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Chemours nets approvals for fuel cell membrane manufacturing

A Chemours JV will supply fuel cell and humidifier membranes globally, enabling downstream customers to accelerate conversion to green, hydrogen-powered heavy-duty transportation.

The Chemours Company has obtained the required approvals from the European Commission and the People’s Republic of China State Administration for Market Regulations to launch operations at its joint venture with BWT FUMATECH Mobility GmbH, under the name of THE Mobility F.C. Membranes Company GmbH – A BWT Chemours Company.

FUMATECH BWT GmbH is an established player in multiple hydrogen markets focused on membrane manufacturing in the field of fuel cell technology.

The 50-50 joint venture focuses on integrating the unique capabilities, resources, and technological expertise of each company to elevate and accelerate the capacity to manufacture fuel cell and humidifier membranes for mobility applications for long-term customers. By leveraging the best of each partner’s complementary assets, THE Mobility F.C. Membranes Company GmbH – A BWT Chemours Company will expedite the supply of HDFC membranes to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), helping to meet the demand for these membranes that are critical to fully scaling the global hydrogen economy.

“Our Nafion ion exchange membranes are playing a critical role in driving the hydrogen economy and helping to create a more sustainable future, ” said Gerardo Familiar, president of Advanced Performance Materials at Chemours. “The technologies and solutions powered by our chemistry enable modern life and support economies across the world. Our joint venture with FUMATECH BWT GmbH and the BWT Group will enable solutions to support the future of clean energy and the transition to

THE Mobility F.C. Membranes Company will supply fuel cell and humidifier membranes globally, enabling downstream customers to accelerate conversion to green, hydrogen-powered heavy-duty transportation, driving green goals and sustainable policy frameworks in the E.U., the U.S. and elsewhere. With regulatory approvals in place the joint venture can now officially begin operation producing fuel cells and humidifier membranes for the mobility market.

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IRS releases proposed regulations for 45V

The IRS has proposed strict rules for its approach to clean hydrogen tax credit qualifications.

Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations on the Clean Hydrogen Production Credit established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

A link to the document that will be published in the Federal Register next week is here.

The agencies have taken the so-called three pillars approach for incrementality, temporal matching, and deliverability. These requirements are crucial, the IRS says, for accounting for both existing and new electricity generation from biomass or fossil feedstock, as they inform the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impact of these sources.

The notice of public rulemaking will be open for public comment for 60 days once it is published in the Federal Register.

The NPRM is supported by a technical paper from DOE that considers how to assess lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with hydrogen production using electricity.

Incrementality:

  • The incrementality requirement is met if the Electricity Attribute Certificate (EAC) is related to an electricity generating facility with a Commercial Operation Date (COD) no more than 36 months before the related hydrogen production facility was placed in service. This requirement ensures that the energy production contributing to the EAC is relatively recent and relevant to the current energy market conditions​​.
  • Recognizing the difficulty in identifying specific electricity generators and the times and places for incrementality, the IRS is considering alternative approaches, including a proxy approach. This approach would consider five percent of the hourly generation from minimal-emitting electricity generators (like wind, solar, nuclear) to meet the incrementality requirement, still subject to temporal matching and deliverability requirements​​.

Temporal Matching:

  • The temporal matching requirement generally mandates that the EAC represents electricity generated in the same hour as the hydrogen production facility’s consumption of electricity. A transition rule allows, until January 1, 2028, for EACs representing electricity generated in the same calendar year as the hydrogen production to meet this requirement. This approach aims to address significant indirect emissions from electricity use​​.

Deliverability:

  • The deliverability requirement stipulates that the EAC must represent electricity generated by a source in the same region as the hydrogen production facility. This ensures a reasonable assurance of the electricity’s deliverability to the intended location​​.

In addition to these specific requirements, the document discusses how these concepts might be applied differently in the context of renewable natural gas (RNG) or biogas, taking into account the different emission sources, markets, tracking methods, and potential incentives​​.

The IRS and the Treasury Department are actively seeking feedback on these proposed regulations, particularly concerning the practical implementation and verification of these requirements.

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C-Zero closes financing round for gas decarbonization pilot

The company has closed a $34m dollar financing round led by SK Gas.

C-Zero Inc., a clean energy company that has developed a technology for natural gas decarbonization, has closed a $34m dollar financing round led by SK Gas, a subsidiary of South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, the SK Group.

SK Gas was joined by two other new investors – Engie New Ventures and Trafigura, one of the world’s largest physical commodities trading companies – in addition to participation from all existing investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Eni Next, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and AP Ventures, according to a news release.

The funding will be used to build C-Zero’s first pilot plant, which is expected to be online in Q1 2023. The plant will be capable of producing up to 400kg of hydrogen per day from natural gas with no CO2 emissions.

“We are excited to be scaling up our innovative technology with experienced investors and partners who recognize the need to decarbonize natural gas and the opportunity that turquoise hydrogen production represents,” said Eric McFarland, CTO of C-Zero. “Natural gas provides a quarter of the world’s energy, so the scale of the opportunity ahead of us is enormous. But we cannot do it alone.”

“We are eager to bring C-Zero’s technology to Korea, where we see great synergies with our plans to build a hydrogen value chain complex in Ulsan,” said Brian (Byung Suk) Yoon, CEO of SK Gas. “SK Gas strongly believes in the potential of methane pyrolysis and its ability to help countries like Korea in their decarbonization efforts by producing low-cost, clean hydrogen.”

“We see significant applications for low-carbon hydrogen production through methane pyrolysis which complement ENGIE’s existing activities and skill sets. Investing early on in C-Zero’s journey brings us familiarity with the technology, and could help ENGIE achieve its goal of Net Zero by 2045” said Johann Boukhors, Managing Director of ENGIE New Ventures.

“Trafigura is backing C-Zero as part of a series of investments in clean energy technologies, including low-carbon fuels needed for the energy transition. C-Zero is reaching a critical stage with the construction of its first pilot plant to successfully demonstrate the production of low-carbon hydrogen from natural gas,” said Julien Rolland, Head of Power and Renewables for Trafigura.

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HTEC gets CAD 10m in federal funds for hydrogen facility at pulp mill

HTEC’s project will operate a renewable hydrogen production facility at a pulp mill in British Columbia.

HTEC and West Fraser Mills will receive CAD 10m from the Canadian government through a program seeking to facilitate adoption of innovative technologies.

Located in Nanaimo, B.C., HTEC’s project will operate a renewable hydrogen production facility at the Harmac Pacific Pulp Mill, producing clean hydrogen by electrolysis, according to a news release.

HTEC last year secured a CAD 217m investment from Chart Industries and I Squared Capital.

With a CAD 10m contribution through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, the hydrogen will be used as clean fuel for transportation and heating, and will help the mill decarbonize its operations. HTEC’s project with Harmac Pacific is an example of how surplus energy from mills can be utilized to lower emissions and advance federal and provincial clean hydrogen goals, according to the release.

“HTEC’s growing network of hydrogen fuelling stations due to the industry demand for low-carbon transportation fuel in Canada has necessitated the development of local hydrogen production,” HTEC CEO Colin Armstrong said in a statement. “We are building multiple clean-hydrogen production facilities across the country, and this Nanaimo-based facility is a critical piece of the clean hydrogen value chain. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for its ongoing support in decarbonizing Canada’s transportation sector, allowing us to expand our retail fuelling network and opening up new market opportunities for heavy-duty transportation applications.”

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Exclusive: Renewable fuels firm hires advisor for topco raise

A renewable fuels firm with operations in California has hired a bulge bracket bank to raise project and platform capital for new developments in the Gulf Coast.

Oberon Fuels, a California-based renewable fuels developer, has hired Morgan Stanley for a topco and project capital raise to launch soon, CEO Rebecca Bordreaux said in an interview.

The company, backed by Suburban Propane, plans to reach COD on its next facility in the Gulf Coast in 2026, Boudreaux said. Late last year the company hired its first CFO Ann Anthony and COO Derek Winkel.

Oberon produces rDME at its Maverick Innovation Center in Brawley, California and recently established a partnership with DCC Fuels focused on Europe.

The location of the Gulf Coast facility is not public, Bordreaux said, though the company aims to reach FID on it this year. When operational it would produce 45,000 mtpy of methanol, or a comparative amount of rDME. Capex on the facility is in the range of $200m.

The company is shifting toward production of methanol as a shipping fuel, she said. New opportunities also include using DME as a renewable hydrogen carrier, as the fuel is easily transportable and compatible with many existing logistical networks.

Oberon is also preparing to issue $100m of municipal bonds from the state of Texas, Bordreaux said.

More than $50m has been raised by the company to date, with Suburban Propane being the largest investor and customer in California, Bordreaux said. The company has a third project in the pre-FEED phase.

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EnCap’s Shawn Cumberland on the fund’s approach to clean fuels

Cumberland, a managing partner with EnCap Energy Transition, discusses how the clean fuels sector compares to the emergence of other new energy technologies, and outlines the firm’s wait-and-see approach to investment in hydrogen and other clean fuels.

EnCap Energy Transition, the energy transition-focused arm of EnCap Investments, is evaluating scores of opportunities in the hydrogen and clean fuels space but doesn’t feel the need to be an early mover if the risk economics don’t work, Managing Partner Shawn Cumberland said in an interview.

Houston-based EnCap prefers to invest in early stages and grow companies deploying proven technologies to the point that they’re ready to be passed onto another investor with much deeper pockets. There are hundreds of early-stage clean fuels companies looking for growth equity in the space, he said, but the firm believes it’s not necessary to deploy before the technology or market is ready.

Given the fund’s strategy of investing in the growth-equity stage, EnCap gains exposure to a niche set of businesses that are not yet subjected to the broader financial markets.

For example, when EnCap stood up Energy Transition Fund I, a $1.2bn growth capital vehicle, the manager piled heavily into storage, dedicating some $600m, more than half of the fund, to the sector.

“That was at a time when all we saw were some people putting some really dinky 10 MW and 20 MW projects online,” he said. “We absolutely wanted to be a first and fast mover and saw a compelling opportunity.”

The reasons for that were two converging macro factors. One was that the battery costs had come down 90% because of EV development. Meanwhile, the demand for batteries required storage to be built out rapidly at scale. So, that inflection point – in addition to the apparent dearth of investor interest in the space at the time – called for early action.

“We were sanctioning the build of these things with no IRA,” Cumberland said.

‘If it works’

To be sure, EnCap is not a technology venture capital firm and waits for technologies to be proven.

As such, the clean fuels sector could end up being a longer play for EnCap, Cumberland noted, but the fund continues to weigh whether there will be a penalty for waiting. In the meantime, regulatory issues like IRS guidance on “additionality” for green hydrogen and the impact of the EU’s rules for renewable fuels of non-biological origin should get resolved.

Still, market timing plays a role, and the EnCap portfolio includes a 2021 investment into Arbor Renewable Gas, which develops and owns facilities that convert woody biomass into low-carbon renewable gasoline and green hydrogen.

Cumberland also pointed to EnCap’s investment in wind developer Triple Oak Power, which is currently for sale via Marathon Capital. That investment was made when many industry players were moving toward solar and dropping attention to wind.

Now, clean fuels are trading at a premium because of investor interest and generous government incentives for the sector, he noted.

“Hydrogen, if it works, may be more like solar,” Cumberland said, describing the hockey-stick growth trajectory of the solar industry over 15 years. If the industry is cost-competitive without subsidies, there will be a flood of project development that requires massive funding and talented management teams

“We won’t be late to the party,” he said.

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EXCLUSIVE: 8 Rivers co-founder departs firm

A co-founder and executive has departed the North Carolina-based firm, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas.

Bill Brown, a co-founder of the technology commercialization firm and clean fuels developer 8 Rivers Capital, has retired from the company, a spokesperson confirmed via email.
According to Brown’s LinkedIn profile, he is serving now as CEO of New Waters Capital. He co-founded 8 Rivers and also served as CEO and CTO in this nearly 16 years there.
Brown did not respond to a request for comment.
According to 8 Rivers’ website, Dharmesh Patel is serving as interim CEO. The company recently announced development of the Cormorant Clean Energy ammonia production facility in Port Arthur, Texas
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