Medina is a practitioner in tax equity and other transactions across the energy transition, the firm said in a news release. He represents many of the top sponsors and tax equity investors in solar, wind, energy storage, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, carbon capture, geothermal, biofuels and electric vehicle transactions.

Medina joins from Shearman & Sterling, where he was a partner in the firm’s Project Development & Finance Practices and Head of Renewables (Americas). He previously served as associate general counsel-tax at Tesla Inc. and, prior to that, as vice president and deputy general counsel at SolarCity, which was acquired by Tesla.

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Lummus and Biohydrogen Technologies form blue H2 partnership

A cross continental partnership between UK and US entities is meant to develop and deploy blue hydrogen production technologies.

Lummus Technology and Biohydrogen Technologies have an agreement to develop synthesis gas reactor technology to produce blue hydrogen, according to a news release.

Lummus’ Green Circle business unit will provide Biohydrogen Technologies hydrogen and synthesis gas plant design, reactor scale-up and equipment supply.

“This technology is an economically attractive solution to address the large-scale production of blue hydrogen,” the release states.

The partnership is meant to allow bulk hydrogen production from natural gas.

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Global Clean Energy takes USDA grant for feedstock project

A $30m pilot project is meant to accelerate the market for camelina sativa as a feedstock for sustainable fuels, as demonstrated in a biofuels refinery in southern California.

Global Clean Energy Holdings and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have signed a contract for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Grant for their Climate-Smart Camelina Project, according to a news release.

With the signing, work can officially begin on their $30m pilot project to measure and validate the advantages of Camelina sativa (camelina) as an ultra-low carbon nonfood renewable fuel feedstock.

Climate-Smart Camelina is a large-scale pilot project to implement, measure, and validate the climate advantages of camelina in both rotational (fallow acres) and winter crop (e.g., in a double-crop rotation) production systems.

The project is meant to accelerate farmers’ adoption of camelina grown to produce feedstock for renewable biofuels and chemicals without causing land-use change and while increasing carbon capture in the soil.

Further, the project is meant to support market development to provide additional revenue streams to growers and provide a premium for this low carbon intensity crop.

Global Clean Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Sustainable Oils, Inc., contracts directly with farmers to grow camelina currently in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington.

Camelina grain is refined in the company’s Bakersfield Renewable Fuels refinery in California.

The USDA Climate-Smart Commodities announcement can be accessed here.

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Pharma and fuels tech provider could be ready for public listing

International biotechnology firm Insilico Medicine is applying the algorithms that produce novel drugs to synthesizing more sustainable petrochemical fuels and materials.

Insilico Medicine, a global biotechnology firm serving the pharmaceutical and carbon-based energy industries, could be ready for a public listing in the next phase of its corporate evolution.

Insilico, founded in Baltimore and now based in Hong Kong, has raised about $400m in private capital to date and is in the position of a company that would be exploring a public listing in the US and Hong Kong, CEO Alex Zhavoronkov said in an interview. He declined to say if he has hired a financial advisor to run such a process but said a similar company in his position would have.

The generative AI platform that the company uses to produce novel drugs can be applied to produce more sustainable carbon-based fuels, Zhavoronkov said. The objective is to maximize btu and minimize CO2, making the fuels burn longer and cleaner.

Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco is a user of the technology and participated in Insilico’s $95m Series D (oversubscribed and split between two sub-rounds) last year through its investment arm Prosperity7.

Petrochemistry is going to be needed well into the future, Zhavoronkov said. In addition to renewable energy and other ESG efforts, the efficiency of petrochemicals should be a top priority.

“If you burn certain petrochemicals in certain combinations, you can achieve a reasonably clean burn and an energy efficient burn,” he said. For specific tasks like space travel or Formula 1 racing, combined fuels produce the necessary torque, and generative chemistry can achieve those objectives in a more sustainable way. “I think that we can make the world significantly cleaner just by modifying petrochemical products.”

The technology can also be used to make organic matter in petrochemical products degrade more quickly, which is useful in the case of plastics, Zhavoronkov said.

The company’s AI is primarily based in Montreal and in the drug discovery business in China, but fuel research takes place in Abu Dhabi. Zhavoronkov said he has hired a lot of “AI refugees” from Russia and Ukraine to work at the latter location. The company has 40 employees in the UAE and will likely scale to 70.

Insilico is capitalized for the next two years or so, he said. That doesn’t account for revenue, which closed at just under $30m in 2022. The petrochemical and materials business is under the AI research arm of the business, which is covered by funds raised to date.

“Our board would probably not allow me to reinvent myself as an energy play,” Zhavoronkov said. But the board does not object to applying resources to petrochemical products.

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Caliche CEO talks hydrogen and CO2 storage expansion

Following the acquisition of assets in Texas and California, Caliche Development Partners CEO Dave Marchese discusses opportunities for growth in the hydrogen and C02 storage market.

Caliche Development Partners II has made a pair of acquisitions with the aim of expanding into growing hydrogen and CO2 storage markets in Texas and California, CEO Dave Marchese said in an interview.

The company, which is backed by Orion Infrastructure Capital and GCM Grosvenor, this week announced the purchase of Golden Triangle Storage, in Beaumont, Texas; and the anticipated acquisition of Central Valley Gas Storage, in Northern California – two regions with increasing demand for storage to support variable power loads, natural gas liquefaction, and high penetrations of renewable resources.

Caliche and seller Southern Company did not use financial advisors for the transaction. Caliche used Willkie Farr as its law firm for the financing and the transactions.

Marchese, who has a private equity background and first worked on a successful investment in a fuel cell company in the year 2000, has also racked up years of experience investing in and operating underground storage assets. The Caliche team developed and sold a natural gas liquids and helium storage business – called Coastal Caverns – earlier this year.

“We know how to put things underground and keep them there, including very small molecules, and we have relationships with many of the customers that are using hydrogen today,” he said.

Roughly a third of the industrial CO2 emissions on the Gulf Coast come from the Golden Triangle area, a region in Southeast Texas between the cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange. Much of this CO2 comes from the steam methane reformers that are within 15 miles of Caliche’s newly acquired Golden Triangle asset, Marchese said. The site is in similar proximity to pipelines operated by the air companies – Air Products, Air Liquide, and Praxair – that run from Corpus Christi to New Orleans.

“We’re within 15 miles of 90% of the hydrogen that’s flowing in this country today,” he added. “Pipeline systems need a bulk storage piece to balance flows. We can provide storage for an SMR’s natural gas, storage for its hydrogen, and we can take away captured CO2 if the plant is blue.”

The Golden Triangle site, which sits on the Spindletop salt dome, has room and permits for nine caverns total, with two currently in natural gas service. Three of those caverns are permitted for underground gas storage. “We could start a hydrogen well tomorrow if we had a customer for it,” Marchese said.

The Central Valley assets in Northern California are also positioned for expansion, under the belief that the California market will need natural gas storage for some time to support the integration of renewables onto the grid, he said. Additionally, the assets have all of the safety, monitoring and verification tools for sequestration-type operations, he added, making it a good location to start exploring CO2 sequestration in California. “We think it’s an expansion opportunity,” he said.

“Being an operator in the natural gas market allows us to enter those other markets with a large initial capital investments already covered by cash flowing business, so it allows us to explore incrementally the hydrogen and CO2 businesses rather than having to be a new entrant and invest in all the things you need to stand up an operation.”

Caliche spent $186m to acquire the two assets, following a $268m commitment from Orion and GCM. The balance of the financial commitment will support expansion.

“We’re capitalized such that we have the money to permit, build, and operate wells for potential CO2 sequestration customers,” he said. “The relationship with these stable, large investors also meets the needs of expansion projects: if somebody wanted not only a hydrogen well but compressors as well, we have access to additional capital for underwritten projects to put those into service.”

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Canadian renewables major eyeing hydrogen production at pumped hydro facility

Canadian power generation giant TransAlta could co-locate hydrogen production with select wind and hydroelectric facilities.

TransAlta, the Canadian power generator and wholesale marketing company, is contemplating a buildout of hydrogen production capabilities at its 320 MW Tent Mountain pumped hydro storage project in Alberta, Executive Vice President of Alberta Business Blain van Melle said in an interview.

“Our view on hydrogen is that it’s a technology that’s an option, somewhat further out in the future, particularly when it comes to power generation,” van Melle said. “If we can offer our customers maybe a power and hydrogen solution, and they’re using the hydrogen in another process, that would be something we would look at.”

In early 2022 TransAlta made a CAD 2m equity investment in Ekona Power, a methane pyrolysis company based in Vancouver. The company also committed USD $25m over four years to EIP’s Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund 1.

That latter investment is a way to continue to learn about hydrogen and have exposure to emerging technologies, van Melle said.

The recent 50% stake acquisition in the Tent Mountain project includes the intellectual property associated with a 100 MW offsite green hydrogen electrolyzer and a 100 MW offsite wind development project.

Having hydrogen production co-located with wind and pumped hydro storage could make sense for the company in a few years, van Melle said. FID on Tent Mountain could be reached sometime in 2025 and will require the company to secure a PPA offtake and determine capital cost. Development work will take three to four years and earliest construction could begin in 2026.

The company has not had discussions with potential offtakers, van Melle said, adding that development on the pumped hydro facility needs to mature before a hydrogen component advances.

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