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Carlsun to build H2 fueling station at Toronto airport

This project is enabled by a $1m federal investment from Natural Resources Canada.

Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Carlsun Energy plan to build Ontario’s first public hydrogen refueling station with capability for both cars and transport trucks, according to a news release.

The hydrogen station is part of Toronto Pearson’s commitment to energy solutions in the aviation industry.

The refueling station will be built, owned, and operated by Carlsun. The project is enabled by a $1m federal investment from Natural Resources Canada.

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Verdagy hires chief commercial officer from Plug Power

Electrolyzer start-up Verdagy has hired a chief commercial officer from Plug Power.

Verdagy, a green hydrogen electrolysis company with over a decade of technology and product development, announced today the appointment of David Bow as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). Bow will lead Verdagy’s revenue, sales and business development.

“I am excited to join Verdagy at a pivotal time as the company scales up commercial deployments and decarbonizes hard-to-abate industries,” Bow said in a news release. “I will apply my decades of experience in the hydrogen and electrolyzer domains to successfully drive Verdagy’s revenue growth targets.”

Bow recently served as Executive Vice President of Plug Power’s Electrolyzer Solutions, where in three years, he advanced Plug from a new player in the electrolyzer system market to a global leader. He previously held the position of Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at Nel Hydrogen. Prior to Nel, Bow was the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Proton OnSite. Early in his career, Bow developed electrolyzers for the purification of biochemicals used in biotherapeutics.

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Energy Impact Partners closes decarbonization fund at USD 485m

The fund has already invested in 12 companies, including: Form Energy, Nitricity, Carbon America, Sublime Systems, Electric Hydrogen and Rondo Energy.

Energy Impact Partners has closed the EIP Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund I LP, oversubscribed with global investor support, at $485m, according to a press release.

The fund will invest in climate technologies, focusing on companies that have achieved early technical validation but have not yet reached maturity at scale. It has already invested in 12 companies, including: Form Energy, Nitricity, Carbon America, Sublime Systems, Electric Hydrogen and Rondo Energy.

The investment in Electric Hydrogen was joined by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Capricorn Technology Impact Fund, and Prelude Ventures.

Founded in 2015, EIP has enabled more than 350 contracts, more than $1bn in bookings and business to a portfolio of 100+ companies.

Including this fund, EIP has raised more than $3bn and saw the majority of existing strategic investors commit to the Frontier Fund, adding to a diverse LP base comprised of corporates, banks, sovereign wealth funds, family offices, high net worth individuals and foundations from North America, Asia and Europe.

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Pattern Energy: Offtakers increasingly want equity in projects

Ammonia and hydrogen offtakers are increasingly interested in taking equity stakes as a way of understanding the complex dynamics of the projects they will be offtaking from.

Potential offtakers of ammonia and hydrogen around the world want to take equity stakes in the projects that they will be offtaking from, Erika Taugher of Pattern Energy said last week.

The offtakers – fertilizer and industrial firms, commodities traders, and power conglomerates, mostly in Japan – are seeking to take equity ownership as a means of understanding the novel complexities involved in building first-of-kind projects, said Taugher, a director of green fuels at Pattern.

While initial conversations for offtake for Pattern’s projects involved more standard 10 to 20 year contracts, the negotiations have evolved to include equity stakes.

“All the conversations I’m having with these offtakers – they’re now interested in equity in the project,” she said. “I think that’s interesting to note because there’s so much uncertainty that these offtakers really want to get an inside view on where the money is going, how it’s being spent. They want to collaborate with us on the model. They want to know how many ships we’re sending to Europe a month.”

Pattern, which is owned by CPP Investments, is involved with the Port of Corpus Christi hydrogen hub, and is aiming to bring hydrogen from West Texas to Corpus Christi. The company is planning to export ammonia in the near term until hydrogen transport infrastructure is more mature, Taugher added.

Taugher detailed the main challenges for securing offtake for projects, including pending policy issues, questions about financeability, and logistics.

Pattern and its partners are collaborating with a company that is building a 500-mile pipeline from West Texas to the Gulf, she said. Shared infrastructure with other large players at the Port of Corpus Christi helps to keep costs down.

The company is nearing a deal for offtake, and is openly sharing project information with various potential counterparties, she said, “one of which the exclusivity period ends and we go right into negotiations on the offtake contract before the end of the year.”

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CCS developer initiating discussions for corporate capital raise

Following its sale of a stake in a mega-scale carbon capture project in the Gulf Coast, Carbonvert is planning to initiate conversations to raise additional corporate capital, with plans to deploy as much as $500m into new projects.

Carbonvert, a Houston-based carbon capture and sequestration developer, is planning to start conversations soon with an eye to raise corporate capital that will allow it to advance mega-scale CCS projects, CEO Alex Tiller said in an interview.

Owned by a group of outside investors and the management team, Carbonvert is advancing a business model that takes advantage of the group’s expertise in early-stage project development, Tiller said.

The company recently completed the sale of its 25% interest in the Bayou Bend CCS project to Norway’s Equinor, which will now own the development alongside Chevron (50%) and Talos Energy (25%).

Bayou Bend CCS is the type of mega-scale project that Carbonvert will be pursuing in coming years, and for which the company will need to raise as much as $500m in corporate capital due to the capital-intensive nature of the projects, Tiller said.

Chevron last year bought its 50% operating stake in Bayou Bend for $50m, implying a $100m valuation for the project, which is positioned to become one of the largest CCS developments in the US for industrial emitters, with nearly 140,000 gross acres of pore space – 100,000 onshore and 40,000 offshore.

Carbonvert’s stake sale, announced yesterday, was “a positive result” for the company, Tiller said, though he declined to comment further on the valuation.

“It delivers capital to our balance sheet and allows us to grow our pipeline of projects and fund additional projects,” he said. Carbonvert used Jefferies as sell-side financial advisor in the sale to Equinor, he added.

Tiller, a veteran of the renewable energy industry, is a founding member of Carbonvert alongside Chief Development Officer Jan Sherman, who previously had a 30-year career with Shell and helped build the oil major’s Quest CCS project in Alberta, Canada.

For the upcoming capital raise, Carbonvert has not decided on whether to use a financial advisor; the structure of the capital raise will likely determine if an advisor is needed, Tiller said.

“We’ll definitely be out raising more corporate capital – these projects are tremendously expensive,” he said. “We’ll be starting conversations soon.”

The company has a line of sight to deploy as much as $500m of capital into its own projects over the next several years, he said, an indication of how much capital it will need to raise.

“These are large infrastructure projects that are going to take many years to bring to fruition, followed by decades of operations,” he said. “We live at the front end of the projects,” he added, “and when the appropriate parties are at the table, it’s really an act of humility to say ‘hey, maybe we’ve taken this as far as we can or should,’” a reference to finding the right time to sell the company’s stakes in the projects it is developing.

In addition to the Bayou Bend CCS project, Carbonvert is part of a consortium that’s developing a carbon hub in Wyoming. The company is also collaborating on an exploratory study for the direct air capture and storage of CO2 emissions from a nuclear power plant in Alabama.

“You can expect to see project announcements that look like Bayou Bend in the future,” Tiller said. “We like that type of mega-scale project, we like offshore, and we’re also pursuing some opportunities onshore that are less mature.”

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Exclusive: Inside Strata’s P2X strategy

Strata Clean Energy is seeking to engage with global chemical, energy, and shipping companies as a potential partner for a pipeline of green hydrogen projects that will have FIDs in 2025 and CODs later this decade.

Strata Clean Energy is developing a pipeline of green hydrogen projects that will produce large amounts of green ammonia and other hydrogen derivatives later this decade.

Mike Grunow, executive vice president and general manager of Strata’s Power-to-X platform, said in an interview that the company is investing in the development of proprietary modeling and optimization software that forms part of its strategy to de-risk Power-to-X projects for compliance with strict 45V tax credit standards.

“We’re anticipating having the ability to produce substantial amounts of low-carbon ammonia in the back half of this decade from a maturing pipeline of projects that we’ve been developing, and we’re looking to collaborate with global chemical, energy, and shipping companies on the next steps for these projects,” he said.

Strata’s approach to potential strategic offtakers could also include the partner taking an equity stake in projects, “with the right partner,” Grunow said. The projects are expected to reach FID in 2025.

Grunow declined to comment on the specific size or regional focus of the projects.

“We aspire for the projects to be as large as possible,” he said. “All of the projects are in deep discussions with the regional transmission providers to determine the schedule at which more and more transmission capacity can be made available.”

Strata will apply its expertise in renewable energy to the green hydrogen industry, he said, which involves the deployment of unique combinations of renewable energy, energy storage, and energy trading to deliver structured products to large industrial clients, municipal utilities and regulated utilities.

The company “commits to providing 100% hourly matched renewable energy over a guaranteed set of hours over the course of an entire year for 10 – 20 years,” Grunow said.

“It’s our expectation that the European regulations and more of the global regulations, and the guidance from the US Treasury will require that the clean energy supply projects are additional, deliverable within the same ISO/RTO, and that, eventually, the load of the electrolyzer will need to follow the production of the generation,” he said.

Strata’s strategy for de-risking compliance with the Inflation Reduction Act’s 45V revenue stream for green hydrogen will give asset-level lenders certainty on the delivery of a project’s IRA incentives.

“Right now, if I’m looking at a project with an hourly matched 45V revenue stream, I have substantial doubt about that project’s ability to actually staple the hourly matched RECs to the amount of hydrogen produced in an hour, to the ton of hydrogen derivative,” he said.

During the design phase, developers evaluate multiple electrolyzer technologies, hourly matching of variable generation, price uncertainty and carbon intensity of the grid, plant availability and maintenance costs along with evolving 45V compliance requirements.

Meanwhile, during the operational phase, complex revenue streams need to be optimized. In certain markets with massive electrical loads, an operator has the opportunity to earn demand response and ancillary service revenues, Grunow said.

Optimal operations

“The key to maximizing the value of these assets is optimal operations,” he said, noting project optionality between buying and selling energy, making and storing hydrogen, and using hydrogen to make a derivative such as ammonia or methanol.

Using its software, Strata can make a complete digital twin of a proposed plant in the design phase, which accounts for the specifications of the commercially available electrolyzer families.

Strata analyzes an hourly energy supply schedule for every project it evaluates, across 8,760 hours a year and 20 years of expected operating life. It can then cue up that digital project twin – with everything known about the technology options, their ability to ramp and turn down, and the drivers of degradation – and analyze optimization for different electrolyzer operating formats. 

“It’s fascinating right now because the technology development cycle is happening in less than 12 months, so every year you need to check back in with all the vendors,” he said. “This software tool allows us to do that in a hyper-efficient way.”

A major hurdle the green hydrogen industry still needs to overcome, according to Grunow, is aligning the commercial aspects of electrolysis with its advances in technological innovation.

“The lender at the project level needs the technology vendor to take technology and operational risk for 10 years,” he said. “So you need a long-term service agreement, an availability guarantee, key performance metric guarantees on conversion efficiency,” he said, “and those guarantees must have liquidated damages for underperformance, and those liquidated damages must be backstopped by a limitation of liability and a domestic entity with substantial credit. Otherwise these projects won’t get financed.”

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Interview: Vinson & Elkins’ Alan Alexander on the emerging hydrogen project development landscape

Vinson & Elkins Partner Alan Alexander, whose clients include OCI and Lotus Infrastructure, has watched the hydrogen project development space evolve from a fledgling idea to one that is ready for actionable projects.

Vinson & Elkins Partner Alan Alexander, whose clients include OCI and Lotus Infrastructure, has watched the hydrogen project development space evolve from a fledgling idea to one that is ready for actionable projects.

In the meantime, a number of novel legal and commercial issues facing hydrogen project developers have come to the forefront, as outlined in a paper from the law firm this week, which serves as a guide for thinking through major development questions that can snag projects.

In an interview, Alexander, a Houston-based project development and finance lawyer, says that, although some of the issues are unique – like the potential for a clean fuels pricing premium, ownership of environmental attributes, or carbon leaking from a sequestration site – addressing them is built on decades of practice.

“The way I like to put it is, yes, there are new issues being addressed using traditional tools, but there’s not yet a consensus around what constitutes ‘market terms’ for a number of them, so we are having to figure that out as we go,” he says.

Green hydrogen projects, for example, are “quite possibly” the most complex project type he has seen, given that they sit at the nexus between renewable electricity and downstream fuels applications, subjecting them to the commercial and permitting issues inherent in both verticals.

But even given the challenges, Alexander believes the market has reached commercial take-off for certain types of projects.

“When the hydrogen rush started, first it was renewables developers who knew a lot about how to develop renewables but nothing about how to market and sell hydrogen,” he says. “Then you got the people who were very enthusiastic about developing hydrogen projects but didn’t know exactly what to do with it. And now we’re beginning to see end-use cases develop and actionable projects that are very exciting, in some cases where renewables developers and hydrogen developers have teamed up to focus on their core competencies.”

A pricing premium?

In the article, Vinson & Elkins lawyers note that commodities pricing indices are not yet distinguishing between low-carbon and traditional fuels, even though a clean fuel has more value due to its low-carbon attributes. The observation echoes the conclusion of a group of offtakers who viewed the prospect of paying a premium for clean fuels as unrealistic, as they would need to pass on the higher costs to customers.

Eventually, Alexander says, the offtake market should price in a premium for clean products, but that might depend in the near term on incentives for clean fuels demand, such as carbon offsets and levies, like the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

“Ultimately what we need is for the market to say, ‘I will pay more for low-carbon products,’” he says. “The mindset of being willing to pay more for low-carbon products is going to need to begin to permeate into other sectors. 30 or 40 years ago the notion of paying a premium for an organic food didn’t exist. But today there are whole grocery store chains built around the idea. When the consumer is willing to pay a premium for low-carbon food, that will incentivize a farmer to pay a premium for low carbon fertilizer and ammonia, which will ultimately incentivize the payment of a premium for low-carbon hydrogen. The same needs to repeat itself across other sectors, such as fuels and anything made from steel.”

The law firm writes that US projects seeking to export to Europe or Asia need to take into account the greenhouse gas emissions and other requirements of the destination market when designing projects.

In the agreements that V&E is working on, for example, clients were first focused on structuring to make sure they met requirements for IRA tax credits and other domestic incentives, Alexander says. Meanwhile, as those clean fuels made their way to export markets, customers were coming back with a long list of requirements, “so what we’re seeing is this very interesting influx” of sustainability considerations into the hydrogen space, many of which are driven by requirements of the end-use market, such as the EU or Japan.

The more stringent requirements have existed for products like biofuels for some time, he adds, “but we’re beginning to see it in hydrogen and non-biogenic fuels.”

Sharing risk

Hydrogen projects are encountering other novel commercial and legal issues for which a “market” has not yet been developed, the law firm says, especially given the entry of a raft of new players and the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

In the case of a blue hydrogen or ammonia project where carbon is captured and sequestered but eventually leaks from a geological formation, for example, no one knows what the risk truly is, and the market is waiting for an insurance product to provide protection, Alexander says. But until it does, project parties can implement a risk-sharing mechanism in the form of a cap on liabilities – a traditional project development tool.

“If you’re a sequestration party you say, ‘Yeah, I get it, there is a risk of recapture and you’re relying on me to make sure that it doesn’t happen. But if something catastrophic does happen and the government were to reclaim your tax credits, it would bankrupt me if I were to fully indemnify you. So I simply can’t take the full amount of that risk.’”

What ends up getting negotiated is a cap on the liability, Alexander says, or the limit up to which the sequestration party is willing to absorb the liability through an indemnity.

The market is also evolving to take into account project-on-project risk for hydrogen, where an electrolyzer facility depends on the availability of, for example, clean electricity from a newly built wind farm.

“For most of my career, having a project up and reaching commercial operations by a certain date is addressed through no-fault termination rights,” he says. “But given the number of players in the hydrogen space and the amount of dollars involved, you’re beginning to see delay liquidated damages – which are typically an EPC concept – creep into supply and offtake agreements.”

If a developer is building an electrolyzer facility, and the renewables partner doesn’t have the wind farm up and running on time, it’s not in the hydrogen developer’s interest to terminate through a no-fault clause, given that they would then have a stranded asset and need to start over with another renewable power provider. Instead, Alexander says, the renewables partner can offset the losses by paying liquidated damages.

Commercial watch list

In terms of interesting commercial models for hydrogen, Alexander says he is watching the onsite modular hydrogen development space as well as power-to-fuels (natural gas, diesel, SAF), ammonia and methanol, given the challenges of transporting hydrogen.

“If you’re going to produce hydrogen, you need to produce it close to the place where it’s going to be consumed, because transporting it is hard. Or you need to turn it into something else that we already know how to transport – natural gas, renewable diesel, naphtha, ammonia.”

Alexander believes power-to-fuels projects and developers that are focused on smaller, on-site modular low-carbon hydrogen production are some of the most interesting to watch right now. Emitters are starting to realize they can lower their overall carbon footprint, he says, with a relatively small amount of low-carbon fuels and inputs.

“The argument there is to not completely replace an industrial gas supplier but to displace a little bit of it.”

At the same time, the mobility market may take off with help from US government incentives for hydrogen production and the growing realization that EVs might not provide a silver-bullet solution for decarbonizing transport, Alexander adds. However, hydrogen project developers targeting the mobility market are still competing with the cost of diesel, the current “bogey” for the hydrogen heavy mobility space, Alexander says.

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