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Biofuels firm scouting Florida locations for SAF plant

Blue Biofuels is evaluating prospective locations in Florida capable of accommodating both SAF and cellulosic ethanol production facilities.

Blue Biofuels Inc. (BIOF) has successfully produced its first batch of cellulosic ethanol, utilizing the cellulosic sugars created from biomass on its cellulose-to-sugar pilot line, according to a news release.

BIOF, based in Palm Beach Gardens, has been granted two US Patents, with an additional six patents currently pending. These patents underscore BIOF’s commitment to proprietary advancements, strongly positioning the company in the biofuels landscape. BIOF remains dedicated to expanding its patent portfolio as it continues to upscale and commercialize its process.

Entering into the next phase, BIOF has embarked on the funding process to establish production capacity for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in collaboration with Vertimass. BIOF is evaluating prospective locations in Florida capable of accommodating both SAF and cellulosic ethanol production facilities.

The company is also engaged in multiple discussions to expand its off-take agreements for biofuels. In addition to its established off-take arrangement with World Energy Sustainable Products, LLC, BIOF remains committed to forging new partnerships to meet the growing market demand for sustainable energy solutions.

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GE Gas demonstrating hydrogen co-firing with Indian power utility

NTPC will provide the H2 required for the project.

GE Gas Power and Indian power utility NTPC will explore hydrogen co-firing blended with natural gas in GE’s 9E gas turbine installed at NTPC’s Kawas gas power plant in Gujarat, India,  according to a press release.

The 645 MW gas power plant is powered by four GE 9E gas turbines operating in a combined-cycle mode. NTPC will provide the H2 required for the project.

GE’s E- Class gas turbine portfolio currently has the capability to burn up to 100% by volume of hydrogen when blended with natural gas. This capability varies depending on the type of combustion system used. For fuels with over 5% hydrogen by volume, gas turbine accessories need to be evaluated and possibly modified to reliably deliver the fuel to the combustors.

“NTPC, with a large fleet of power generation facilities delivering more than 70 GW across India, has been at the forefront when it comes to piloting new hydrogen-related initiatives,” Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya, Director (Projects) at NTPC, said in the release. “NTPC is committed to playing a key role in India’s energy transition journey as the country marches ahead to achieve net-zero target and climate goals.”

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North Dakota CCS project enters final development stages

Closing on financing for Project Tundra at the coal-fired Milton R. Young Station power plant is expected in early 2024.

Minnkota Power Cooperative has solidified agreements with TC Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Kiewit to move a North Dakota carbon capture project into its final stage of development, according to a news release.

Under the arrangements, Minnkota will continue to lead development activities for “Project Tundra” at the Milton R. Young Station power plant, as well as coordination with landowners and community members in the project area near Center, N.D.

Closing on financing and the notice to move forward with construction of Project Tundra are anticipated in early 2024. The project remains subject to closing on financing and a final investment decision by each of the project entities in the consortium.

TC Energy will lead commercialization activities, including qualifying for federal 45Q tax credits. Return on project construction and operation costs would be recouped through 45Q, which provides $85 per ton of CO2 permanently stored underground.

In addition, the project participants submitted applications in May for a $350m grant through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program and a $150m loan through the state of North Dakota’s Clean Sustainable Energy Authority. The project currently has approval for a $100m CSEA loan.

Project Tundra is designed to capture up to four million metric tons of CO2 annually from the coal-based Young Station. The CO2 will be stored more than a mile underground. Minnkota currently has the largest fully permitted CO2 storage facility in the United States and is pursuing additional CO2 storage opportunities near the Young Station.

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EU-backed Neev Fund invests in India-based hydrogen developer

Green hydrogen developer Hygenco aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco Green Energies Pvt. Ltd (Hygenco), a green hydrogen developer, has received a GBP 22m investment from the Neev II Fund, a climate and sustainability focused fund backed by the UK and EU governments, according to a news release.

The investment will enable Hygenco to commercialize its early pipeline, as it aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco, which deploys scaled-up commercially attractive green hydrogen solutions, will build-own-operate multiple green hydrogen facilities across the country. Founded by professionals having decades of experience in renewable energy, project development and consulting, the investment by Neev will give an impetus to large-scale Green Hydrogen deployment in India.

Neev II Fund along with its predecessor Neev I Fund are managed by SBICAP Ventures, which has backing from the UK government through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It is also backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Neev I Fund, launched in 2015, has invested into 10 companies in diverse clean energy, Agri supply chain and social infrastructure sectors. Neev II Fund is the successor fund launched in June 2021 that seeks to provide growth and expansion capital to companies offering solutions for clean energy, electric vehicles, efficient use of raw materials, and water and circular economy projects in the country.

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Exclusive: Hydrocarbon recycling firm raising pre-IPO equity

An early-stage company capturing and recycling CO2 from hydrocarbon engines in the northeastern US and Germany has hired an investment bank to help them with a public listing and is raising pre-IPO platform equity.

ESG Clean Energy, a Massachusetts-based carbon capture and recycling firm formed in 2016, plans to go public in 2025 but will first raise pre-IPO platform equity, CEO Nick Scuderi said in an interview.

ESG Clean Energy will change its name in a re-brand and has hired an investment bank to help with the IPO, which does not yet have a targeted quarter, Scuderi said. He declined to name the advisor.

After the name change but prior to the public listing, ESG is seeking to raise between $20m and $40m in platform equity, he said. The company is interested in a traditional IPO, not a SPAC or private debut opportunity.

Angel investors have backed the company to date, with some $40m total raised, Scuderi said. He owns a controlling stake in the company.

Power, water and CO2

ESG Clean Energy, billed as a thermal dynamics and fluid mechanics engineering company, has patented technology for use in fossil combustion engines – both piston-driven engines and bottoming cycles (secondary thermal dynamic waste-to-energy systems). Exhaust is treated to produce CO2 and water.

The technology is commercialized, producing power at a facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts under a 5 MW/20-year PPA with Holyoke Gas & Electric. The 5,000 square-foot plant in the city proper has two Caterpillar G3520 natural gas engines each producing 2 MW of power running on natural gas during peak hours.

The waste-heat from Holyoke One is used to create commodities, including distilled water.

“What we have is a design, a system, where we utilize our technology to separate the water from the exhaust,” Scuderi said. “We can utilize this technology in any power plant in the US that’s running on natural gas.”

In arid regions, the distilled water aspect has obvious potential. The Holyoke One facility makes up to 14,000 gallons of distilled water per day, Scuderi said.

The system is also applicable in ICE engines, Suderi said. The company has been in discussions with auto manufacturers to license ESG’s IP; he declined to name which auto companies.

The CO2 is sold to offtakers who do not re-emit it into the atmosphere, such as cannabis growers and CO2 beverage makers. ESG is also able to sell carbon credits.

Bankable opportunities in the US and Germany

Holyoke One, at a cost of $20m, can be replicated throughout the US and, post-IPO, ESG has eyes on power projects in New England, California and Florida, Scuderi said.

Power plants that produce from 100 MWh to 200 MWh will cost between $400m and $450m, and each of those projects will be set up as a separate LLC, Scuderi said. The demand is particularly large in powering data storage.

“We have different [investment] funds that are very large that are willing to put up the money” to fund the projects, Scuderi said. “It’s bankable because the power sales agreement is tied to a data storage company that’s triple-A rated.”

Data-heavy geographies like Virginia are targets for this kind of development, and ESG plans to sharpen its focus on these projects, as well as project finance efforts, following the IPO.

Now, the company has six large scale projects in development in Germany, including one advanced project serving a cloud computing offtaker in the Berlin area, needing 150 MW to 200 MW of power per hour, Scuderi said.

“In Germany, we’re very far along with getting power sales agreements,” he said. “Once we deploy this technology in one location, the world’s going to want it.”

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exclusive

How hydrogen from nuclear power shows pitfalls of ‘additionality’

An interview with the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Director of Markets and Policy Benton Arnett.

Tax credits for low-carbon hydrogen production in the Inflation Reduction Act represent one of the climate law’s most ambitious timelines for implementation, with the provision taking effect late last year. That means low-carbon hydrogen producers can, in theory, already begin applying for tax credits of up to $3 per kilogram, depending on the emissions intensity of production.

However, IRS guidelines for clean hydrogen production have yet to be issued, and industry groups, environmentalists, and scientists are taking sides in a debate over whether the tax credits should require hydrogen made via electrolysis to be powered exclusively with new sources of zero-carbon electricity, a concept known as “additionality.”

In a February letter, a coalition of environmental groups and aspiring hydrogen producers expressed concern to the IRS that guidelines for 45V clean hydrogen production tax credit implementation would not be sufficiently rigorous, especially when it comes to grid-connected electrolyzers. Citing research from Princeton University, the group argued that grid-powered electrolyzers siphon off renewable generation capacity, requiring the grid to be backfilled by fossil power and thus producing twice the carbon emissions that natural gas-derived hydrogen emits currently.

(The group, which includes the National Resources Defense Council, Intersect Power, and EDF Renewables, among others, also argues in favor of hourly tracking, which they say would better guarantee energy used for electrolysis comes from clean sources, and deliverability, requiring renewable power to be sourced from within a reasonable geographic distance. In February, the European Commission issued a directive phasing in, over a number of years, rules for additionality, hourly tracking, and deliverability.)

Benton Arnett, director of markets and policy for the Washington, DC-based Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry trade association, does not believe the concept of additionality was part of Congress’s intent when the body crafted the Inflation Reduction Act. For one, he notes, the text of the 45V provision for clean hydrogen production includes specific prescriptions for the carbon intensity of hydrogen production as well as for the analysis of life-cycle emissions, but says nothing about additionality.

“When you get legislative text, you don’t usually have prescriptions on carbon intensities for the different levels of subsidies,” he said. “You don’t usually have specifications on what life-cycle analysis model to use – and yet all of that is included in the 45V text. Clearly [additionality] is not something that was intended by Congress.”

Reading further into the law, section 45V contains precise language allowing renewable electricity used for the production of hydrogen to also claim renewable energy tax credits, or “stacking” of tax credits. Further, the statute includes a subsection spelling out that producers of nuclear power used to make clean hydrogen can also avail themselves of the 45U tax credit for zero-emission nuclear energy production.

“It’s really hard for me to think of a scenario where the drafters of the IRA would have included a provision allowing existing nuclear assets to claim 45V production tax credits and also be thinking that additionality is something that would be applied,” Arnett said.

Text of the IRA

The NEI emphasized these provisions in a letter to Treasury and IRS officials last month, noting that, “given the ability to stack tax credits for existing sources with section 45V, the timing of when the section 45V credit was made available” – December 31, 2022 – “and congressional support for leveraging existing nuclear plants to produce hydrogen, it is clear Congress intended for existing facilities to be eligible to supply electricity for clean hydrogen production.”

Arnett adds that the debate around additionally ignores the fact that not all power generation assets are created equal. Nuclear facilities, in particular, given the regulatory and capital demands, do not fit within a model of additionality geared toward new renewable energy capacity. (Hydrogen developers have also proposed to use existing hydropower sources for projects in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast.)

This year, the NEI conducted a survey of its 19 member companies representing 80 nuclear facilities in the US. The survey found that 57% of the facilities are considering generation of carbon-free hydrogen. Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hubs grant program requires that one hub produce hydrogen from nuclear sources; and the DOE has teamed up with several utilities to demonstrate hydrogen production at nuclear power plants, including Constellation’s Nine Mile Point Power Station, Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, and Arizona Public Service’s Palo Verde Generating Station.

“We’re worried that if [additionality] goes into effect it’s going to remove a valuable asset for producing hydrogen from the system, and it’s really going to slow down penetration of hydrogen into the market,” Arnett said.

As for the research underlying arguments in favor of additionality, Arnett says that it appears to take the 45V provision in a vacuum, without considering some of the larger changes that are taking shape in US electricity markets. For one, the research, which argues that electrolyzers would absorb renewable capacity and require fossil-based generation to backfill to meet demand, assumes that natural gas generation will continue to be the marginal producer on the electrical grid.

“One of the shortcomings of that is that the IRA has hundreds of billions of dollars of incentives aimed at changing that very dynamic. The whole goal of the IRA is that marginal additions of power are carbon-free,” he said, noting incentives for clean electricity production tax credits, investment tax credits, supply chain buildouts, and loan program office support for all of these projects.

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exclusive

Pennsylvania RNG firm outlines strategic outlook

A growing RNG developer, owner and operator based in Pennsylvania is anticipating a liquidity event on the part of its private equity owner — once it has locked down a “critical mass” of projects.

Vision RNG, a developer of US RNG projects, could see its next project reach commercial operations in Tennessee in a line of projects in southeastern and mid-western states, CEO Bill Johnson said in an interview.

Vision Ridge Partners, a private equity firm, is the majority owner of the company. Management owns the remaining minority stake.

The company is still in early stages and would likely need to get something like six projects to COD before a liquidity event.

“Locking down projects creates a lot of value,” Johnson said, noting that Vision Ridge will likely follow a typical private equity monetization pattern.

The company’s project at Meridian Waste’s Eagle Ridge Landfill in Bowling Green, Missouri is fully operational. It uses 1,500 scfm of landfill gas (LFG) and produces 375,000 MMBtu of RNG annually.

That mid-sized project is similar in scale to what is being developed in Tennessee, which will likely be the next project to reach COD, Johnson said, declining to provide details on exact location.

“We’re working on developing other opportunities with some of the largest publicly owned landfill companies in the country,” Johnson said.

Projects require between $20m and $60m in capex, ranging from small to large, Johnson said. Vision Ridge takes care of the company’s equity requirements.

Debt options are being considered on a project-by-project basis, he said. Debt tends to range from 50% to 70% of total spend.
“We’ll look to put reasonable project debt on these,” he said.

Vision has not to date retained the services of an investment bank, Johnson said.

Vision is pursuing opportunities in Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma, and will evaluate suppliers of services and equipment for each. The location-agnostic company is also open to new relationships with potential future financial and strategic acquirers.

“If you are a private equity group, you’re a potential buyer of the company at some point, so we would be happy to know them and keep their interest in us up,” Johnson said. An acquirer would not necessarily need to have expertise in RNG.

M&A potential

M&A of projects is an option on the table, Johnson said. But returns are better if Vision develops its own projects; and a more challenging macroeconomic environment makes acquisitions somewhat unlikely.

“With the market premiums being paid, I see us continuing to keep our head down and focusing on organic growth,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he expects to see continued consolidation in the greater market. Many large strategic and midstream companies have yet to make significant buys in RNG.

He pointed to bp’s acquisition of Archaea Energy as a significant milestone in the RNG market.

“There’s quite a number of potential acquirers,” Johnson said. “The market is kind of fundamentally and always will be under-supplied and over-demanded.”

Vision would potentially be open to a merger with a portfolio company of a strategic or PE investor, Johnson said.

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