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Biomass-to-hydrogen developer to receive California grant

The first grant, of $500,000, will support Yosemite Clean Energy’s flagship project in Oroville, CA, and will help bring Yosemite to a final investment decision.

Yosemite Clean Energy was selected to receive two $500,000 Forest Biomass to Carbon-Negative Biofuels grants from the California Department of Conservation (DOC), according to a recent news release.

The first grant will support Yosemite’s flagship project in Oroville, CA, and will help bring Yosemite to a final investment decision; the plant will produce 24 tons of renewable hydrogen per day. The second grant will support preliminary engineering for Yosemite’s Tuolumne County hydrogen project.

The DOC grant program is a vote of confidence for forest biomass to biofuels projects in the state and will increase the pace and scale of biofuels development.

The projects funded under the program will support sustainable forest stewardship within California that will help reduce the risk of wildfires and provide zero emission, carbon-negative fuels for the transportation industry.

Yosemite’s applications were scored #1 and #2 out of the 8 projects selected to receive funding, the release says.

This grant is the first round in a two-phase grant program, with the second phase giving 2 to 4 awards of between $10m and $20m to construct projects. As stated on the Program website, the DOC received a $50m budget allocation in FY21-22 focused specifically on creating carbon-negative hydrogen and/or liquid fuel from forest biomass within the Sierra Nevada. The DOC has worked closely with both the California Air Resources Board (CARB) the California Energy Commission (CEC), and the Natural Resources Agency, CalFire, IBank, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to develop the grant program.

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Raven SR and H3 Dynamics sign MoU for waste-to-hydrogen supply at airports

The companies will jointly develop renewable hydrogen facilities to supply fuel for various ground operations at airports.

Raven SR Inc., a renewable fuels company, and H3 Dynamics, a developer of hydrogen aviation technologies, today announced their memorandum of understanding to globally collaborate on waste-to-hydrogen energy systems to support the decarbonization of airport operations and the adoption of hydrogen at airports.

H3 Dynamics will provide hydrogen power systems to replace conventional fuel and other energy sources at airports, especially in Asia, Europe and the US. Raven SR will provide renewable hydrogen production facilities to supply airports. The use of hydrogen to power various ground operations will help reduce emissions at airports.

“We see tremendous demand to decarbonize the aviation sector with renewable fuels, including on the ground,” said Matt Murdock, CEO of Raven SR. “By collaborating with H3 Dynamics, we can reach a broader network among airports and equipment, including a variety of aircraft operations, to install waste-to-energy hubs where there is an acute need to curb emissions.”

The Raven SR technology is a non-combustion thermal, chemical reductive process that converts organic waste and landfill gas to hydrogen and Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels. Unlike other hydrogen production technologies such as electrolysis, Raven SR’s Steam/CO2 reformation does not require fresh water as a feedstock. The process is more efficient than conventional hydrogen production and can deliver fuel with low to negative carbon intensity. Additionally, Raven SR’s goal is to generate as much of its own power onsite as possible to reduce reliance on the power grid and even be independent of the grid. Its modular design provides a scalable means to locally produce renewable hydrogen and synthetic liquid fuels from local waste.

“Raven SR provides a way to convert a variety of waste feedstocks into clean hydrogen, with a process that uses less energy than other renewable hydrogen production. Raven SR’s advanced waste-to-hydrogen technology offers a less intensive, more sustainable means of locally producing fuel,” said Taras Wankewycz, CEO of H3 Dynamics.

H3 Dynamics will work with its technology and manufacturing partners to configure hydrogen power systems componentry to meet certification requirements within the airport and aircraft environment.

“H3 Dynamics will deploy decarbonization use cases that have a more immediate impact, so that the infrastructure built today can also welcome hydrogen aircraft in the future,” said Wankewycz.

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GHI assessing ABB technology for Hydrogen City

GHI has signed an MoU to assess ABB’s automation and electrification technology for deployment at the South Texas Hydrogen City green hydrogen project.

ABB is collaborating with Green Hydrogen International (GHI) on a project to develop a major green hydrogen facility in south Texas, United States.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding ABB’s automation, electrification and digital technology will be assessed for deployment at GHI’s Hydrogen City project, according to a news release.

The Power-to-X facility will use solar and onshore wind energy to power a 2.2 GW electrolyzer plant to produce 280,000 tons of green hydrogen per year, which will be turned into one million tons of green ammonia annually.

ABB has already completed a feasibility study to develop an electrical system architecture that optimizes return on investment for the project and supports compliance with EU legislation governing Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO)2 and the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). ABB plans to supply its Integrated Control Safety System with the distributed control system ABB Ability™ System 800xA® to improve efficiency, operator performance and asset utilization.

MoU scope also includes electrical motors and drives, measurement and analytics solutions, and power and process optimization solutions.

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Trafigura renews call for carbon levy to support clean fuels for shipping

The global trading firm had previously proposed a carbon price of $250 – $300 per tonne for carbon fuel oils for shipping.

Global commodity trader Trafigura Group renewed its call for a tax on carbon fuel oils used for shipping in an effort to speed decarbonization of the maritime industry.

The trader, which previously proposed a carbon levy of $250 – $300 per tonne, called on the UN’s International Maritime Organization, a shipping regulator, to revise its GHG policy and implement a carbon levy in a review of the organization’s carbon policy this year.

“By agreeing and implementing ambitious science-based decarbonization targets in its revised GHG Strategy, the IMO can accelerate the development of low- and zero-emission fuels and attract the investment needed to overhaul the infrastructure of the global shipping industry and retrofit or build a fleet of ships,” Trafigura said in the white paper.

Trafigura calls on the IMO to introduce an agreed-upon carbon price by 2025.

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Exclusive: California IPP considering hydrogen options for gas generation portfolio

A California-based IPP is considering burning hydrogen in the thermal plants it acquires, as well as in a portfolio of gas peaking assets it is developing in Texas and the western US.

Nightpeak Energy, the Oakland-based IPP backed by Energy Spectrum Capital, is planning to have wide optionality to burn hydrogen in the gas plants it acquires, as well as in quick-start peaking natural gas assets it is developing in Texas and the western US, CEO Paris Hays said in an interview.

“There’s just not a lot of places in this country where you can procure enough hydrogen at a reasonable price to actually serve wholesale electricity customers,” Hays said of the existing hydrogen landscape.

Still, OEMs are figuring out in real time which of their deployed fleet can burn hydrogen, he said. Studies on blending seem to be yielding positive results.

“That’s great news for a business like ours, because we can have optionality,” Hays said. When interacting with equipment providers, conversion to hydrogen is an important, if expensive, discussion point.

“We want to be in a position to be able to do that for our customers,” Hays said. “We can offer a premium product, which is kind of rare in our business.”

Nightpeak recently purchased Saguaro Power Co., which owns a 90 MW combined cycle power plant in Nevada. That facility is a candidate for hydrogen repowering, Hays said, though that’s just one option for an asset that is currently cash-flowing well.

The Nevada facility is close to California, which notably is a market with a demonstrated appetite for paying green premiums, Hays said.

“We wouldn’t manufacture hydrogen ourselves, we would be a buyer,” he said. “This is one path that any plants we own or develop could take in the future.”

Nightpeak has yet to announce any greenfield projects. But Hays said the company is developing a portfolio of “quick-start” natural gas generation projects in ERCOT and WECC. Those assets, 100 MW or more, are to be developed with the concept of hydrogen conversion or blending in mind.

Proposition 7, which recently passed in Texas, could present an opportunity for Nightpeak as the legislation’s significant provisions for natural gas development has pundits and some lawmakers calling for the assets to be hydrogen-ready.

Investor interest in being able to convert gas assets to burn hydrogen reflect an important decision-making process for Nightpeak, Hays said.

“Does it makes sense to just buy a turbine that only burns natural gas and may be a stranded asset at some point, or would we rather pay and select a turbine that already has the optionality?” Hays said. “Putting price aside, you’re always going to go for optionality.”

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Exclusive: World Energy GH2 targeting early 2025 FID

World Energy GH2 is aiming to reach FID early next year – and advancing project financing discussions with a pair of advisors – on the $5bn phase 1 green ammonia development in Newfoundland and Labrador known as Project Nujio’qonik. We spoke to Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet in detail about the project.

World Energy GH2, the developer of a green ammonia export project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is aiming to reach FID in early 2025 on phase 1 of Project Nujio’qonik, Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet said in an interview.

Phase 1 of the project entails the construction of a 1 GW wind facility and 600 MW of electrolysis for an estimated cost of $5bn, Leet said. Once complete, the first phase of Project Nujio’qonik is expected to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of green ammonia for export.

The developer is working with Green Giraffe and RBC Capital Markets to advance a project financing deal, the same advisors that assisted World Energy GH2 on a $95m loan from Export Development Canada, announced last week.

The debt-to-equity split for the $5bn capital raise is still being iterated as the company looks at financing options with the available government subsidies and potential support from export agencies, Leet said. The company has not yet lined up an arranger for debt financing and expects to make a decision on that role at a later date, he added.

A schedule update is in progress as part of the project’s FEED readiness assessment. This update, considering factors such as long lead item availability and offtaker delivery requirements, is a required step before the start of FEED and is expected to be released around April 15. 

The FEED readiness assessment, Leet said, “is a process that we’ve undertaken with some value engineering due to some learnings from the pre-FEED deliverables and some other aspects of just making sure we’re well prepared for FEED so we can execute flawlessly on that.”

Leet expects the FEED process will take between nine and 12 months, setting the developer up for an FID in early 2025. As part of a competitive bidding process, World Energy GH2 was awarded four different Crown land sites, each capable of producing 1 GW of wind power, allowing for additional phases up to 4 GW of renewables.

Newfoundland, the distant Canadian island where Project Nujio’qonik is located, has become a hotbed of green ammonia project activity due to its exceptional wind resource, with as many eight major projects springing up (see, and zoom, on map).

Investment outlook

The Canadian government has promulgated a clean hydrogen investment tax credit of up to 40% on certain expenses, available until 2035. And in its most recent budget, the government floated the idea of providing contracts for difference to help de-risk emission-reducing projects. 

Leet believes that the CfD arrangement, which will be administered by the Canada Growth Fund, will be tied to the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance, an agreement that promotes clean hydrogen trade ties between the two nations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed the accord at World Energy GH2’s site in Stephenville, with the aim of shipping hydrogen or ammonia by 2025 – a timeline that looks increasingly stretched. And World Energy GH2 earlier this year became the first North American member of Germany’s Port of Wilhelmshaven's energy hub.

“Those details haven’t been announced yet but we’re hopeful that the CfD mechanism is there to work alongside the ITC,” Leet said.

Additional financing could come from more export credit agencies “in the countries you would expect” that would support local companies providing equipment to Project Nujio’qonik. “That will be a very likely piece of our financing arrangement.”

World Energy GH2 is in discussions with various offtakers, but will be able to engage in greater detail once the ITC and CfD subsidies are clarified, and once the project receives its environmental permit, Leets said. 

World Energy GH2 was set up as a standalone Canadian company with the sole purpose of executing on Project Nujio’qonik. It is owned by its founders along with SK ecoplant, the environment and energy arm of Korea’s SK Group, which took a 20% stake in the company – and also the project – for $50m.

Gene Gebolys, the founder and CEO of World Energy LLC, a provider of low-carbon fuels, is also a founder of Project Nujio’qonik. And John Risley, another partner of the Canadian project, is a co-owner of World Energy LLC.

Support from existing investors along with the Export Development Canada facility announced last week make the project entity well capitalized to move “expeditiously” through FEED to FID, Leet said.

Canada to Europe

World Energy GH2 is talking to the major ammonia players about a scale-up of import capacity on European shores.

Leet noted specifically that the Antwerp-Bruges port has plans to scale up to handle the increased amounts of ammonia imports, for use in the various industries located in Belgium and potentially on to Germany from there.

Three companies – Fluxys, Advario Stolthaven Antwerp, and Advario Gas Terminal – have said they are considering constructing an open-access ammonia import terminal at the port of Antwerp-Bruges. Air Liquide also said it will build an ammonia cracking facility there.

The Port of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, where World Energy GH2 is a member of the energy hub, has similar plans to scale up, with various companies evaluating ammonia import terminals and cracking facilities.

Meanwhile, Leet said the ammonia product that it ships to Europe, in addition to benefiting from Canadian subsidies and tax credits, will also comply with the EU’s RFNBO standards.

The project has existing grid and water connections already at the Port of Stephenville, since the hydrogen plant will be built on top of a former paper mill which consumed both water and electricity. 

“So we're fortunate to have that grid connection available to us and the power in the Newfoundland grid is well over 90% existing hydro,” Leet said. “So between that and our wind power, we will have no issue meeting the standard set by the EU for green hydrogen and it will be 100% RFNBO compliant.”

The company is working on regulatory certification with multiple bodies but has not finalized a provider.

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Exclusive: Middle market flagship fund to target e-fuels, renewables

A new $1.5bn US-focused flagship fund focused on middle market companies is in discussions with new and existing LPs now and will consider e-fuels and other sustainable molecules in its deployment.

Energy Impact Partners, the New York-based investment firm, is in discussions with new and existing LPs to raise a $1.5bn flagship fund focused on the middle market, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The raise is being done without a financial advisor, the sources said. Once complete, it will target platforms and assets in the $40m to $50m range.

While the fund will be broadly focused on renewables, e-fuels and other sustainable fuels companies will be considered, one of the sources said.

The investment manager has invested in clean fuels via equity positions in Electric Hydrogen, Terragia and Metafuels, among others.

EIP did not respond to requests for comment.

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