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Braya Renewable Fuels reaches COD

The Canadian facility anticipates initial production capacity of 18,000 barrels per day of renewable diesel, with future plans to expand production capacity, add sustainable aviation fuel and explore green hydrogen.

Braya Renewable Fuels has achieved commercial operations, according to a news release. This marks the completion of its refinery conversion project and is the beginning of providing reliable renewable fuel for the energy transition.

Braya anticipates initial production capacity of 18,000 barrels per day of renewable diesel, with future plans to expand production capacity, add sustainable aviation fuel production capabilities and explore green hydrogen production.

Cresta Fund Management, a Dallas-based private equity firm, acquired a controlling interest in the once-idled petroleum refinery in November 2021 and, through this conversion project, has resurrected the  facility in Come By Chance, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Braya’s ownership group includes Cresta, majority owner and controlling investor, North Atlantic Refining Corp. (NARC), which is managed by Silverpeak, and Energy Capital Partners.

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Comstock completes RenFuel investment

Comstock is investing up to $3m to support applications for RenFuel and Comstock complementary renewable fuel technologies, and the continued development of the 100,000 metric ton per year biorefinery joint venture project in Sweden.

Comstock Inc. has executed agreements with RenFuel K2B AB under which Comstock is investing up to $3m over three years to support commercialization of joint development applications for RenFuel and Comstock complementary renewable fuel technologies, and the continued development of the 100,000 metric ton per year (TPY) biorefinery joint venture project in Sweden.

The applicable investment agreements require the purchase of up to $3m in 7% senior secured convertible notes funded in quarterly installments of $250,000 for three years. The notes are convertible at pre-money per share valuation equal to the lower of $30m or the post-money valuation used for RenFuel’s then most recent offering at the time of conversion. Comstock has already invested the first $350,000 of this investment.

“RenFuel’s team, technologies, and our now collaborative production joint venture project are highly strategic to our Bioleum commercialization plans,” said Corrado De Gasperis, Comstock’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, in a news release. “RenFuel’s highly specialized chemical and process development expertise strongly adds to the breadth and depth of our own technical team and their patent portfolio complements our own extensive portfolio.”

Comstock’s proprietary technologies are proven to convert lignocellulosic biomass into Cellulosic Ethanol and proprietary Bioleum biointermediate blends at extraordinary yields exceeding 100 gallons per dry tonne of biomass on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis (GGE), and market-leading, extremely low carbon intensity (CI) scores of 15. Comstock is already using RenFuel’s patented catalytic esterification technology to refine its proprietary Bioleum derivatives into Hydrodeoxygenated Bioleum Oil (HBO), for use by advanced biofuel refineries in blending with, diversifying, and extending conventional hydroprocessed fat, oil, and grease feedstocks that can simultaneously produce SAF and Renewable Diesel Fuel. Comstock holds the exclusive license to RenFuel’s refining technologies in North America, Central America, and South America and available for global distribution.

RenFuel previously completed extensive preliminary engineering for a new biorefinery to convert about 75,000 TPY of lignin into a biointermediate for refining into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel in Europe. Comstock and RenFuel are evaluating the requirements for inclusion of an additional 25,000 TPY of biorefining capacity based on Comstock’s commercially available Cellulosic Ethanol and Bioleum derived fuels technologies, and several compelling opportunities for deploying our integrated solution.

Sven Löchen, RenFuel’s chief executive officer added, “We are thrilled with this expanding strategic partnership. Comstock’s technologies and proprietary Bioleum products create a vastly expanded market opportunity for our technologies worldwide, where Comstock is rapidly advancing across the Americas. Comstock’s direct investment in RenFuel supports our continued growth and development as we build value for all of our stakeholders.”

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NEOM Green Hydrogen reaches financial close

The consortium consisting of Air Products, ACWA Power, and NEOM has reached financial close on the Saudi Arabia green hydrogen facility for a total investment value of $8.4bn.

NEOM Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC) today announced that following signing financial documents with 23 local, regional, and international banks, and investment firms, it has now achieved financial close on the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility at a total investment value of $8.4bn.

The plant is currently being built at Oxagon, in Saudi Arabia’s region of NEOM. NGHC has also concluded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement with Air Products as the nominated contractor and system integrator for the entire facility.

Additionally, NGHC also announced that the non-recourse financing structured for the project has been certified by S&P Global (as the second party opinion provider) as adhering to green loan principles and is one of the largest project financings put in place under the green loan framework. Air Products has already awarded major contracts to various technology and construction partners.

As previously reported, to be funded by a combination of long-term debt and equity, the project JV, NEOM Green Hydrogen Project, will build 4 GW of renewables powering production of up to 600 tons per day of hydrogen.

The total financing consists of $5.852bn of senior debt and $475m of mezzanine debt facilities, both arranged on a non-recourse project finance basis, as follows:

– $1,500 million from National Development Fund (NDF) on behalf of National Infrastructure Fund (NIF), under foundation.

– $1,250 million is in the form of SAR denominated financing from Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF),

The balance is from a consortium of financiers, structured as a combination of long term uncovered tranches and a Euler Hermes covered tranche, comprising, in no particular order, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, BNP Paribas, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Natixis, Saudi British Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Saudi National Bank, KFW, Riyad Bank, Norinchukin Bank, Mizuho Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Alinma Bank, APICORP, JP Morgan, DZ Bank, Korea Development Bank and Credit Agricole.

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Mexico methanol project to use local wastewater

Transition Industries has agreed with local water authorities to use wastewater for a green and blue methanol facility in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Transition Industries LLC announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with the Ahome Municipality’s Drinking Water and Sewage Board (JAPAMA) to use municipal wastewater for all water resource needs for its Pacifico Mexinol project, a 6,145 MT per day methanol production facility near Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico.

When it initiates operations, Pacifico Mexinol, is expected to be the largest single ultra-low carbon methanol facility in the world – producing approximately 300,000 MT of green methanol from captured carbon and green hydrogen, and 1.8 million MT of blue methanol annually from natural gas with carbon capture, according to a news release. Furthermore, the water solution is expected to be the world’s largest application of industrial water reuse from municipal effluent.

Pacifico Mexinol’s purpose-driven water strategy, designed in partnership with JAPAMA, will allow the facility to completely avoid impacting the Bay of Ohuira. Instead of using seawater and other natural sources of water – which could compete with local agriculture, industrial, commercial and/or residential freshwater needs – Mexinol’s water solution uses municipal wastewater which will be treated and recycled back to the municipal wastewater facility. This closed loop water system will also prevent more than 12 million tons per annum of wastewater being disposed of into the Bay of Ohuira.

Pacifico Mexinol will pay JAPAMA a tariff per cubic meter of wastewater as determined by state law, thus enabling JAPAMA to commercialize its wastewater and strengthen its financial position. The agreement also includes upgrades and improvements to JAPAMA’s water treatment facility.

Rommel Gallo, the CEO of Transition Industries, commented: “We are pleased to have developed a sustainable water solution in partnership with JAPAMA that is not only a model for how to address climate change head-on but also shows how industry and government can work together for sustainable solutions, benefiting both the community and business.”

Transition Industries’ mission is to actively participate in the transition to a low-carbon world by leveraging technology and innovation to produce methanol safely and efficiently while minimizing any negative environmental and social impacts.

“Years of community and municipal engagement has led to the development of a set of purpose-driven design solutions, like our wastewater strategy, aligned with our core values. We will not impact the Bay; our facility is Net Zero to avoid pollution; we use clean and renewable energy; and we promote economic development aligned with the interests of communities,” says Tom Roche, Head of ESG for Transition Industries.

Pacifico Mexinol is expected to reach FID in 2024 and commercial operations in late-2027 to early-2028. The project will generate a significant number of local jobs during construction and operations.

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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

Cutting the electricity out of electrolysis

Milwaukee-based start-up Advanced Ionics is seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that cuts electricity needs for hydrogen production to as low as 30 kWh per kilogram.

Advanced Ionics is seeking to ramp manufacturing capacity and raise capital as it begins to commercialize an electrolyzer promising to reduce electricity needs, CEO Chad Mason said in an interview.

The Milwaukee-based company is working to demonstrate its low-cost electrolyzer technology through a partnership with the Repsol Foundation.

The technology will be tested locally, but could grow to include additional tests and, eventually, a commercial relationship with the Spain-based energy and petrochemical company.

Advanced Ionics is looking to move into a larger facility in Milwaukee to advance early-stage production of the electrolyzer, which uses steam from process and waste heat to reduce the amount of electricity required in electrolysis.

The company last year raised $4.2m in a seed round led by Clean Energy Ventures, with participation from SWAN Impact Network. It has also received financial support from Repsol and $500,000 from the DOE.

As it scales, Mason said, the company will also need to raise additional capital, but he declined further comment.

Going to market

The Repsol arrangement is part of the company’s early access program allowing potential end users to take a first look at the technology.

“Repsol is just the tip of the iceberg here,” Mason said. “We’re talking to some really amazing partners at some of the largest energy companies in the world. People who use hydrogen today and want to make it green immediately understand what we’re doing.”

Given the concentration of hydrogen use in petrochemicals and ammonia, Advanced Ionics is targeting these sectors for deployment of its electrolyzers to produce clean hydrogen, Mason added.

Mason noted that, as the traditional petrochemical industry dies off over time, it will be replaced by green materials and green fuels like sustainable aviation fuel and biofuels that require hydrogenation to be useable.

“You’ll see a bit of a replacement happening on the petrochemical side, towards a green chemical,” he said, adding that a third potential key market is green steel production using hydrogen.

Thermodynamically favored

The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

Advanced Ionics’ water vapor electrolyzer

“We set out to build an electrolyzer specifically that would operate at intermediate temperatures,” he said. “And that allows you to have the synergy with those processes, and the downstream effect is the most cost-effective hydrogen you can get.”

The resulting hydrogen could be available for less than $1 per kg – but, Mason notes, the underlying power price math assumes an abundance of cheap, clean power. The models are usually pricing in two cents per kWh, the availability of which, Mason added, is “extremely geographically dependent.”

“If you’re in Texas, you have a system with wind, solar, and some amount of clean energy grid back-up, it’s pretty attractive,” he said. “Or if you hook up to a hydroelectric facility in the Northwest or in the Quebec area.”

Mason added, “Electrolysis rides on the coattails of cheap, clean electricity. What we have under our control is to make sure we’re using as little electricity as possible.”

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exclusive

3Q deals in focus: Macquarie’s investment in Atlas Agro

In one of the largest and most compelling clean fuels deals of 3Q23, Macquarie made a $325m investment into Americas-focused Atlas Agro, a developer of industrial-scale green nitrogen fertilizer plants that utilize green hydrogen as a feedstock. William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas, provides a closer look.

Macquarie Asset Management’s investment into green nitrogen developer Atlas Agro gives the manager a stake in the company along with the ability to invest in the developer’s projects.

The $325m investment, made via the Macquarie GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund, will benefit Atlas Agro’s previously announced fertilizer plant project in Richland, WA, and will also support the company’s global pipeline of green fertilizer facilities, according to William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas.

In addition to the 700,000 tons-per-year Richland project, Atlas Agro is pursuing a project in Minas Gerais, Brazil that will produce 500,000 tons per year. Both projects would make nitrate fertilizer and are estimated to cost $1bn. An additional facility is planned for the US Midwest.

In the production process, the plants utilize air, water, and renewable electricity as the only raw materials.

“There are a number of things that attracted us to Atlas Agro,” Demas said in response to written questions. “They have a strong management team with an established track record managing established companies and delivering projects in the fertilizer space.”

The GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund has a target size of approximately $1.9bn, which to date is just over 50% committed, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Next phase

Equally important for the Atlas investment, Demas added, is that the company is aligned with Macquarie’s next phase energy transition thesis in the US – in this case hydrogen. 

“In this application, green hydrogen will be used as a feedstock rather than as an energy carrier, and the end-product of green fertilizer will attract customers looking to enter into long-term offtake contracts,” he said.

Through the development of plants in Washington state and the US Midwest, Atlas Agro is seeking to take advantage of favorable logistics to displace the need for imported fossil-fuel based fertilizer. Brazil also imports around 95% of its nitrogen fertilizers, according to Atlas.

“An important benefit of Atlas Agro’s model is the availability of locally produced, high-quality fertilizer, eliminating many of the issues associated with international supply chains,” Demas said, noting that offtakers are local to Atlas Agro’s operations.

Further, Macquarie and Atlas plan to pursue a project finance model for funding the projects under development.

“As an infrastructure investor, we focus on opportunities that are bankable, which means, ultimately project financeable,” Demas said. “We backed Atlas Agro because we believe their approach to project development, commercialization, construction and operations aligns with our views on how to underwrite infrastructure investments.”

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