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Corpus Christi city council approves seawater desalination project

The Corpus Christi city council has approved a 30-million-gallons-per-day seawater desalination facility that will support the growth of water-intensive industries, like hydrogen and ammonia production, in the drought-prone region.

Corpus Christi city council members voted to approve a seawater desalination plant that will be a critical source of water for the growing clean fuels industry in the region.

The city, which has been in a drought officially since June, 2022, has been developing the Inner Harbor Desalination Plant for roughly 10 years as a solution for persistent water shortages.

The proposed plant would remove 83 million gallons of seawater per day from Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor, strip out the salt, and produce 30 million gallons of freshwater per day for use in the area. Additionally, the facility would discharge up to 68 million gallons of concentrated saltwater (brine) per day into Corpus Christi bay.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued the City of Corpus Christi a draft wastewater discharge permit for the plant earlier this year. 

Many clean fuels developers, including Avina, Monarch and Pattern, have planned facilities in the Corpus Christi area.

The city council was voting on a number of items related to the project, including to make an abridged and full application to the Texas Water Development Board for up to $535.1m of funding to complete the project.

The majority of local residents who spoke out at the meeting expressed opposition to the project, citing its cost, the potential contamination of Corpus Christi bay, and its siting in the Hillcrest neighborhood, which is historically Black, among other reasons.

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Sumitomo invests in Colorado direct air capture company

Sumitomo’s investment in Global Thermostat includes a commercial partnership to develop projects in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia markets.

Sumitomo Corporation, through the Group’s U.S.-based Presidio Ventures, Inc., has announced its investment in Global Thermostat, PBC, a U.S.-based company that develops and deploys a leading technology for directly capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a news release.

In conjunction with the investment, the companies have signed a letter of intent to develop a new line of global business for carbon capture and sequestration centered around Global Thermostat’s pioneering Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology.

DAC technology directly captures CO2 from the atmosphere and has attracted attention as one of the leading potential solutions for achieving negative emissions on a large scale. When used in combination with underground storage or mineralization solutions, it is likely to have a key role in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Global Thermostat has been developing DAC technology for more than a decade and has been recognized by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as one of the leading international companies developing large-scale DAC technology. In continually advancing its capture system, the firm has developed a proprietary solution consisting of fans which blow air through contactors with customized surface geometry and sorbents to optimize CO2 capture rates and overall cost.

At the end of 2022, Global Thermostat succeeded in putting a commercial-scale DAC facility into operation at its U.S. headquarters in Commerce City, Colorado, with the capacity to capture more than 1,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, one of the largest operating DAC plants ever. It is now expanding its operations globally.By combining Sumitomo Corporation’s global network and Global Thermostat’s leading DAC technology, the two companies will jointly identify and develop business opportunities in Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), including both underground storage and mineralization, in the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Asia markets.

The capturing and sequestration of atmospheric carbon is widely recognized as essential to keeping the global temperature rise below the 1.5 degree target. Together, Sumitomo and Global Thermostat aspire to establish a complete economic system that will provide a foundation for the widespread, global implementation of Direct Air Capture.

In developing the carbon capture value chain, Sumitomo Corporation and Global Thermostat will also explore opportunities in the production of e-fuels, produced by synthesizing CO2 and hydrogen.

“We are excited to be Sumitomo’s technology partner as we pursue our goal of a carbon-neutral economy. Our proven and fundamentally advantaged technology will enable the cost-effective and efficient capturing of atmospheric CO2 for sequestration or commercial uses,” said Paul Nahi, CEO of Global Thermostat.

Shinichi “Sandro” Hasegawa, Head of Energy Innovation Initiative America for Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, commented, “We are pleased to sign a letter of intent for a commercial partnership with Global Thermostat. We believe that DAC is one of the most important technologies for addressing climate change and the realization of a carbon-neutral society.

“Through our collaboration with Global Thermostat, we will promote and realize carbon dioxide removal from ambient air through Direct Air Capture with Carbon Storage, as well as focus on synthetic fuel production based on the captured CO2,” said Hasegawa.

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SunHydrogen receives $45m capital commitment

The California-based company will use proceeds for further development of its nanoparticle-based green hydrogen technology, and also enable investments in and co-development of other complementary technologies.

SunHydrogen, Inc., the developer of a technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and water, has received a $45m investment commitment from GHS Investments, LLC, of Jericho, New York, according to a press release.

The proceeds will be used in part to further the development of SunHydrogen’s nanoparticle-based green hydrogen technology, and in parallel to enable the company to invest in and co-develop other complementary technologies across the renewable hydrogen value chain.

The company remains committed to developing its nanoparticle technology to commercialization, with its most immediate internal goal being the successful demonstration of a first-ever, production-quality prototype.

However, with the addition of the capital commitment, SunHydrogen also looks to realize its goal of furthering renewable hydrogen technology to grow the hydrogen ecosystem. Specifically, SunHydrogen seeks to make strategic investments by partnering with other early-stage companies to enable and assist them in reaching their own manufacturing stages.

This vision is evidenced by SunHydrogen’s recent $10m strategic investment in Norway-based TECO 2030, the developer of zero-emission technology for the maritime and heavy industry sectors.

“This investment commitment from GHS ushers in a new era of SunHydrogen as a technology company for the green hydrogen economy,” said SunHydrogen’s CEO Tim Young.

“Our mission to develop, acquire and partner with other critical technologies brings significant value to our investor base,” Mr. Young continued. “Our cooperation with TECO 2030 is a prime example of this.”

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California DAC firm secures $80m funding and strategic partnerships

The company will use the capital to deliver commercial-ready hybrid direct air capture units by the end of 2025.

Avnos, Inc., the Los Angeles-based company developing Hybrid Direct Air Capture (HDAC™) technology for carbon dioxide removal, has signed multi-year strategic and investment partnerships, in excess of $80m in aggregate.

Investors include ConocoPhillips, JetBlue Ventures, the corporate venture capital division of JetBlue, and Shell Ventures LLC, the US corporate venture capital arm of Shell plc.

Avnos will use the capital to deliver commercial-ready HDAC units by the end of 2025, according to a news release.

Avnos’ proprietary HDAC technology is the only carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solution that captures both CO2 and water from the atmosphere in a single system. While many other forms of Direct Air Capture (DAC) consume several tons of water per ton of CO2 captured, Avnos produces five to ten tons of water for every ton of CO2 captured. This innovative HDAC approach employs the captured water to drive a novel moisture-responsive CO2 adsorbent material, which eliminates the need for heat, thus reducing the system’s energy consumption. As a result, the Avnos solution requires less than half the energy required by competitors.

“Avnos is laser focused on delivering the most cost-effective, flexible, and scalable commercial Direct Air Capture technology in the world,” said Will Kain, CEO of Avnos. “Adding blue-chip strategic partners such as ConocoPhillips, JetBlue Ventures, and Shell provides us with an incredible opportunity to access more resources, know-how, and global reach to meaningfully accelerate our deployment schedule. Ultimately, we will be able to remove more atmospheric carbon, faster, and at lower costs than we would have been able to on our own. This is a very exciting announcement at a very exciting time for our company.”

Global carbon dioxide emissions rose to their highest-ever level in 2021, with this trend expected to continue unless significant decarbonization plans are put in place. Nearly all climate and energy models indicate the need for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology to grow to billions of tons of annual capacity to make a significant impact on reducing emissions.

“ConocoPhillips is pleased to support Avnos as they develop a promising technology that captures carbon and produces water,” said Warwick King, vice president Low Carbon Technologies at ConocoPhillips. “Investing in this promising Hybrid Direct Air Capture technology aligns with our company’s commitment to finding innovative solutions that reduce carbon emissions crucial to enable an orderly energy transition.”

“JetBlue Ventures is thrilled to support Avnos and the development of their technology that not only captures CO2 at impressively low cost but also generates meaningful amounts of water in the process and could play an important role in e-fuels production. The caliber of the technology, team and partners around Avnos is top tier, and we’re glad to be on board,” said Jim Lockheed, investment principal at JetBlue Ventures.”

“We are pleased to invest in Avnos as they work to further solutions for carbon capture technology,” said Brian Panoff, president, Shell Ventures LLC. “Of particular interest is the potential of Avnos’ technology to reduce energy demand in capturing CO2 and its ability to produce water.”

Previously, Avnos has been awarded multi-million-dollar projects from the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate its HDAC solution in the field, and the U.S. Office of Naval Research to pilot CO2 capture and e-fuels production.

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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: OCI Global exploring ammonia and methanol asset sales

Global ammonia and methanol producer OCI Global is working with an investment bank to explore a sale of ammonia and methanol assets as part of the re-opening of its strategic business review.

OCI Global is evaluating a sale of several ammonia and methanol assets as part of the re-opening of its strategic business review.

The global producer and distributor of methanol and ammonia is working with Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of its ammonia production facility in Beaumont, Texas, as well as the co-located blue ammonia project under development, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The evaluation also includes OCI’s methanol business, one of the sources said.

Representatives of OCI and Morgan Stanley did not respond to requests for comment.

As part of the earlier strategic review announced last year, OCI in December announced the divestiture of its 50% stake in Fertiglobe to ADNOC, and the sale of its Iowa Fertilizer Company to Koch Industries, bringing in $6.2bn in total net proceeds.

However, OCI has received additional inbound inquiries from potential acquirers for the remaining business, leading it to re-open the review, CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy said last month on OCI’s 4Q23 earnings call.

“As such, OCI is exploring further value creative strategic actions across the portfolio, including the previously announced equity participation in its Texas blue clean ammonia project,” he said, adding: “All options are on the table.”

The comments echoed the remarks of Nassef Sawiris, a 40% shareholder of OCI, who recently told the Financial Times that OCI could sell off most of its assets and become a shell for acquisitions.

In the earnings presentation, El-Hoshy took time to lay out the remaining pieces of the business: in particular, OCI’s 350 ktpa ammonia facility in Beaumont; OCI Methanol Group, encompassing 2 million tons of production capacity in the US and a shuttered Dutch methanol plant; and its European ammonia/nitrogen assets.

Texas blue

The Texas blue ammonia project is a 1.1 million-tons-per-year facility that OCI touts as the only greenfield blue ammonia project to reach FID to date. The company has invested $500m in the project as of February 24, out of a total $1bn expected investment, according to a presentation.

“Commercial discussions for long-term product offtake and equity investments in the project are at advanced stages with multiple parties,” El-Hoshy said. “This reflects the very strong commercial interest and increasing appetite from the strategics to pay a price premium to secure long-term low-carbon ammonia.”

El-Hoshy’s comments highlight the fact that, unlike most projects in development, OCI took FID on the Texas blue facility without an offtake agreement in place. The executive did, however, highlight the first-mover cost advantages from breaking ground on the project early and avoiding construction cost inflation.

Additionally, the project was designed to accommodate a second 1.1 mtpa blue ammonia production line, which would be easier to build given existing utilities and infrastructure, El-Hoshy said, allowing for an opportunity to capitalize on additional clean ammonia demand at low development costs.

“Line 2 probably has the biggest advantage, we think, in North America in terms of building a plant where a lot of the existing outside the battery limits items and utilities are already in place,” he said, emphasizing that by moving early on the first phase, they avoided some of the inflationary EPC pressures of recent years. 

At the facility OCI will buy clean hydrogen and nitrogen over the fence from Linde, and Linde, in turn, will capture and sequester CO2 via an agreement with ExxonMobil.

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Mitsubishi laying groundwork for additional equity raise

Mitsubishi Power Americas and its JV partners are preparing to raise additional equity for the ACES Delta project in Utah, as well as for other hydrogen developments in the Americas.

Mitsubishi Power Americas is conferring with its financial partners to raise equity from existing investors in the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) Delta green hydrogen project in Utah, Senior Vice President, Investment and Business Development Ricky Sakai said in an interview.

Haddington Ventures formed Haddington ESP I and raised $650m in June 2022 from institutional investors to fund projects developed by ACES Delta, which is a joint venture between Mitsubishi Power Americas and Haddington portfolio company Magnum Development.

The investors — AIMCo, GIC, Manulife Financial Corporation, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board — have additional rights to increase their collective investment to $1.5bn, according to a press release announcing the deal.

The first phase of the project in Utah will be to produce 100 tons of hydrogen per day. Once that is complete, existing investors can scale up their investment, Sakai said.

ACES Delta rendering

Mitsubishi is involved in several regional hydrogen hubs applying for funding from the US Department of Energy.

Hydrogen capable

Depending on how that $7bn is ultimately allocated, Mitsubishi is interested in replicating the Utah project in other regions, a source familiar with the company said.

MPA and Magnum recently closed on a $504.4m loan guarantee from the DOE for ACES Delta, electrolyzers for which will be supplied by Norway-based HydrogenPro.

ACES Delta will support the Intermountain Power Agency’s IPP Renewed Project — upgrading to an 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant using Mitsubishi’s M501JAC gas turbines. The plant will initially run on a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas starting in 2025 and incrementally expand to 100% green hydrogen by 2045.

Mitsubishi is also supplying the hydrogen-capable gas turbines to Entergy’s Orange County Advanced Power Station; to an Alberta coal plant owned by Capital Power; and to J-Power’s Jackson Generation Project in Illinois, which reached commercial operations last year.

Mitsubishi Power

Investing in startups

Mitsubishi is doubling down on a strategy of investing in startup producers and technology in renewable fuels, Sakai said.

Recent investments in the space include: C-Zero, a drop-in decarbonization tech startup in California; Cemvita Factory, a Houston-based synthetic biology firm focused on the decarbonization of heavy industries; Infinium, an electrofuels company innovator in California forming decarbonization solutions for industries in Japan; and Starfire Energy, a modular green ammonia solution provider in Denver.

Series A and Series B valuations for US companies are much higher now than they were a few years ago, Sakai said. Still, the US is the leading climate tech startup ecosystem in the world and provides rich opportunity for capital deployment, Sakai said. Biofuels, SAF and waste-to-energy are leading sectors for MHI investment moving forward.

“We have several hundred of these in the pipeline that we are looking at right now,” he said. “In the next few years, we will increase the number of these portfolio companies.”

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