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Canada green ammonia mega-project hits environmental snag

World Energy GH2's environmental impact statement was deemed deficient.

World Energy GH2’s green ammonia mega-project in Atlantic Canada has been denied an initial environmental approval.

In October, 2023, the Newfoundland and Labrador Ministry of Environment and Climate Change deemed that the environmental impact statement submitted by the company was deficient. World Energy GH2 must now file an amendment.

The project was expected to produce the first green hydrogen by the end of Q2 2024, but has been delayed. An executive at the company told Reuters in December that the project would be delayed due to the inability of German offtakers to handle the product.

The Reuters report did not mention the denial of the environmental approval, which has been on the Ministry’s docket since October.

The project involves the development of a green hydrogen/ammonia production facility, created from 1 GW of renewable energy located on the Port au Port Peninsula. Future expansion includes potential to create up to 3 GW of renewable electricity through the addition of further onshore wind farms.

The overall development plan (including future phases) includes three phases. This includes a 0.5 GW hydrogen facility at the Port of Stephenville, up to 164 turbines generating 1 GW of wind power (with a likely maximum hub height of 121m, plus a rotor diameter of 158 m, for a likely total maximum height of 200 m) and associated transmission and supporting infrastructure.

The CBC reported that the total cost of the project is estimated at $12bn.

The company is working with Green Giraffe as its financial advisor to arrange financing for the project, according to regulatory documents.

Approximately 80% of the hydrogen produced will be used to produce ammonia, with most of the ammonia delivered to existing marine export facilities at the Port by pipelines placed underground or on pipe racks. From there, ammonia will be transported globally by dedicated ammonia carriers and by standard LPG capable vessels.

In May, 2023, the company closed a deal under which SK ecoplant is initially investing $50m in Project Nujio’qonik, acquiring a 20 per cent stake in World Energy GH2 Limited Partnership.

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Vertex Energy sells used motor oil refinery in pivot to energy transition

Vertex Energy sold an Ohio used motor oil refinery for $90m, and will invest further in renewable diesel and potential sustainable aviation fuel opportunities.

Vertex Energy, a specialty refiner and marketer of high-quality refined products, has sold its Heartland used motor oil collection and recycling business to a wholly owned subsidiary of GFL Environmental for total cash consideration of $90m.

Under the terms of the transaction, GFL acquired Vertex’s 20 million gallon per year Heartland used motor oil (UMO) refinery in Ohio and the associated Heartland UMO collections business, according to a news release.

After fees, total net cash proceeds from the transaction are approximately $85m. The company may use some of the transaction proceeds to reduce outstanding debt on its balance sheet.

Houlihan Lokey served as financial advisor to Vertex, and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP served as legal counsel to Vertex for the transaction.

The transaction positions Vertex to redeploy capital into energy transition assets of scale. Vertex continues to examine potential investment opportunities across the sustainable fuels sector, including further development of its renewable diesel production business, as well as potential new opportunities in the rapidly growing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) market. Management believes the transition to the production of lower-carbon, sustainable fuels and products represents an attractive investment opportunity that positions the Company to achieve meaningful growth in Adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow long-term.

Vertex believes the resulting streamlined asset footprint will enable further operational focus and enhanced efficiencies throughout the company, according to the press release. The improved operational focus on the Mobile refining facility comes almost concurrently with anticipated mechanical completion and subsequent start-up of initial renewable diesel production which is currently expected to be completed in the second quarter 2023.

“We believe that the divestiture of our used motor oil business at Heartland, while a significant element of our company’s history and roots, will reflect another step forward in the greater transformation of our business into an energy transition story of scale. We expect that this transaction will serve us well by enabling the improvement of our balance sheet health, while adding strategic value through the streamlining of our operations. We remain highly focused on the execution of our conventional fuels refining strategy and the development of a large-scale, sustainable fuels production business longer-term. Make no mistake, we are committed to our remaining legacy business, coupled with our new investments in the Mobile refinery and the Gulf Coast, a key pathway to our greater energy transition strategy,” stated Benjamin P. Cowart, president and CEO of Vertex.

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Drax Group reaches carbon removal deal for US projects

The deal, which will occur over a five-year period starting in 2030, is linked to Drax’s planned deployment of bioenergy with carbon capture facilities in the US.

Carbon removals and renewable energy company Drax Group today announced a new carbon removals deal with Karbon-X, a leading environmental company.

Karbon-X will purchase carbon dioxide removals (CDR) credits from Drax representing 25,000 metric tons of permanently stored carbon at $350 per tonne under the terms of the agreement.

The deal, which will occur over a five-year period starting in 2030, is linked to Drax’s planned deployment of carbon negative BECCS in the United States, according to a news release.

“We’re excited to work with organizations like Karbon-X that understand the importance of investing in high-value carbon removals today,” said Laurie Fitzmaurice, President, Carbon Removals at Drax. “The CDR market, which is already maturing at a rapid pace, is expected to experience a supply crunch within the next decade as companies and countries approach their deadlines for carbon reduction targets.”

The agreement with Karbon-X is the latest in a string of previously announced carbon removals memorandums of understanding that have included Respira and C-Zero. Drax also launched a new independent business unit earlier this year that is focused on becoming the global leader in large-scale carbon removals. This business unit will oversee the development and construction of Drax’s new-build BECCS plants in the US and internationally, and it will work with a coalition of strategic partners to focus on an ambitious goal of removing at least 6 Mt of CO2 per year from the atmosphere.

BECCS is a carbon removal technology that uses sustainably sourced biomass to generate renewable energy while permanently sequestering the carbon underground. Measuring the impact of these high-quality carbon removals is more straightforward when compared with other solutions like nature-based removals, resulting in high demand, according to the company.

“This agreement with Karbon-X represents another major step forward in delivering BECCS by Drax in the United States to help meet this growing demand to decarbonize our planet,” said Fitzmaurice.

Karbon-X intends to sell the credits it purchases from Drax on the voluntary carbon market, enabling individuals and organizations to achieve their own emissions reduction targets. It follows a stringent set of guidelines to ensure it selects only high-quality projects and providers, like BECCS by Drax.

As companies, industries, and countries increasingly look to engineered carbon removals to ensure they can meet their climate commitments, CDRs from carbon negative BECCS are becoming an integral piece of this market. Through BECCS, carbon removals are quantifiable and auditable, resulting in a higher quality credit. This separates BECCS-derived CDRs from carbon offsets, allowing organizations to have greater trust in the impact of their investments, according to the release.

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Dallas PE firm adds two partners from Navigator CO2 Ventures

Dallas-based private equity firm Cresta Fund Management has hired two new operating partners from Navigator CO2 Ventures, a BlackRock-backed CO2 pipeline effort that was recently cancelled, according to a news release.

The new hires are Eric Leigh and Jim Mullin. Leight helped lead business development and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) origination activities for Navigator and drove the firm’s strategy for environmental attributes as the Executive Director of Carbon Supply and Markets.

Mullin previously served as the Executive Director of Carbon Utilization for Navigator and helped commercialize carbon utilization and educate stakeholders on carbon sequestration and utilization markets and solutions.

Mullin and Leigh’s energy and carbon capture industry experience is expected to provide a key addition to Cresta’s Sustainable Fund Series, in particular Lapis Energy, Cresta’s CCS-focused portfolio company.

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California renewables firm in talks for green fuel co-development

A utility-scale solar and storage developer based in California has started outreach and discussions to have green fuels projects co-developed at some of its larger sites in the western US.

RAI Energy, the California-based solar and storage developer, has started to engage with other companies about developing green fuels along with its utility-scale projects, CEO and owner Mohammed S. Alrai said in an interview.

RAI recently took a development loan from Leyline Renewable Capital. That transaction ends a process launched by Keybanc first reported by The Hydrogen Source.

Alrai remains the 100% equity owner, he said. The liquidity from Leyline will last about two years.

The company’s most impending projects are in Colorado and California, Alrai said. Discussions around green fuels envision a partner coming in as a co-developer and customer for RAI’s renewable power.

“We’re definitely open to entering into conversations with all stakeholders,” Alrai said, adding that the effort could require capital raising. “We will be coming to the market to potentially raise equity.”

RAI is moving toward long-term ownership and operation of projects, he said. The company could also sell projects to raise capital.

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Carbon credit project developer planning equity raise

A Texas-based carbon credit firm is preparing to sell credits from its first project in the US southeast and planning its first equity raise in 2024.

Sky Harvest Carbon, the Dallas-based carbon credit project developer, is preparing to sell credits from its first project, roughly 30,000 acres of forest in the southeastern US, while looking toward its first equity raise in 2024, CEO and founder Will Clayton said in an interview.

In late 2024 the company will seek to raise between $5m and $10m in topco equity, depending on the outcome of grant applications, Clayton said. The company is represented by Scott Douglass & McConnico in Austin, Texas and does not have a relationship with a financial advisor.

Sky Harvest considers itself a project developer, using existing liquidity to pay landowners on the backend for timber rights, then selling credits based on the volume and age of the trees for $20 to $50 per credit (standardized as 1 mtpy of carbon).

The company will sell some 45,000 credits from its pilot project — comprised of acreage across Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi – in 2024, Clayton said. The project involves 20 landowners.

Clayton, formerly chief of staff at North Carolina-based renewables and P2X developer Strata Clean Energy, owns a controlling stake in Sky Harvest Carbon. He said he’s self-funded operations to date, in part with private debt. The company is also applying for a multi-million-dollar grant based on working with small and underrepresented landowners.

“There’s a wall of demand… that’s coming against a supply constraint,” Clayton said of companies wanting to buy credits to meet carbon reduction goals.

Sky Harvest would be interested in working with companies wanting to secure supply or credits before price spikes, or investors wanting to acquire the credits as an asset prior to price spikes, Clayton said.

“Anybody who wants to go long on carbon, either as an investment thesis or for the climate benefits to offset operational footprint, it’s a great way to do it by locking supply at a low cost,” he said.

A novel approach to credit definition

Carbon credits on the open market vary widely in verifications standards and price; they can cost anywhere from $1 to $2,000.

“There’s a long process for all the measurements and verifications,” Clayton said.

There are many forestry carbon developers paying landowners for environmental benefits and selling those credits. Where Sky Harvest is unique is its attempt to redefine the carbon credit, Clayton said.

The typical definition of 1 mtpy of CO2 is problematic, as it does not gauge for duration of storage, he said. Carbon emitted into the atmosphere can stay there indefinitely.

“If you’re storing carbon for 10, 20, 30 years, the scales don’t balance,” Clayton said. “That equation breaks and it’s not truly an offset.”

Sky Harvest is quantifying the value of carbon over time by equating volume with duration, Clayton said.

“If you have one ton of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere forever on one side of the scale, you need multiple tons of carbon dioxide stored on the other side of the scale if it’s for any time period other than forever,” he said, noting that credit providers often cannot guarantee that the protected trees will never be harvested. Sky Harvest inputs more than 1 ton per credit, measured in periods of five years guaranteed storage at a time. “We compensate for the fact that it’s not going to be stored there forever.”

Monitoring protected land is expensive and often difficult to sustain. Carbon markets work much like conservation easements, but those easements often lose effect over time as oversight diminishes (typically because of staffing or funding shortages at the often nonprofit groups charged with monitoring).

“That doesn’t work in any other industry with real physical commodities,” Clayton said. “The way every other industry works is you pay a fund delivery. That’s our measure-as-you-go approach.”

A similar methodology has been put forward by the United Nations and has been adopted in Quebec, Clayton said.

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Hydrogen firm launches equity raise

A US hydrogen infrastructure and project development outfit has mandated a banker to conduct a raise for equity and project capital.

Lifte H2, the Boston-based hydrogen infrastructure and project developer, has mandated a banker to conduct a Series A capital raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners is running the process, which launched recently, the sources said. Lifte H2 is seeking equity in the topco and development capital for its first project.

Talks with strategic and financial investors are being conducted now.

Lifte H2, which also has offices in Berlin, is led by Co-founder and CEO Matthew Blieske, who served as global hydrogen product manager for Shell before starting Lifte H2 in 2021. The founding team also includes Jeremy Manaus, Angela Akroyd, Richard Zhang, Paul Karzel, and Richard Wiens, all of whom previously worked at Shell.

In January, the company launched two hydrogen transport and dispensing products, the MACH₂ Mobile Refueler, which is a combination dispenser and high-capacity trailer; and the MACH2 High-Capacity Hydrogen Trailer, which has a capacity of 1,330 kg at approximately 550 bar and, according to the company, enables the lowest cost per kilogram for over-the-road transport.

The company signed an MOU last year with Swiss compressor manufacturer Burckhardt Compression to develop a joint offering of hydrogen solutions.

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