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Climeworks and Svante to collaborate on direct air capture development

The companies agreed to collaborate on three major CO2 removal projects in the U.S.

Climeworks has signed a collaboration and supply agreement with Svante Technologies Inc. (Svante), a carbon capture and removal solutions provider, according to a news release.

The companies agreed to jointly plan the supply of Svante’s contactor blocks for three major Climeworks projects, intending to lead to a commercial-scale supply agreement, whereby Climeworks would purchase Svante’s contactor blocks for its planned megaton direct air capturing hubs in the US.

The US Department of Energy selected Climeworks to develop three of these hubs, in Louisiana, California, and North Dakota, making the company eligible for a total of more than $600m in government funding.

The collaboration allows both partners to agree on intermediate goals, and to jointly proceed to the next phase of development. “Delivering large-scale direct air capture required us to approach this collaboration with flexibility on the development of project specifications while retaining rigorous accountability for the success of the overall project,” says Claude Letourneau, President and CEO of Svante. “We’ve been closely collaborating with Climeworks over the past three years, and because of that proximity, we felt comfortable entering into this kind of arrangement. The combination of our advanced technologies represents a significant step forward in the nascent direct air capture industry, playing a critical role in meeting the world’s net-zero ambitions.”

Svante is in the final stages of building its commercial filter manufacturing facility, The Centre of Excellence for Carbon Capture and Removal, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The Centre is equipped to supply both the industrial point source post-combustion carbon capture market and the direct air capture market. Svante has anticipated and prepared for the event where the agreement with Climeworks takes up a significant portion of the Centre’s capacity and has secured additional coating capacity with its partner, 3M.

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GE Gas demonstrating hydrogen co-firing with Indian power utility

NTPC will provide the H2 required for the project.

GE Gas Power and Indian power utility NTPC will explore hydrogen co-firing blended with natural gas in GE’s 9E gas turbine installed at NTPC’s Kawas gas power plant in Gujarat, India,  according to a press release.

The 645 MW gas power plant is powered by four GE 9E gas turbines operating in a combined-cycle mode. NTPC will provide the H2 required for the project.

GE’s E- Class gas turbine portfolio currently has the capability to burn up to 100% by volume of hydrogen when blended with natural gas. This capability varies depending on the type of combustion system used. For fuels with over 5% hydrogen by volume, gas turbine accessories need to be evaluated and possibly modified to reliably deliver the fuel to the combustors.

“NTPC, with a large fleet of power generation facilities delivering more than 70 GW across India, has been at the forefront when it comes to piloting new hydrogen-related initiatives,” Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya, Director (Projects) at NTPC, said in the release. “NTPC is committed to playing a key role in India’s energy transition journey as the country marches ahead to achieve net-zero target and climate goals.”

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KBR awarded tech contract for Texas blue ammonia plant

KBR has been awarded a technology contract by Tecnimont S.p.A. for OCI NV’s low-carbon blue ammonia project in Texas.

KBR has been awarded a technology contract by Tecnimont S.p.A. for Holland-based OCI NV’s low-carbon blue ammonia project in Texas, according to a news release.

Under the terms of the contract, KBR will supply the technology license, basic engineering design, proprietary equipment and catalyst for the 1.1 million ton per annum blue ammonia plant. Targeting completion by 2025, the project will be designed to transition from blue to green ammonia production as green hydrogen becomes available at larger scale in the future.

KBR, based in Houston, has licensed and designed 252 grassroots ammonia plants since 1944. Around half of global licensed ammonia capacity uses KBR-designed plants.

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US DOE awards $118m for sustainable biofuels projects

The US Department of Energy has awarded $118m in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for transportation and manufacturing needs.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $118m in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for America’s transportation and manufacturing needs, according to a news release.

The selected projects, located at universities and private companies, will drive the domestic production of biofuels and bioproducts by advancing biorefinery development, from pre-pilot to demonstration, to create sustainable fuels that reduce emissions associated with fossil fuels, the release states.

Projects selected as part of this funding opportunity will contribute to meeting DOE’s goal to achieve cost-competitive biofuels and at least a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

Made from widely available domestic feedstocks and advanced refining technologies, energy-dense biofuels provide a pathway for low-carbon fuels that can lower greenhouse gas emissions throughout the transportation sector and accelerate the bioeconomy. Financing for novel biorefinery process systems can be a barrier to commercializing advanced biofuels, and this funding will reduce technological uncertainties and enable industry deployment.

The selected projects include pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration projects that will scale-up existing biomass to fuel technologies that will eventually create millions of gallons of low-carbon fuel annually. By investing in these technologies, the projects will create good-paying jobs in rural and underserved communities in nine states. Plans submitted by the selected projects show intent to collaborate with local school districts to educate and train the bioenergy workforce of tomorrow.  Additionally, the funded projects align with renewable fuels goals in the first-ever U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, a multi-agency framework for reducing emissions, creating a robust transportation workforce, and securing America’s energy independence. The projects also support the U.S. Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge goal of enabling the production of three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel annually by 2030 and 35 billion gallons annually by 2050.

The 17 selected projects fall into four areas:

  1. Pre-Pilot Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries,
  2. Pilot Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries,
  3. Demonstration Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries, and
  4. Gen-1 Corn Ethanol Emission Reduction.

The selected projects are located in nine states and Washington, DC, and focus on technologies including anaerobic digestion, conversion of cellulosic sugars to SAF, catalytic biorefining, among others.

The following projects were selected:

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US gas compression firm raising $432m

A Houston-based CNG company is raising money to develop a virtual marine pipeline between the US Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.

Andalusian Energy, a natural gas compression, export and transportation company, is undergoing a $432m capital raise to develop and build a compression and filling station in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and export line to Honduras, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Whitehall & Co. is advising on the transaction, the sources said. Capital allocation will also support the purchase of CNG containers and destination port improvements in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Targeted initial equity is $168m, or 40%, according to a teaser seen by The Hydrogen Source. Targeted COD of the project is 2H25.

Gross-cumulative investment could exceed $2bn. The phase I estimated project cost of approximately $421m is expected to be split 40% to permanent equity capital ($168m) and 60% to structured debt ($253m).

Andalusian uses lightweight composite cylinders to ship compressed natural gas (CNG) at ambient temperature to the Caribbean, Central America and eastern Mexico. Marketing materials state the process is lower cost than shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The company has installed a demonstration facility in Choloma, Honduras to import natural gas from CNG.

The Louisiana compression facility will be constructed with two adjacent docks and a site with utility connections. Natural gas will be supplied using a combination of regional pipeline networks including Southern Natural Gas pipeline and High Point Gas Transmission Pipeline. An agreement has been reached to provide interconnection and construction of a 1.5 mile lateral.

Andalusian completed its development capital raise with a strategic investment by MAN Energy Solutions USA, a division of Volkswagen AG, and equity investments by HBG, Progressive Energy and Grupo IDC.

Additional marine engineering, consulting, and ship classification services are being provided by DNV GL and confirmed by the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

Additionally, to monetize spare ship capacity and based on a contract to deliver CNG to an IPP in Honduras, Andalusian has reached an agreement with a global shipping company to transport commercial container cargo between Louisiana and Honduras, the teaser states.

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Exclusive: Verde Clean Fuels seeking project finance for gas refineries

Publicly listed Verde Clean Fuels plans to seek equity and debt investors for low-carbon gasoline refineries it expects to deploy across the US. We spoke to CEO Ernest Miller about the strategy.

Verde Clean Fuels, a publicly listed developer of clean fuels technology and projects, is planning to seek project debt and equity investors to finance a series of low-carbon gasoline refineries it expects to deploy across the US.

Houston-based Verde, which employs syngas-to-gasoline refining technology, recently announced an agreement with Diamondback Energy to construct a facility in the Permian Basin that will utilize stranded natural gas to produce 3,000 barrels per day of gasoline.

The company is also pursuing a carbon-negative gasoline project on the premises of California Resources’ Net Zero Industrial Park in Bakersfield, California. The California project will produce approximately 500 barrels of RBOB renewable gasoline per day from agricultural waste, while capturing and sequestering around 125,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Verde is capitalized following a private investment in public equity (PIPE) injection of $54m as part of a reverse merger last year, allowing the company to take the Bakersfield and West Texas projects through the FEED phase, CEO Ernest Miller said in an interview.

Underpinning Verde’s business model is the view that gasoline will persist as a transportation fuel for many years to come, and that very few parties are working to decarbonize the gasoline supply chain.

“Between renewable diesel, renewable natural gas, and sustainable aviation fuel, there is very little awareness that renewable gasoline is even a thing,” Miller said. “The addressable market is enormous, and the impact that can be made by taking even a sliver of that market is enormous.”

Miller says that many market participants believe that electric vehicles will solve the emissions problem from road transport.

“The fact is that gasoline has a very, very long runway ahead of it,” he said. “Regardless of the assumptions you want to make about EV penetration, the volume of gasoline that we continue to use for the foreseeable future is huge.”

Verde Clean Fuels demo plant.

Verde’s projects are sized in the 500 – 3,000 barrels per day range, making them a unique player at the smaller end of the production range. The only other companies with similar methanol-to-gas technology are ExxonMobil and Danish-based Topsoe, which operate at a much larger scale, according to Miller.

Miller recognizes that low-carbon, or negative-carbon, gasoline operates within a complex ecosystem, with the California project potentially playing in that state’s LCFS and D3 RIN markets, in addition to the market for gasoline.

“What I would like to see us do is have an offtaker that plays in all three of those products – so if I can go to Shell Trading, or bp, or Vitol, and get one of them to say, ‘here’s a price,’ and they take all of that exposure and optionality,” Miller said, “that allows me to finance the project without having to manage a whole bunch of different commodity exposures and risk.”

Bakersfield 

The Bakersfield project, estimated to cost $235m to build, will utilize 450 tons per day of agricultural waste to produce gasoline, and sequester CO2 via California Resources’ carbon management company, Carbon TerraVault, a joint venture with Brookfield Renewable.

Because of the carbon sequestration, the project will qualify for incentives under 45Q, but since it is producing, in Miller’s words, “deeply carbon-negative gasoline,” most of the value for the project will come from California’s LCFS program.

In order to qualify for LCFS credits, the Bakersfield facility goes through the full GREET modeling process – including transport of feedstock, processing and refining, and transport away from the facility – returning a negative 125 grams equivalent per MJ carbon intensity score for the project, according to Miller.

As for investors, Verde “would like to see both California Resources and Brookfield Renewable in the project, either individually or through the Carbon TerraVault JV,” Miller said.

Verde is also in discussions with a handful of financial players, including infrastructure and pension funds that are looking for bond-like cash flow that a project finance model can provide. The company has also explored the municipal bond market in California, which would bring to bear a favorable capital structure for the project, Miller said.

Verde is not currently working with a project finance advisor, Miller said, noting that they have in-house project finance experience. In Texas, Verde is working with Vinson & Elkins as its law firm; and in California Verde is working with Orrick as counsel.

Gasoline runway

For the Diamondback facility in West Texas, which requires roughly $325m of capex, both Verde and Diamondback will take equity stakes in the project, and Verde will seek to bring in debt financing to fund the rest of the project costs in a non-recourse project finance deal, Miller said.

The Permian project seeks to provide a pathway to monetize stranded gas in the basin by taking advantage of and alleviating its lack of takeaway capacity, which causes gas prices at the Waha Hub in West Texas to trade at a significant discount to the Henry Hub price.

“Diamondback would take the position that any gas that’s getting consumed in the Permian Basin is gas that’s not getting flared in the Permian Basin,” Miller said, thus making the project a emissions-mitigating option. “There will never be enough natural gas takeaway capacity out of the Permian Basin,” he added, noting that driller profiles are only going to get gassier as time goes on.

Diamondback, for example, produces more in the Permian than it can take out via pipeline, therefore “finding a use, a different exposure, for that gas by turning it into gasoline, is of value for them,” Miller said.

“It’s the same dynamic in the Marcellus and Bakken and Uinta – all the pipeline-constrained basins,” he added, alluding to possible future expansion to those basins.

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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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