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Avina and Chart partner on green hydrogen plant in Southern California

Chart will supply their Howden compressors for Avina's state-of-the-art green hydrogen facility in Southern California.

Avina Clean Hydrogen Inc., a developer of electrolytic hydrogen plants, is proud to announce a partnership agreement with Chart Industries, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of equipment for the entire hydrogen supply chain, according to a news release.

Under the terms of the agreement, Chart will supply their Howden compressors for Avina’s state-of-the-art green hydrogen facility in Southern California (USA). The gaseous hydrogen will be compressed and used to decarbonize heavy-duty trucks, marking a significant milestone as the region’s first green hydrogen plant. Chart’s Howden diaphragm “D” series compressors will enable the safe and efficient transportation of compressed gaseous hydrogen, ensuring its availability as a clean fuel source for heavy-duty trucks throughout Southern California.

The partnership’s efforts will drive the expansion of sustainable transportation infrastructure and establish Southern California as a leader in green hydrogen. “Avina is proud to work with Chart on this first-of-its-kind green hydrogen project in Southern California, deepening our partnership,” said Vishal Shah, founder and CEO, Avina Clean Hydrogen Inc. “Chart’s Howden compressors are best in class, ensuring the reliability and high quality of Avina’s green hydrogen for commercial mobility and other markets in California.”

Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart said “Our partnership with Avina showcases Chart’s expertise in designing and delivering cutting-edge hydrogen solutions across the entire hydrogen value chain. With a rich history of over 100 years in hydrogen compression leadership, our solution for this project focuses on ensuring the safety and efficiency of hydrogen compression, while providing ongoing support to optimize plant performance and reliability. This project is another testament to Chart’s expertise in developing and delivering innovative yet cost-effective hydrogen technologies.”

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Fuel cell startup raises seed capital

The capital will be used to expand on the team’s growth with engineers coming from Siemens Energy, Argonne National Lab, and The US Navy, among other places.

Celadyne, a decarbonization and hydrogen solution company, has raised $4.5m in seed investment funding. The round was co-led by Maniv and Dynamo Ventures, with major participation from EPS Ventures, according to a news release.

The company collaborates with fuel cell and utility firms, offering efficient hydrogen solutions to heavy-duty industries such as energy, manufacturing, and transportation. Celadyne’s advanced technologies effectively convert hydrogen to usable energy through compact, easy-to-use fuel cells that seamlessly integrate.

“At Celadyne, our mission is simple: unlocking the true potential of hydrogen,” says Gary Ong, Ceo & Founder at Celadyne Technologies. “This new funding will accelerate our product in the market as we aim to decarbonize industries like transportation and manufacturing, offering a cost-effective route for green hydrogen production. Our goal is to embrace these industries, helping them contribute positively to the planet.”

Specifically, Celadyne’s materials and technologies replace the proton exchange membrane to create fuel cells that are more durable, and electrolyzers that are more compact and efficient. This newfound durability allows fuel cells to be utilized as an environmentally-friendlier alternative to diesel engines, and makes electrolyzers that produce low cost green hydrogen as fuel.

This latest funding will expand upon capital from Shell Ventures, Sputnik ATX, the Third Derivative Accelerator, and Sandy Spring Climate Partners. Celadyne has been publicly and financially supported for their world-changing hydrogen applications through grants from the US Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, ARPA-E, and Department of Defense – AFWERX. These entities, along with Celadyne’s customers, who are Tier 1 automotive leaders shaping the future of mobility worldwide, believe that advanced materials hold the key to unlock the full potential of hydrogen.

This latest funding will expand upon previous capital from Shell Ventures, Sputnik ATX, and the Third Derivative Accelerator and Sandy Spring Climate Partners. The capital will be used to expand on the team’s growth with engineers coming from Siemens Energy, Argonne National Lab, The US Navy, Micron Technologies, Hyzon Motors, and Northwestern University. The team will support the ongoing development of Celadyne’s materials technology, to create even better fuel cells and expand its usage in electrolysis across its growing list of clients across the US. By year end, Celadyne expects to double its customer base and these developments will open up a whole new world for green energy applications in industries that are historically some of the harshest on the environment.

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American Airlines invests in hydrogen-electric engine developer

American Airlines has invested in ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric, zero-emission aviation.

American Airlines has invested in ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric, zero-emission aviation, according to a press release.

In addition to the investment, a memorandum of understanding provides American the opportunity to order up to 100 engines from ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric powertrain development program. The engines are intended to power regional jet aircraft with zero emissions.

“Our investment in ZeroAvia’s emerging hydrogen-electric engine technology has the potential to play a key role in the future of sustainable aviation,” said Derek Kerr, American’s chief financial officer. “We are excited to contribute to this industry development and look forward to exploring how these engines can support the future of our airline as we build American Airlines to thrive forever.”

ZeroAvia is working to achieve certain type certifications of its innovative propulsion technology that will pave the way for the engines to be incorporated into the regional jet market in the future. The ZA2000-RJ powertrain is anticipated to enable passengers to fly in zero-emission regional jets as early as the late 2020s.

“Having support from the world’s largest airline is a strong indication of the progress we’re making on the development of hydrogen-electric, zero-emission flight,” added ZeroAvia Founder and CEO Val Miftakhov. “We are focused on delivering sustainable travel, and are delighted that American, a visionary leader in the industry, sees ZeroAvia as a part of the future of aviation.”

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Holland & Knight adds partners with hydrogen focus

The firm hired a team of nine energy industry partners from Eversheds.

Holland & Knight has hired a team of nine energy industry partners from Eversheds, according to a press release.

The team is led by energy and renewables partner Ram Sunkara in Houston and tax partner Amish Shah in Washington, D.C.

Sunkara has an industry-recognized multidisciplinary practice advising clients on complex mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, tax equity transactions, project development and construction matters and structured commodity transactions across the electric energy (with a specific focus on renewables and renewable natural gas), oil and gas, transmission and storage, hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration, mining and metals, timber, chemicals and natural resource industries.

Shah provides sophisticated and practical tax advice to clients making investments in the energy sector or seeking to achieve ESG goals, including with respect to production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) for renewable power, alternative fuels, carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage, hydrogen, biogas property, nuclear and other technologies incentivized through tax credits (including through the Inflation Reduction Act). He represents energy clients in seeking legislative and regulatory changes; in maximizing the value of tax credits, including through “begun construction” strategies; in project development, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and tax equity investments; and in tax controversy at the administrative, trial court and appellate levels.

The group also includes partners Jackson Allen and Kyle Wamstad in Atlanta; Joshua Belcher and Ronnie Dabbasi in Houston; Madeleine Tan in New York; and Alexander Holtan and Susan Lafferty in Washington, D.C. The team’s experience includes corporate transactions, power purchase agreements, project finance and development, equity and debt financing, general tax planning, energy-related tax credits, tax controversy, regulatory and environmental.

The move follows Holland & Knight’s 2021 merger with Thompson & Knight, a Texas-based firm and leader in the energy industry, as well as multiple lateral energy and renewable partner additions over the past several years, the release states. Holland & Knight’s Energy and Natural Resources Group includes more than 220 lawyers in key markets throughout the U.S. and in Mexico and Colombia.

“Since 2018, one important aspect of our business strategy has been to strengthen our energy practice,” said Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight. “The addition of this exceptional team, combined with the strength of the former Thompson & Knight lawyers, our partners in Bogotá and Mexico, as well as other recent partner additions, positions us to provide a full range of services to the international energy industry. Ram, Amish and their team will help us compete for the most sophisticated work across all areas of the industry.”

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Exclusive: Australian fuels producer looking for US development partners

An Australian fuels producer and concentrated solar power developer partnered with German and US fossil interests is developing its first US clean fuels project in Texas, and is looking for development partners with eyes on the greater southwest.

Vast Energy, the Australia-based and NASDAQ-listed concentrated solar power (CSP) developer and fuels producer, is in the early stages of developing a project near El Paso, Texas – the company’s first in the US – and is seeking US development partners to generate a pipeline of projects throughout the country, CEO Craig Wood said in an interview.

Vast is in process with two projects in Port Augusta, South Australia: VS1, a 30 MW solar/8 MWh storage plant, and SM1, a demonstration solar-to-methanol plant co-located with VS1, producing up to 7,500 mtpa of green methanol from VS1 electricity and heat with extra power available on the grid.

VS1 is scheduled for FID in 3Q24 with FID on SM1 coming the following quarter, Wood said.

Vast recently announced funding agreements with German partner Mabanaft for up to AUD $40m for SM1, after the SM1 project was selected last year as a part of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE).

Methanol from the $80m SM1 will in part be exported to Germany. Vast is also working with EDF to provide additional financing, Wood said.

“Essentially it’s going to be debt free and on balance sheet,” Wood said.

German container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd recently signed an MOU with Mabanaft to explore options for the supply of ammonia as bunker fuel to Hapag-Lloyd in the Port of Houston.

US opportunity

In the US, where Vast listed to be primed for opportunistic growth, the company has a shortlist of locations around El Paso, has engaged with regional economic development leaders, and held early talks with EPC providers, Wood said.

The El Paso project is being developed in conjunction with Houston-based oil and gas drilling business Nabors Industries, Wood said. Nabors backed the SPAC that took Vast public at a valuation of up to $586m in early 2023. Its current market cap is $64m.

There are ongoing discussions on whether to produce eSAF or methanol in El Paso, Wood said.

To produce eSAF, Vast would use a solid-oxide electrolyzer coupled with the Fischer-Tropsch process, Wood said. Meanwhile, the methanol distillation process lends itself well to Vast’s ability to produce low-cost heat.

CSP has a lower level of embedded carbon than any renewables technology other than wind, Wood said.

“The work that we have done to date indicated that you would most likely power an eFuels project with a CSP plant that was configured to operate in the day and night,” Wood said.

As for project costs, envisioning a project producing some 200 million liters per annum, roughly $3bn would be needed for the power station, and then half that for the infrastructure to make the fuels.

Preliminary offtake for the El Paso project is going to be critical for attracting investment, Wood said. Offtake will depend on the type of fuel produced, though conversations are ongoing with shipping companies (methanol) and airlines (eSAF).

“We’re not expecting to have any problem placing the product,” Wood said. Offtake would likely be targeted for the Port of Los Angeles, LAX airport, the ports of the Gulf Coast, or Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Development of CSP makes sense anywhere climate is sunny and hot, Wood said. The company could logically expand into more of West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California.

The region around Farmington, New Mexico is particularly attractive for CSP development, Wood said. As a huge amount of coal-fired capacity in that area is retired, those interconnections, workforces and resources are ripe for repowering.

The turbines that one of those coal fired power stations would have is the same turbine at the core of Vast’s technology, Wood said. One difference is that Vast’s can be turned on and off quickly.

Development partnerships 

There is an opportunity for Vast to find a development partner, or partners, to stand up a pipeline of projects in two to three years’ time, Wood said.

“Almost everyone wants to wait until our project in Port Augusta reaches COD,” Wood said. “But we don’t want to wait that long to be developing projects in the US.”

Vast is capable of building CSP plants, which can be configured to operate in the day and night, co-located with existing larger-scale solar pv to provide additional generation and, critically, storage, Wood said. By directing sunlight to receivers and heating molten salt, CSP can store energy for 12-to-20 hours overnight to alleviate solar pv’s intermittency issues.

“Coming along and essentially retrofitting complementary CSP next to those [pv plants], we think is a very sensible way to go, both in terms of shared cost but also in terms of managing incremental transmission build,” Wood said. “We’re looking for people we can have conversations with.”

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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: Pattern Energy developing $9bn Texas green ammonia project

One of the largest operators of renewable energy in the Americas, San Francisco-based Pattern is advancing a 1-million-ton-per-year green ammonia project in Texas.

Pattern Energy knows a thing or two about large renewable energy projects.

It built Western Spirit Wind, a 1,050 MW project in New Mexico representing the largest wind power resource ever constructed in a single phase in the Americas. And it has broken ground on SunZia, a 3.5 GW wind project in the same state – the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Now it is pursuing a 1-million-ton-per-year green ammonia project in Corpus Christi, Texas, at an expected cost of $9bn, according to Erika Taugher, a director at Pattern.

The facility is projected to come online in 2028, and is just one of four green hydrogen projects the company is developing. The Argentia Renewables project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada is marching toward the start of construction next year, and Pattern is also pursuing two earlier-stage projects in Texas, Taugher said in an interview.

The Corpus Christi project consists of a new renewables project, electrolyzers, storage, and a pipeline, because the electrolyzer site is away from the seaport. It also includes a marine fuels terminal and an ammonia synthesis plant.

Pattern has renewable assets in West and South Texas and is acquiring additional land to build new renewables that would allow for tax incentives that require additionality, Taugher said.

Financing for the project is still coming together, with JV partners and prospective offtakers likely to take project equity stakes along with potential outside equity investors. No bank has been mandated yet for the financing.

Argentia

At the Argentia project, Pattern is building 300 MW of wind power to produce 90 tons per day of green hydrogen, which will be used to make approximately 400 tons per day of green ammonia. The ammonia will be shipped to counterparties in Europe, offtake contracts for which are still under negotiation.

“The Canadian project is particularly exciting because we’re not waiting on policy to determine how it’s being built,” Taugher said. “The wind is directly powering our electrolyzers there, and any additional grid power that we need from the utility is coming from a clean grid, comprised of hydropower.“

“We don’t need to wait for rules on time-matching and additionality,” she added, but noted the renewables will likely benefit from Canada’s investment tax credits, which would mean the resulting ammonia may not qualify under Europe’s rules for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) as recently enacted.

Many of the potential offtakers are similarly considering taking equity stakes in the Argentia project, Taugher added.

Domestic offtake

Pattern is also pursuing two early-stage projects in Texas that would seek to provide green hydrogen to the domestic offtake market.

In the Texas Panhandle, Pattern is looking to repower existing wind assets and add more wind and solar capacity that would power green hydrogen production.

In the Permian Basin, the company has optioned land and is conducting environmental and water feasibility studies to prove out the case for green hydrogen. Pattern is considering local offtake and is also in discussions to tie into a pipeline that would transport the hydrogen to the Gulf Coast.

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