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Carbon transformation firm closes equity round

A start-up that aims to turn greenhouse gas emissions into carbon materials for sustainable and inexpensive everyday essentials has raised $6m.

Carbonova Corp., a start-up that aims to turn greenhouse gas emissions into carbon materials for sustainable and inexpensive everyday essentials, announced today that it has successfully closed its SAFE equity financing in an oversubscribed round with $6m raised, according to a news release.

The company intends to use the net proceeds from the financing to advance its strategy towards building the first commercial demonstration carbon nanofibers unit in Canada.

The financing round was led by Kolon Industries, a multi-billion-dollar Korean conglomerate. Kolon has a keen interest in Carbonova’s technology applications in Asia, including batteries, plastics, and other materials.  Another major participant in this round was the Natural Gas Innovation Fund NGIF Capital, a venture capital firm focused on innovative technologies for improving the environmental performance of existing or renewable natural gas and hydrogen production. This round also saw strong participation from the company’s directors, management, and staff team. This funding adds to the previously announced $2.5 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada “SDTC” and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program “NRC-IRAP” secured in February of 2023.

“Carbonova’s vision is to create everyday essentials from everyday emissions for everyone on earth, and with this financing, we are on track to complete the design of our first-of-a-kind commercial demo unit to put our vision into action,” said Mina Zarabian, Carbonova’s CEO and Co-Founder. “We have investors and customers from the wide spectrum of the carbon value chain validating the strong pull from the market for transitioning to this recycling of carbon to enhance the building blocks of virtually everything in modern society”.

Carbonova currently produces carbon nanomaterials for customers at a pilot facility at the company’s headquarters in northeast Calgary, Alberta. The commercial demonstration expansion will result in unit production cost efficiencies and is forecast to reduce the CO2 footprint of the carbon nanomaterials to below net-zero.

“Carbonova is on track to complete the front-end-engineering design (FEED) of its first commercial demo unit; the new design will represent a significant scale-up from Carbonova’s existing pilot facility,” said Zarabian. “The new plant will generate multiple hundreds of kilograms of carbon nanomaterials per day. This amount is sufficient to generate thousands of tons of sustainable end products and serve dozens of customers to bring their own innovative sustainable products in different sectors to the market.”

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Shell sells interest in SouthCoast Wind

Shell has sold its 50% interest in SouthCoast Wind, a proposed offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts with 2.4 GW of capacity.

Shell New Energies US LLC (Shell), a subsidiary of Shell plc, has sold its 50% equity share in SouthCoast Wind Energy LLC (SouthCoast Wind) to joint venture partner Ocean Winds North America LLC (Ocean Winds), according to a news release.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SouthCoast Wind is a 50-50 joint venture between Shell and Ocean Winds, established to develop offshore wind projects off the coast of Massachusetts.

“In-line with our Powering Progress strategy, Shell continues to hone our portfolio of renewable generation projects in key markets where we have an advantaged position,” said Glenn Wright, Senior Vice President, Shell Energy Americas. “We are grateful to Ocean Winds for their years of partnership within this venture, and continue to seek opportunities to provide more energy, with fewer emissions.”

This deal was structured to simultaneously sign and close, with an immediate effective date.

SouthCoast Wind is developing a proposed offshore wind farm in US federal waters about 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 23 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts with an approximate capacity of 2,400 MW via Lease OCS-A 0521, which covers 127,388 acres. Formerly named Mayflower Wind Energy LLC, this joint venture was established in 2018.

Ocean Winds is a 50-50 offshore wind joint venture owned by EDP Renewables and ENGIE.

In the U.S., Shell is a 50-50 partner in an additional offshore wind joint venture, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC (Atlantic Shores), with EDF-RE Offshore Development, LLC. Atlantic Shores is developing a portfolio of wind farms off the coast of New Jersey and New York.

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Plug Power finalizing $1.6bn DOE loan facility

Executives from liquidity-strapped Plug Power said this morning that they are in the term sheet phase for a $1.6bn loan facility from the Department of Energy. The company burned through another roughly $360m of unrestricted cash in 4Q23, and is implementing a cash management program to avoid another ‘going concern’ warning by the time it files its 10-K.

Plug Power is finalizing a $1.6bn loan facility with the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, CEO Andy Marsh said on an investor update call today.

The New York-based company, which is facing a cash crunch, is in the term sheet phase for the loan facility, Marsh noted, which would help shore up its liquidity in the near term.

Marsh also announced that Plug’s Georgia facility is now operational, making it the largest PEM-based green hydrogen facility in operations in North America.

Last year Plug was on the hunt for a loan facility with Goldman Sachs as advisor, as reported by ReSource.

CFO Paul Middleton said the company has received offers for debt but not on terms that are acceptable to the company. For comparison, under the DOE loan structure, the interest rate on the loan facility will not go higher than 6.5%, the executives said.

Its cash management strategy, Middleton added, will focus on utilizing at-the-market (ATM) share offerings, reducing capex and increasing margins, including through raising product prices, and securing the DOE facility. 

In particular, Plug is focused on solving the ‘going concern’ issue with auditors by the time it files its year-end 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including through the use of a $1bn share offering program. An ATM program allows the issuing company to raise capital through share offerings as needed.

The company has also slowed investments into projects in Texas and New York until it finds a better financing solution, the CFO said. And the achievement of operations at the Georgia facility and the expected 2024 commercial operations date for the Tennessee facility will improve efficiencies.

Overall, Plug is seeking to reduce its cash burn by 70% in 2024 compared to 2023, and is targeting positive free cash flow in the next 12 months, according to Middleton.

The company’s equity has taken a beating in recent months, but is trading up by over 20% in pre-market trading to $3.44 per share.

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M2X partners on gas-to-methanol-to-hydrogen pathway

M2X and Element 1 are pursuing a joint research and development program on the use of M2X’s low-carbon methanol as a feedstock for point-of-use hydrogen production.

M2X Energy, a startup company with a proprietary process technology that converts stranded gas into low-carbon methanol, and Element 1 Corp, a global leader in advanced hydrogen generation systems for the fuel cell industry, are conducting a joint research and development program to explore the use of M2X low-carbon methanol as a feedstock for point-of-use hydrogen production.

Element 1 is demonstrating the viability of low-carbon methanol produced by M2X’s gas-to-methanol unit as a feedstock for its hydrogen generation unit, and subsequent conversion to electricity, according to a news release.

The process technologies developed by the two companies can unlock the potential for clean energy production in demanding locations, where power grids are overloaded, and operating conditions require adaptability and grid independence. After confirming that M2X’s low-carbon methanol is a suitable feedstock for Element 1’s methanol-to-hydrogen systems, methane-rich stranded gases that today are often flared or vented, may instead be harnessed for downstream stationary power applications, hydrogen refueling stations, and on-board generation for hydrogen-fueled road vehicles, trains, and maritime vessels.

Early testing of methanol produced by M2X Energy shows promising results for unlocking hydrogen as a cost-competitive and low-carbon chemical sourced from stranded gases. “M2X is excited about this collaboration with Element 1. Serving as a supplier of low-carbon methanol for Element 1’s process equipment demonstrates our product market fit and the value of M2X low-carbon methanol as an attractive, low-cost hydrogen carrier, especially during the energy transition,” commented Paul Yelvington, Chief Science Officer at M2X.

With details emerging on the implementation of production credits for hydrogen and clean fuels in the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act (e.g., 45V and 45Z), M2X Energy and Element 1 are well-positioned to provide an integrated pathway to cost-competitive, low-carbon hydrogen with greatly simplified logistics for production, transportation, and storage.

Dave Edlund, co-founder and CEO of Element 1 Corp, said, “Low-carbon methanol, such as that produced by the M2X process, offers the most economical and practical pathway to widespread adoption of grid-independent electricity production while maintaining a low-carbon footprint. We are pleased to be partnering with M2X Energy on this important demonstration.”

This cross-industry collaboration aligns with the strategic priorities announced at COP28 for reducing methane emissions and expanding the role of hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier. It lays the groundwork for future commercial partnerships for the supply of M2X Energy’s low-carbon methanol in deployed hydrogen generation equipment using the Element 1 technology.

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Houston ammonia and hydrogen terminal on the block

The owners of a recently developed Houston terminal with proximity to ammonia, hydrogen, and nitrogen pipelines are working with an advisor on a sale process.

The owners of Vopak Moda Houston, a Gulf Coast hydrogen and ammonia terminaling asset, have hired an investment bank to run a sale process, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Intrepid Investment Bankers has been retained to run the process, the sources said.

Vopak Moda and Intrepid did not respond to requests for comment.

Formed in 2016, Vopak Moda Houston is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal Vopak and Moda Midstream. Moda Midstream is a portfolio company of EnCap Flatrock Midstream, which did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2021 the JV commissioned its deepwater dock at the Port of Houston. It has constructed storage and terminal infrastructure for industrial gas product lines, with the stated intention of becoming a premier hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia terminaling hub in the Gulf Coast.

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Hydra Energy raising equity and debt capital for hydrogen refueling infrastructure

The hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets is pursuing an equity raise that will unlock a debt facility for scaling up hydrogen refueling infrastructure in Western Canada.

Hydra Energy, a hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets, is in the midst of a CAD 14m equity capital raise.

The Vancouver-based company is pursuing the equity raise in support of its Prince George hydrogen fueling station, which is set to be operational in 2024 and would be the largest in the world, Hydra CEO Jessica Verhagan.

The equity portion of the financing is needed to unlock an additional CAD 150m debt facility to complete initial scale-up of the company’s planned hydrogen corridor along Highway 16 in Western Canada, Verhagan added.

Verhagan said the company is not working with a financial advisor on the capital raise but could issue RFPs for advisory services in the future. She declined to name the provider of the proposed debt facility, apart from clarifying that it was not government-sponsored.

“To date, Hydra has been signing up commercial fleets and building out its initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure throughout Western Canada, but the company is about to announce expansion throughout the rest of the country via licensing to a national fossil fuel distributor looking to extend its low-carbon alternative fuel offerings,” the executive said via email.

Hydra’s target market to date has been the roughly 5 million Class 8 trucks within North America, Verhagan said, with the company aiming to “conservatively” capture 1% of that market by 2030 through commercial discussions already underway. Hydra is also exploring expansion into the UK as well as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.

“Hydra’s initial focus has been on proving out its Hydrogen-as-a-ServiceTM (HaaSTM) template which includes the company providing its proprietary hydrogen-diesel, co-combustion conversion kits to commercial fleets at zero cost (in exchange for long-term hydrogen fuel contracts at diesel equivalent prices) as well as an initial hydrogen refuelling station to service 65 Hydra- converted trucks in Prince George, B.C.,” she said.

Verhagan said the company will announce its first electrolysis partner for the Prince George hydrogen refueling station early next year. The station will be able to refuel – as quickly as diesel – up to 24 Hydra-converted trucks each hour across four bays. The station will provide hydrogen from two onsite, 5 MW electrolyzers powered with electricity from BC Hydro.

“The adoption of Hydra’s technology really comes down to availability of low carbon hydrogen – showing fleets it’s possible to go green cost-effectively – and government support to utilize hydrogen to reduce trucking emissions right now,” Verhagan said.

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See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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