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Carnival and Proman working on methanol as cruise fuel

The partnership aims to decarbonize existing cruise ships through retrofitting, as well as deploy investment in methanol-fueled new builds.

Costa Group, part of Carnival Corporation, and methanol producer Proman have signed an MOU to push methanol as a marine fuel for the cruise industry, according to a news release.

The partnership aims decarbonize existing cruise ships through retrofitting, as well as deploy investment in methanol-fueled new builds.

The technology to retrofit a vessel to burn methanol as a fuel is available today, as noted by Tim Cornelius, managing director of corporate development at Proman.

“As one of the most widely traded chemical commodities, the infrastructure for ship supply could be adapted from existing infrastructure,” the release states. “All forms of methanol, whether natural-gas based, low-carbon or renewable, can be blended regardless of production pathways.”

The Costa Group includes cruise brands Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises.

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EPCC contract awarded for Australia green hydrogen plant

A consortium consisting Technip Energies and Monford Group has been awarded an EPCC contract to develop Project Yuri.

A consortium consisting Technip Energies and Monford Group has been awarded an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning (EPCC) contract by Yuri Operations Pty Ltd, to develop Project Yuri Phase 0 – a green hydrogen plant in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Project Yuri, developed in partnership with Yara Clean Ammonia and ENGIE, includes a 10 MW electrolysis plant and an 18 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm with its 8 MW Battery Energy System (BESS) providing the necessary energy for the electrolysis. It will produce up to 640 tonnes of green hydrogen per annum for use in the existing Yara Pilbara Ammonia Plant to produce green ammonia.

Technip Energies is responsible for the overall project management and the electrolysis plant engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up, according to a news release. Monford Group is responsible for the overall project construction and the PV farm engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up.

The project has received grant funding from the Federal Government via ARENA, as part of the Advancing Renewables Program and from Western Australia State Government as a part of Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Fund.

Mitsui & Co. Ltd. has agreed to acquire a 28% stake in Yuri Operations Pty Ltd subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions under its investment agreement.

The Yuri project plan has a multi-phase (Phase 0-I-II-III) roadmap, which aims to establish a new industry value chain, harvesting the abundant renewable power in Western Australia, to make renewable hydrogen and ammonia as feedstock for renewable chemical production, as well as renewable fuel for power generation and shipping, serving local and export markets (Asia and beyond).

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European Union gives 213m to Faurecia for clean mobility

Faurecia will develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form.

Faurecia, a subsidiary of the French FORVIA Group, will receive EUR 213m from to develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form, according to a news release.

The money is dedicated to Faurecia’s Historhy Next project. Faurecia’s plant in Allenjoie will produce over 100.000 tanks per year, start of production will be in 2024.

In addition, fuel cell supplier Symbio, a joint venture between Faurecia and Michelin, is also among the 10 projects supported by the French government in IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest), which has dedicated EUR 2.1bn to support the hydrogen industry in France.

A large-scale transformation project, Hymotive will accelerate the mass production of its latest-generation fuel cell systems in Saint-Fons.

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HSB joining Green Hydrogen and Technology Alliance

The engineering and technical risk insurer will focus on inspection test plans and storage and transportation solutions.

HSB has joined the Clean Energy Holdings Renewable Energy and Technology Alliance Platform, according to a press release.

The engineering and technical risk insurer, based in Hartford, Connecticut, has been a member of Munich Re’s Risk Solutions family since 2009. Its role in the group will be to focus on inspection test plans and storage and transportation solutions.

The Alliance comprises Clean Energy Holdings (with ING Americas as financial advisor), Bair Energy, Chart Industries, Equix, RockeTruck, Coast 2 Coast Logistics, and The Eastman Group.

“As the largest Authorized Inspection Agency (AIA) accredited by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), HSB’s contribution to the Renewable Energy and Technology Alliance will focus on defining safe plans for this clean energy emerging industry,” the release states.

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Exclusive: Green hydrogen developer planning capital raises for distributed portfolio

A developer of US green hydrogen projects will need to access the project equity, debt and tax equity markets in the near term for a pipeline of distributed assets nationwide.

NovoHydrogen, the Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer, will be in the market for project financing for a portfolio of distributed green hydrogen projects in 2024, CEO Matt McMonagle said.

The company, which recently agreed to a $20m capital raise with Modern Energy, is aiming to attract additional private equity and infrastructure investors for the projects it is developing, the executive said.

“The opportunity is really there for attractive risk-adjusted returns at the project level based on how we’re structuring these projects with long-term contracted revenue,” he said.

The company plans to bring its first projects online in late 2024 or 2025.

“We don’t have the project financing set at the point that we can announce, but that’s something myself and my team have done in our careers,” McMonagle said, adding that he’s focused on bankability since founding the company. “We wanted to be as easy for the lenders to underwrite as possible.”

No financial advisors have been attached to the project financings, McMonagle said. A recently announced Series A, first reported by ReSource in February, gave the company exposure to investors that want to participate in project financings, he said.

“We’ll really be ramping that process up, likely after the new year,” McMonagle added, declining to say how much the company would need to raise in 2024.

NovoHydrogen doesn’t have a timeline on a Series B, he said.

Distributed pipeline

The company looks to do onsite projects adjacent to consumption, McMonagle said. The first projects that will go online will be 10 MW and smaller.

“Typically the permitting is straightforward in that we’re adding equipment to an already impacted industrial site,” McMonagle said. He declined to elaborate on where these projects are located or what customers they will serve.

The company also has off-site, or near-site projects, where production is decoupled from consumption. But the company still calls those distributed because they are being developed with a targeted customer in mind.

“We want to be as close as possible to that customer,” he said. Those off-site projects typically are larger and will begin coming online in 2026 and 2027.  

In Texas NovoHydrogen has two large-scale green hydrogen developments in production, co-located with greenfield renewables projects, McMonagle said. Partners, including EPC, are in place for those efforts. The company also has projects in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and along the west coast.

“Where can we add the most value and have the biggest competitive advantage?” McMonagle said of the company’s geographic strategy. “We have very specific go-to-markets in each of those regions which we feel play to our strengths.”

NovoHydrogen is a member of the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub and is involved with the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2), though not in line to receive DOE funding through that hub.

Post-IRA, green hydrogen projects will look much like renewables deals from the equity, tax equity and debt perspectives, he said.

“We’re structuring and setting up our projects to take advantage of that existing infrastructure and knowledge base of how to finance deals,” he said. New options on transferability will enable additional financing options as well.

No flipping

NovoHydrogen does not plan to flip projects before COD, McMonagle said.

“We are planning to deploy hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in capex for these projects, and we’ll certainly need to partner with folks to deploy that capital,” McMonagle said. “But we will remain in deals with our customers because that relationship is really the fundamental value that we bring in our business.”

Hydrogen projects are different from renewables in that the customers need greater assurances of resiliency, security of supply and performance, than in a space like solar, he said.

Flipping projects before COD would be inconsistent with the trust required to attract offtakers.

“We don’t believe doing a flip reflects that level of importance and support and, frankly, incentive, behavioral incentive, that we have to show to our customers,” he said.

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Of CfDs and RFNBOs: Untangling the global hydrogen policy web

US ammonia and hydrogen project developers are increasingly looking to Japan and South Korea as target markets under the belief that new rules for clean hydrogen and its derivatives in Europe are too onerous.

Much fuss has been made about the importance of pending guidance for the clean hydrogen industry from US regulators. Zoom out further and major demand centers like the European Union, Japan, and South Korea have similarly under-articulated or novel subsidy regimes, leaving US clean fuels project developers in a dizzying global tangle of red tape. 

But in the emerging global market for hydrogen and ammonia offtake, several themes are turning up. One is that US project developers are increasingly looking to South Korea and Japan as buyers, turning away from Europe following the implementation of rules that are viewed as too onerous for green hydrogen producers.

The other is that beneath the regulatory tangle lies a deep market, helping to answer one of the crucial outstanding questions that has been dogging the nascent ammonia and hydrogen industry: where is the offtake? 

Many projects are proceeding towards definitive offtake agreements and final investment decisions despite the risks embedded in potential changes in policy, according to multiple project finance lawyers. In most cases, reaching final agreements for offtake would not be prudent given the raft of un-issued guidance in these major markets, said the lawyers, who acknowledge a robust offtake market but may advise their clients against signing final contracts.

The European Union rules for green hydrogen and its derivatives became law in June, and included several provisions that are proving challenging for developers and their lawyers to structure around: prohibiting state-subsidized electricity in the production of green hydrogen, and the requirement that power for green hydrogen be purchased directly from a renewable energy supplier. 

Taken together, the policy developments have pushed many US project developers away from Europe and toward Japan and South Korea, where demand for low-carbon fuels is robust and regulations are viewed as less burdensome, if still undefined, experts say.

Developers are carefully choosing jurisdictions for their target offtake markets, “limiting their focus to North Asian rather than European buyers, with the expectation that certain standards and regulations will be less strict, at least in the near term,” said Allen & Overy Partners Hitomi Komachi and Henry Sohn, who are based in Japan and Korea, respectively.

Trade association Hydrogen Europe lambasted the new European rules last year while they were still in formation, saying they would cause a “mass exodus” of the continent’s green hydrogen industry to the US.

Make or break

US policymakers delivered a shock blow with last year’s approval of the Inflation Reduction Act – but its full benefits have yet to flow into the clean fuels sector due to outstanding guidance on additionality, regionality, and matching requirements. 

At the same time, the 45V tax credit for clean hydrogen has been called potentially the most complex tax credit the US market has ever seen, requiring a multi-layered analysis to ensure compliance. The US policy uncertainty is coated on top of an already-complex development landscape facing developers of first-of-kind hydrogen and ammonia projects using electrolyzer or carbon capture technologies. 

“Even though folks are moving forward with projects, the lack of guidance impacts parties’ willingness to sign definitive documents, because depending on the guidance, for some projects, it could break the economics,” said Marcia Hook, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington DC.

Now, US developers seeking access to international markets are contending with potential misalignment of local and international rules, with Europe’s recently enacted guidelines serving as a major example of poorly arrayed schemes. 

Some US developers have already decided it may be challenging to meet the EU’s more rigorous standards, according Hook, who added that, beyond the perceived regulatory flexibility, developers appear to be garnering more offtake interest from potential buyers in Asia.

Projects that depend on outstanding guidance in Asia are also moving ahead, a fact that, according to Alan Alexander, a Houston-based partner at Vinson & Elkins, “represents a little bit of the optimism and excitement around low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia,” particularly in Japan and Korea.

“Projects are going forward but with conditions that these schemes get worked out in a way that’s bankable for the project,” he added. “It’s not optimal, but you can build it in,” he said, referencing a Korean contract where conditions precedent require that a national clean hydrogen portfolio standard gets published and the offtaker is successful in one of the  Korean power auctions.

RED III tape

Unlike the US, the EU has focused on using regulation to create demand for hydrogen and derivative products through setting mandatory RFNBO quotas for the land transport, industry, shipping and aviation sectors, according to Frederick Lazell, a London-based lawyer at King & Spalding.

Lazell called the EU rules “the most fully-developed and broad market-creation interventions that policymakers have imposed anywhere in the world.” As a result, being able to sell RFNBO into Europe to meet these quotas is expected to fetch the highest prices – and therefore potentially the highest premiums to suppliers, he said.

The European guidelines enacted in June introduced several provisions that will make it challenging for US developers to structure projects that meet the EU’s classification for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs).

For one, the European Commission issued guidance that prohibits subsidies for renewable energy generation when it is transmitted via a power purchase agreement through the electrical grid to make RFNBO.

This provision potentially eliminates all green hydrogen-based projects in the US from qualifying as an RFNBO, a managing partner at a US-based investment firm said, given that green hydrogen projects will likely be tied to renewables that are earning tax credits.

“The EC’s decision to include this restriction on State aid makes the EU’s version of additionality more onerous than even the strictest requirements being considered in the US,” lawyers from King & Spalding wrote in a September note, adding that some people in the industry argue that the decision is inexplicable under the RED II framework that authorized the European Commission to define additionality. 

A second challenge of the EU regulations is the mandate that PPAs be contracted between the RFNBO producer and the renewable energy source. Such a requirement is impossible for electricity markets where state entities are mandated to purchase and supply power, a structure that is common in multiple jurisdictions. Moreover, the requirement would remove the possibility of using a utility or other intermediary to deliver power for green hydrogen production.

“These technical issues may be serious enough for some in the industry to consider challenges before the Court of Justice of the European Union,” the King & Spalding lawyers wrote. “However, it is not yet clear whether there is the appetite or ability to turn such suggestions into a formal claim.”

Go East

Although the subsidy regimes in Japan and South Korea are expected to be less stringent in comparison to the EU, the programs are still not completely defined, which leaves some uncertainty in dealmaking as projects move forward.

The traditional energy sector has always dealt with change-in-law risk, but the risk is heightened now since regulations can change more rapidly and, in some cases, impact ongoing negotiations, said Komachi and Sohn, of Allen & Overy, in a joint email response. 

“Certain regulations coming into force may be contingent or related to the funding plan of the project,” they said. As such, clean fuels offtake frameworks need to facilitate not only the tracking and counting of emissions, they added, but also leave sufficient flexibility as regulatory frameworks evolve.

Japan, through its Hydrogen Basic Strategy, set out targets to increase the supply of hydrogen and ammonia in the country while reducing costs, deploying Japanese electrolysis equipment, and increasing investment into its supply chain. Additionally, Japan is contemplating a contracts-for-difference-style regime to support the gap between the price of clean hydrogen or ammonia and corresponding fossil fuels for 15 years.

Still, standards for “clean hydrogen” have not been clarified, though most observers believe the country will follow a carbon emissions lifecycle analysis in line with IPHE criteria, which is proposed at 3.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilogram of hydrogen. Similarly, rules around “stacking” subsidies in Japan with other jurisdictions such as the Inflation Reduction Act have not been defined.

Meanwhile, Korea is considering carbon emissions standards of up to 4 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of hydrogen. It is pushing for greater use of hydrogen in part through its Amended Hydrogen Act, requiring electric utilities to buy electricity made from hydrogen in a bidding round starting in 2024. The requirement scales up from 1,300 GWh of general hydrogen in 2025 to 5,200 GWh for general hydrogen and 9,5000 GWh for clean hydrogen in 2028.

Both countries are working to incentivize the entire supply chain for hydrogen and ammonia to ensure the separate pieces of infrastructure will be available on investable and bankable terms, with the aim of creating a demand center when the export centers are developed, Komachi and Sohn added.

They also point out that the emerging clean fuels offtake market will operate in the near term in a more spotty fashion in comparison with the more liquid markets for oil and gas.

“Hydrocarbon markets have gradually moved towards portfolio players, trading and optimization,” said Goran Galic, an Australia-based partner at Allen & Overy. “Smaller market size, technological and regulatory considerations mean that clean fuels, at least initially, require more of a point-to-point approach and so building long-term working relationships between the developers and offtakers is a key aspect of offtake strategy.”

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Exclusive: Plug Power enlists bank to evaluate financing options

The cash-burning company is working with a bulge-bracket American bank to evaluate debt financing options to help stave off a liquidity crisis.

Plug Power is working with Goldman Sachs to evaluate a capital raise in the form of debt financing to shore up its balance sheet, sources said.

The New York-based company recently said it was at risk of a liquidity crisis in the next 12 months if it is not able to raise additional capital, noting it was exploring various options for bringing in financing.

Its total cash and cash equivalents as of September 30 stood at $567m, representing a decline of $580m for the quarter, according to SEC filings. The company also has nearly $1bn of restricted cash balances stemming from sale-leaseback transactions, of which $50m becomes available per quarter.

In a shareholder letter and on its 3Q23 earnings call, executives outlined the financing options that are on the table for the company, including a debt raise, funding from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, and bringing in project equity partners for its facilities.

The company is “evaluating varied debt financing solutions to support [its] growth,” according to the shareholder letter. CFO Paul Middleton added on the call that they’ve had “some expressions of offers for ABL-like facilities” as well as restricted cash advance facilities. 

CEO Andy Marsh said the company would need to raise between $500m – $600m, according to a news report from Barron’s.

Representatives of Plug Power and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Plug is also working towards a conditional commitment from the DOE Loan Program Office to finance plants in its green hydrogen network. 

“The framework that we’re working on with them is a $1.5bn platform that would fund our green plants and would fund from construction phase onwards,” CFO Middleton said, adding that the funding could amount to as much as 80% of the projects. 

Middleton said he expected the DOE loan, if granted, would start funding in early 2Q24, and could even be used to back lever some of its existing plants in Texas and New York.

The company’s stock traded today with a $2.34bn market cap, while its outstanding debt consists of a $200m convertible note issued in 2020.

The notes traded around 130 cents of par before Plug’s going concern announcement, and subsequently dropped to trade in the high-70s, with quotes this week in the 80s.

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