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Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners acquires majority stake in Gulf Coast blue ammonia project

The project has commenced detailed engineering and will initially consist of two phases, each with a production capacity of 4,000 tons per day once operational in 2027.

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, through its Energy Transition Fund (CI ETF I), has acquired a majority stake in a blue ammonia project, which will be developed alongside U.S.-based Sustainable Fuels Group (SFG), according to a news release.

The financial terms of the transaction are not disclosed.

The project has entered into an agreement with International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT), a terminaling and logistics company, to provide ammonia storage and handling services. Located along the Gulf Coast, the project has commenced detailed engineering (FEED) and will initially consist of two phases, each with a production capacity of 4,000 tons per day (~3.0 million tons of annual production from both phases) once operational in 2027.

Blue ammonia is a low-carbon approach to ammonia production which combines traditional ammonia synthesis using natural gas with subsequent carbon capture and storage process. The project will use Topsoe’s industry leading SynCOR™ technology to produce blue ammonia with the lowest carbon intensity and is expected to reduce CO2e emissions by 90% (Well-To-Gate) compared to traditional ammonia production, thereby abating 5.0 million tons of CO2 per year.

The project will form part of the CI Energy Transition Fund, which closed in August 2022 at the hard cap of EUR 3.0bn, and like all current CIP Funds, is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) principally through the expected avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its investments.

The CI Energy Transition Fund focuses on clean hydrogen, and other next generation renewable technologies to facilitate the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors such as agriculture and transportation.

Søren Toftgaard, partner in Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said of the acquisition: “We are developing a global portfolio of clean hydrogen and hydrogen-related products, such as clean ammonia. Blue ammonia is considered an important part of a successful energy transition, which can potentially help fill the ammonia shortage in Europe as well as being a steppingstone to the successful implementation of green projects, and we are excited to bring this project to the Gulf Coast region. Further, the agreement provides important diversification to our CI ETF I portfolio and can provide a platform for future hydrogen-related investments in the U.S.”

“IMTT is thrilled to support CIP’s development of this alternative fuels project,” said Chris Partridge, executive vice president of IMTT. “Additional clean energy sources, such as blue ammonia, are vital to advancing the global energy transition. We look forward to leveraging our terminaling experience and expertise to assist CIP in delivering this low-carbon fuel to the market.”

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Air Products, Aramco, ACWA Power reach financial close on $12bn gasification and power JV

Air Products announced financial close and the transfer of the second group of assets for the $12bn JV in Saudi Arabia.

Air Products today announced financial close and transfer of the second group of assets for the $12bn gasification and power joint venture (JV) with Aramco, ACWA Power and Air Products Qudra in the Jazan Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

The JV’s purchase of this second group of assets at Jazan follows the successful asset acquisition and project financing transactions for the first group of assets completed in late October 2021. Some minor final commissioning items are expected to be completed later this calendar year.

Seifi Ghasemi, chairman, president and CEO of Air Products, said, “We are very proud to mark the close on the second group of assets at Jazan, a world-scale project that is a perfect fit with our growth strategy and which supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Consistent with our commitment, this will deliver significant contributions to our earnings going forward.”

Approximately 40 percent of the JV’s capital structure consists of member contributions, and the remaining 60 percent consists of non-recourse project financing.

The JV has purchased ASU, gasification, syngas cleanup, utilities and power assets from Aramco. The JV owns and operates the facility under a 25-year contract for a fixed monthly fee, with Aramco supplying feedstock to the JV, and the JV producing power, steam, hydrogen and other utilities for Aramco.

Aramco, via its subsidiary Saudi Aramco Power Company, has a 20 percent share in the JV; Air Products 46 percent; ACWA Power 25 percent; and Air Products Qudra (a 51/49 JV between Air Products and Qudra Energy) nine percent in the JV. Air Products’ total ownership position is 50.6 percent through 46 percent direct ownership and 4.6 percent through Air Products Qudra.

The JV serves Aramco’s Jazan Refinery, a megaproject to process 400,000 barrels per day of the crude oil to produce main products such as ultra-light sulfur diesel, gasoline, and other products.

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Tidewater receives additional funding to complete renewable diesel and hydrogen complex

The Canadian fuels producer had experienced cost overruns in the final stages of the project.

Tidewater Renewables Ltd. initial unit commissioning at its Renewable Diesel (HDRD) Complex and its financing solution to support the completion and start-up of the HDRD facility, according to a news release.

Following the previously announced capital cost increase, the corporation has significantly enhanced its funding capacity.  Tidewater Renewables is in discussion with its lenders to seek consents for increases to its lending facilities.  It has also received additional government support, in the form of an issuance of credits that will result in cash proceeds of $43m.

Tidewater executives had previously blamed the cost overruns on the lack of exotic components needed to complete the project, adding on the company’s most recent earnings call that more up-front engineering should have been done to avoid cost increases.

The HDRD Complex continues to progress on schedule and with no change to the previously announced gross capital cost estimate of $342m. Construction is currently estimated to be 93% complete with the last major piece of equipment now on site.  Construction operations commissioning has begun on several units with final completion and start-up expected to begin within two months. The HDRD project continues to be a leader in safety performance with zero loss time injuries throughout the life of the project to date.

To support the HDRD project, Tidewater Renewables has recently entered into firm credit sales agreements that will result in $43m of proceeds net to the corporation.  Proceeds from the credit sales and the anticipated expansion of its lending facilities will primarily be employed to offset the previously disclosed capital cost increases at the Corporation’s HDRD Complex. Tidewater Renewables believes its enhanced liquidity will sufficiently fund the HDRD project through start-up while providing significant additional flexibility.

“The support from government and our current capital providers has been fundamental to the ongoing advancement and success of our HDRD Complex, which will become Canada’s first Renewable Diesel facility. This project will provide significant value to our stakeholders while reducing the carbon intensity of fuels used in British Columbia and Canada” said Rob Colcleugh, Chairman and Interim CEO.

HDRD Complex Update

  • HDRD Complex construction is progressing as forecast and is 93% complete.
  • All major equipment for the HDRD Complex is now on site and set.
  • The majority of the dry commissioning of the utility packages is complete.
  • The tank farm and rail systems are now ready for operation.
  • Target start-up is expected within two months.
  • Operating at its design capacity, the HDRD Complex is expected to generate annualized run rate EBITDA of between $90 – 115m.
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Certarus to supply Michigan gas plant with hydrogen

Over a two-week test, Certarus’ mobile energy distribution platform supplied 1,000+ kilograms of hydrogen at blend rates up to 25%.

Certarus, the Calgary-based on-road low carbon energy solutions, has been selected by WEC Energy Group to supply hydrogen and blending equipment to the A.J. Mihm natural gas-fired power plant near Pelkie, Michigan, according to a press release.

WEC is joined by partners Wärtsilä Corp., Mostardi Platt, the Electric Power Research Institute, and EPC firm Burns & McDonnell.

Over the course of a two-week test, Certarus’ mobile energy distribution platform successfully supplied more than 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen at blend rates up to 25% in an 18 MW Wärtsilä natural gas engine.

During that test, the hydrogen blend generated efficient power to support full engine capacity and produced fewer carbon dioxide and methane emissions compared to natural gas.

EPRI supported the development of the project and led the technical implementation. That company will share a complete analysis of the project in early 2023.

Certarus has supported more than 20 hydrogen customers to date.

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Biomass technology company launching US projects

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing technology to convert woody biomass into clean fuels.

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing new technology to process woody biomass into an intermediate product that can be further refined into clean fuels.

The company, traditionally a miner focused on gold and silver mining in Nevada, has been transformed into a technology innovator seeking to build, own, and operate a portfolio of carbon neutral extraction and refining facilities in the US, CEO Corrado De Gasperis said in an interview.

“We’re finalizing all of our documentation on readiness and engineering, and then we’ll be working to select an EPC, and then we’ll be ready to bond and finance,” he said.

Comstock, which trades on the NYSE, is currently engaged in the process of securing access to feedstock, and has mapped out nine regions in the U.S. which, combined, produce between 85 – 100 million tons of woody biomass residuals per year.

In parallel, the company is seeking to incentivize growth of trees like hybrid poplar that can be used as feedstock in the future, De Gasperis said. “We’re going to be building the backend of the supply chain with a feedstock strategy, accessing existing residuals, and then building these facilities,” he added.

In Minnesota, for example, there are around 300 sawmills with no place to send their sawdust and excess woodchips following the closure of several wood-to-energy plants, said David Winsness, a president at Comstock.

“Those are the materials that shouldn’t be sitting there – we should be converting them into fuel,” Winsness said.

Building plants

The company has set an objective to generate “billions” in revenue by 2030 – something it would achieve largely through building and operating the woody biomass plants near where the feedstock is located. Comstock also sells related services and licenses selected technologies to strategic partners.

Using simple math, Comstock could achieve its revenue goal by building and operating 10 facilities that produce approximately 1 million tons of clean fuels per year.

A plant producing 1 million tons per year would require capex of between $600m – $750m to build, and would likely be constructed using a project finance funding model, De Gasperis said. The company has not yet selected a financial advisor.

De Gasperis believes large refiners will want to co-build the facilities along with Comstock – which could also entail a strategic equity investment from the selected refiner and lead to a faster construction process.

“Speed and throughput is the goal,” he said, noting that the company has been engaged with roughly 12 of the large clean fuels refiners on a potential partnership. “The faster we’re producing these carbon-neutral gallons, the faster we’re decarbonizing, and the faster we’re making money.”

The company has private equity funds and infrastructure funds on their radar as potential investors but has not engaged with them yet.

The other half

Comstock’s technological breakthrough comes in its ability to produce a biointermediary – called bioleum – from a part of the woody biomass that is not cellulose, and which can be used to produce drop-in fuels. (Importantly, under new EPA rules implemented in June 2022, biointermediaries such as bioleum can be sold on to refiners, whereas previous rules required co-location with the refineries.)

“Cellulose only counts for 50% of a tree,” said Winsness. “For every gallon of fuel generated from cellulose, we’re getting another gallon from the byproduct. It’s a huge change for the industry to be able to get that much more throughput from the same amount of biomass.”

The Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity for projects that can produce more than 60 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood feedstock, De Gasperis said.

“We saw that and we said, ‘We’re already there. We can do much more,’” he added.

Comstock can currently produce about 70 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood, using cellulose. Meanwhile, with the non-cellulose half of the wood in 1 ton of feedstock, the technology can produce an additional 30 – 40 gallons of renewable diesel or aviation fuel.

The company has partnered on a process to convert ethanol to drop-in fuel, with the ultimate goal of producing 100 gallons of drop-in fuels from 1 ton of wood feedstock, according to De Gasperis. “All of our development is to stabilize the breakthrough we had on the bioleum – the heavy cellulose components of the wood is where our technology breaks through and shatters this.”

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CO2-to-SAF firm in $100m capital raise

A New York-based CO2-to-SAF firm is raising about $100m in equity and debt.

Dimensional Energy, the CO2-to-SAF startup based in Ithaca, New York, is in the late stages of a roughly $100m equity and debt round led internally, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The company is down to a shortlist of potential investors with two or three weeks until targeted close, the source said.

Dimensional did not respond to a request for comment.

Proprietary reactor technology powered by renewables is the core of Dimension’s regenerative process. According to its website, the company can make 15 barrels of fuel from every 10 tons of carbon sources form the atmosphere and hydrogen derived form electrolysis.

In May, the company signed an offtake agreement for 5 million gallons per year with Boom Supersonic, which is seeking to build a supersonic airliner that will travel at speeds twice as fast as today’s commercial jets.

Dimensional started production at a pilot-scale COutilization plant in Tucson, Arizona last year.

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DG Fuels charting path to be SAF powerhouse

The company has retained advisors and is mapping out a plan to build as many as 50 production facilities in North America for a “gigantic” sustainable aviation fuel market.

DG Fuels is charting a plan to build a proprietary network of 30 to 50 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facilities in North America, CEO Michael Darcy said in an interview.

The Washington, D.C.-based company will pursue a combination of debt and equity on a case-by-case basis to fund the projects, Darcy explained, with financings underway now for the firm’s initial project in Louisiana and a second facility in Maine. The Louisiana facility recently inked a USD 4bn offtake agreement with an undisclosed investment grade industrial buyer.

The company is working with Guggenheim and Stephens as financial advisors, Darcy said. About 60 people hold equity in the company; Darcy and the founding team hold a majority stake.

In the coming months DG Fuels will likely make announcements about more SAF plants in the US and British Columbia, Darcy said. Site negotiations are underway and each project is its own subsidiary of the parent company.

“There’s clearly a good return of what we refer to as the ‘project level,’ and then we have the parent company,” Darcy said. “We have strategic investment at the parent and now we’re looking at strategic investment at the project level.”

Huge demand, low supply

DG Fuels produces SAF from cellulosic biomass feedstock, a technology that does not need sequestration of CO2 because natural gas is not used.

“We like to say it’s the corn cob, not the corn,” Darcy said. The company can also use timber waste, waxes, and renewable power as an important source of energy.

The company gets about 4.5 barrels of SAF for every ton of biomass feedstock, which is roughly three to four times the industry average, Darcy said.

“Practical scale” for a facility is 12,000 to 15,000 barrels a day, Darcy said. That’s big enough to be commercialized without stressing the electrical grid with power demand.

Despite the company’s advantages, there is “plenty of room” for other producers to come into the SAF space, Darcy said.

“Right now, the market for SAF is gigantic and the supply is minimal,” Darcy said. “Companies like us are able to pick and choose high-quality offtakers.”

DG Fuels includes Delta Airlines, Air France and General Electric as committed offtakers.

Multi-tasking

DG Fuels is “always engaged in some level of capital raise for construction of facilities and detailed engineering,” Darcy said. “There’s always more engineering to be done.”

Some of the financing has already been completed, but Darcy declined to go into additional detail. After Louisiana, the company will quickly follow up with Maine.

HydrogenPro AS recently announced that it would join Black & Veatch and Energy Vault in financing the remaining capital requirements of DG Fuels’ project in Louisiana, which is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

Most of the engineering work in Louisiana is transferable to the company’s project in Maine. Darcy likened the facilities’ build-out to a class of ships: once the first is completed, the second and third can be built almost concurrently.

“There will be a point where we won’t be building one at a time,” Darcy said.

The opportunity for funders to participate is broad in the SAF space, Darcy said. There is a crossover of good economics and ESG, so strategics, industrials, private equity and other pure financial players can all be involved.

The broad base of capital eager to participate in companies that are innovative — but not too innovative as to scare investors — is indicative of the industry’s ability to secure offtakers and feedstock.

Storing power

It’s one thing to acknowledge the need for reduction of carbon, but hard work is required ahead, Darcy said.

“The low-hanging fruit has been done,” he said of the renewables industry. “Now it’s not really about the power, it’s about the storage of power.”

DG Fuels is an offtaker of non-peak renewable power to displace fossil fuel energy. But baseload renewable power is becoming available almost anywhere.

The Maine project will use stranded hydroelectric power, Louisiana will use solar, and projects in the Midwest will use wind, Darcy said. Additionally, geothermal power is “starting to become a very real opportunity,” he added.

Deploying broadly with renewable power gets past the issues of variability of renewable power at a reasonable cost, he said.

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