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Drax Group partners for biomass feedstock in Southeast US

The agreement is for up to 1 million green tons per year of woody biomass for bioenergy facilities with carbon capture and storage.

Carbon removals and renewable energy company Drax Group has formed a new partnership with Molpus Woodlands Group (Molpus).

The agreement will provide Drax with an option to purchase sustainably sourced woody biomass to fuel its bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) operations in the US Southeast, according to a news release.

Drax will have the option to take up to 1 million green tons per year of sustainably sourced fiber under a long-term fiber supply agreement. This supply will anchor Drax’s BECCS developments in the region, which will generate renewable baseload power to contribute toward US energy independence while permanently removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“The renewable power produced through BECCS will contribute to a more diverse and resilient US power grid, while supporting hundreds of jobs across the US South, particularly in rural communities,” said Arabella Freeman, Senior Vice President of Biomass Strategy at Drax. “The sustainable fiber secured through this agreement with The Molpus Woodlands Group, a leading US forestry company, takes us one step closer to bringing Drax’s BECCS ambitions to life.”

Sustainably sourced biomass – when paired with carbon capture and storage technology – is the only carbon negative technology that can permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere while simultaneously contributing to the diversity of the power grid. The fiber to be provided through Molpus meets Drax’s high sustainability standards, enabling the production of high-quality carbon dioxide removals (CDR) credits that can be purchased on the voluntary carbon market to help decarbonize other organizations and industries.

Sustainable fiber is sourced from low-grade roundwood including forest thinnings and residues left over from timber harvesting. Low-grade roundwood is not suitable for sawmilling, and BECCS can provide a valuable new market for this forestry byproduct.

This partnership with Molpus represents a key milestone toward Drax realizing its intent to become a global leader in carbon removals through the implementation of BECCS technology, with the goal of capturing 6 million metric tonnes of carbon a year in the US.

Drax’s new and future BECCS projects could also result in hundreds of permanent jobs, with thousands more supported during construction and through the supply chain. Landowners will also be incentivized to practice sustainable forest management to improve the health and resilience of forests for generations to come.

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Capstone Green Energy CEO resigns

The resignation is effective August 22 and the board is initiating a search process to fill the position.

Darren Jamison has resigned as President and CEO of the publicly traded Capstone Green Energy Corporation, according to a news release.

The resignation is effective August 22 and the board is initiating a search process to fill the position.

Robert C. Flexon, Capstone Board Chair, was appointed as Executive Chairman of the board effective August 9, and was also appointed to serve as Interim President and CEO, from the effective date of Mr. Jamison’s resignation until a successor is named.

In connection with Mr. Flexon’s transition to Executive Chairman, Denise M. Wilson was appointed Lead Independent Director of the board. John J. Juric, who joined Capstone as Chief Financial Officer in March 2023, will continue to provide financial leadership for the company.

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8 Rivers opening tech portfolio to Chart Industries

Chart Industries has executed a memorandum of understanding with 8 Rivers Capital evaluate the latter’s portfolio of technologies, according to a news release.

The collaboration includes developing equipment for 8 Rivers’ technologies backed up by Chart’s design and manufacturing capabilities.

”The companies will work together to identify and develop commercial opportunities to integrate Chart offerings into 8 Rivers projects,” the release states.

In March The Hydrogen Source reported that North Carolina-based 8 Rivers was scouting for a location in the US Gulf Coast for its first clean hydrogen production facility and would need to raise capital.

The firm has developed new technologies such as 8RH2, a process to generate hydrogen with full carbon capture, and the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle, a process which helps to generate power from carbon-based fuels without air emissions.

Chart would become one of the suppliers of choice for various liquefaction, refrigeration processes, or liquefaction and refrigeration equipment technologies, cold boxes, heat exchangers, compressors, fans, liquid hydrogen storage tanks and trailers, and other associated equipment needed to implement 8 Rivers’ technologies.

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EU-backed Neev Fund invests in India-based hydrogen developer

Green hydrogen developer Hygenco aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco Green Energies Pvt. Ltd (Hygenco), a green hydrogen developer, has received a GBP 22m investment from the Neev II Fund, a climate and sustainability focused fund backed by the UK and EU governments, according to a news release.

The investment will enable Hygenco to commercialize its early pipeline, as it aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco, which deploys scaled-up commercially attractive green hydrogen solutions, will build-own-operate multiple green hydrogen facilities across the country. Founded by professionals having decades of experience in renewable energy, project development and consulting, the investment by Neev will give an impetus to large-scale Green Hydrogen deployment in India.

Neev II Fund along with its predecessor Neev I Fund are managed by SBICAP Ventures, which has backing from the UK government through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It is also backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Neev I Fund, launched in 2015, has invested into 10 companies in diverse clean energy, Agri supply chain and social infrastructure sectors. Neev II Fund is the successor fund launched in June 2021 that seeks to provide growth and expansion capital to companies offering solutions for clean energy, electric vehicles, efficient use of raw materials, and water and circular economy projects in the country.

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Exclusive: World Energy GH2 targeting early 2025 FID

World Energy GH2 is aiming to reach FID early next year – and advancing project financing discussions with a pair of advisors – on the $5bn phase 1 green ammonia development in Newfoundland and Labrador known as Project Nujio’qonik. We spoke to Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet in detail about the project.

World Energy GH2, the developer of a green ammonia export project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is aiming to reach FID in early 2025 on phase 1 of Project Nujio’qonik, Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet said in an interview.

Phase 1 of the project entails the construction of a 1 GW wind facility and 600 MW of electrolysis for an estimated cost of $5bn, Leet said. Once complete, the first phase of Project Nujio’qonik is expected to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of green ammonia for export.

The developer is working with Green Giraffe and RBC Capital Markets to advance a project financing deal, the same advisors that assisted World Energy GH2 on a $95m loan from Export Development Canada, announced last week.

The debt-to-equity split for the $5bn capital raise is still being iterated as the company looks at financing options with the available government subsidies and potential support from export agencies, Leet said. The company has not yet lined up an arranger for debt financing and expects to make a decision on that role at a later date, he added.

A schedule update is in progress as part of the project’s FEED readiness assessment. This update, considering factors such as long lead item availability and offtaker delivery requirements, is a required step before the start of FEED and is expected to be released around April 15. 

The FEED readiness assessment, Leet said, “is a process that we’ve undertaken with some value engineering due to some learnings from the pre-FEED deliverables and some other aspects of just making sure we’re well prepared for FEED so we can execute flawlessly on that.”

Leet expects the FEED process will take between nine and 12 months, setting the developer up for an FID in early 2025. As part of a competitive bidding process, World Energy GH2 was awarded four different Crown land sites, each capable of producing 1 GW of wind power, allowing for additional phases up to 4 GW of renewables.

Newfoundland, the distant Canadian island where Project Nujio’qonik is located, has become a hotbed of green ammonia project activity due to its exceptional wind resource, with as many eight major projects springing up (see, and zoom, on map).

Investment outlook

The Canadian government has promulgated a clean hydrogen investment tax credit of up to 40% on certain expenses, available until 2035. And in its most recent budget, the government floated the idea of providing contracts for difference to help de-risk emission-reducing projects. 

Leet believes that the CfD arrangement, which will be administered by the Canada Growth Fund, will be tied to the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance, an agreement that promotes clean hydrogen trade ties between the two nations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed the accord at World Energy GH2’s site in Stephenville, with the aim of shipping hydrogen or ammonia by 2025 – a timeline that looks increasingly stretched. And World Energy GH2 earlier this year became the first North American member of Germany’s Port of Wilhelmshaven's energy hub.

“Those details haven’t been announced yet but we’re hopeful that the CfD mechanism is there to work alongside the ITC,” Leet said.

Additional financing could come from more export credit agencies “in the countries you would expect” that would support local companies providing equipment to Project Nujio’qonik. “That will be a very likely piece of our financing arrangement.”

World Energy GH2 is in discussions with various offtakers, but will be able to engage in greater detail once the ITC and CfD subsidies are clarified, and once the project receives its environmental permit, Leets said. 

World Energy GH2 was set up as a standalone Canadian company with the sole purpose of executing on Project Nujio’qonik. It is owned by its founders along with SK ecoplant, the environment and energy arm of Korea’s SK Group, which took a 20% stake in the company – and also the project – for $50m.

Gene Gebolys, the founder and CEO of World Energy LLC, a provider of low-carbon fuels, is also a founder of Project Nujio’qonik. And John Risley, another partner of the Canadian project, is a co-owner of World Energy LLC.

Support from existing investors along with the Export Development Canada facility announced last week make the project entity well capitalized to move “expeditiously” through FEED to FID, Leet said.

Canada to Europe

World Energy GH2 is talking to the major ammonia players about a scale-up of import capacity on European shores.

Leet noted specifically that the Antwerp-Bruges port has plans to scale up to handle the increased amounts of ammonia imports, for use in the various industries located in Belgium and potentially on to Germany from there.

Three companies – Fluxys, Advario Stolthaven Antwerp, and Advario Gas Terminal – have said they are considering constructing an open-access ammonia import terminal at the port of Antwerp-Bruges. Air Liquide also said it will build an ammonia cracking facility there.

The Port of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, where World Energy GH2 is a member of the energy hub, has similar plans to scale up, with various companies evaluating ammonia import terminals and cracking facilities.

Meanwhile, Leet said the ammonia product that it ships to Europe, in addition to benefiting from Canadian subsidies and tax credits, will also comply with the EU’s RFNBO standards.

The project has existing grid and water connections already at the Port of Stephenville, since the hydrogen plant will be built on top of a former paper mill which consumed both water and electricity. 

“So we're fortunate to have that grid connection available to us and the power in the Newfoundland grid is well over 90% existing hydro,” Leet said. “So between that and our wind power, we will have no issue meeting the standard set by the EU for green hydrogen and it will be 100% RFNBO compliant.”

The company is working on regulatory certification with multiple bodies but has not finalized a provider.

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Green ammonia provider looking to US for growth

A European green ammonia solutions provider is considering a number of strategies to grow in the US, including capital raising, strategic partnerships and a spinoff.

Proton Ventures, a provider of small-scale green ammonia solutions based in Holland, is considering several possibilities for growing its presence in the US, founder Hans Vrijenhoef said on the sidelines of the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam.

Vrijenhoef, who also serves as president of the Ammonia Energy Association, founded Proton Ventures in 2000 after speaking to John Holbrook, an early proponent of ammonia as a fuel and a founder of the AEA.

Today Vrijenhoef is a minority shareholder owning one-third of the company, he said. The majority shareholder is Kees Koolen, the former CEO of Booking.com and a founding partner of EQT Ventures.

In the US the firm’s concept is to deploy its technology – small scale ammonia production – at wind farms in Midwestern states like Iowa, Kansas and the Dakotas to make fertilizer for regional farms and replace grey hydrogen in US agribusiness.

The company’s technology has also been deployed to convert flare gas at shale oil production sites in Saskatchewan into ammonia, Vrijenhoef said, adding that any energy source is applicable.

“We are in a position to deploy multiple hundreds of units in the US,” he said. “We need liquidity to do projects. We need a shareholder to come in.”

The company may have a need for a US-based M&A advisor, Vrijenhoef said. Multiple capital strategies, including a spinoff of the North American subsidiaries, are possible.

The technology is proven through a pilot project in Morocco, which has reached FID, he said. Modular ammonia units can produce between 1,000 and 20,000 tonnes, with the option to put multiple units at one site.

The company partly contracts its manufacturing in The Netherlands but could find new partnerships in the US, Vrijenhoef said. He highlighted an existing relationship with Northwest Mechanical in Davenport,Iowa.

The US subsidiary of Proton Ventures is an LLC based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Vrijenhoef said. A Calgary-based subsidiary is called NFuelTechnologies.

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Exclusive: Carbon capture firm raising $1.2bn for ammonia facility

A carbon capture and technology firm is conducting a FEED study for a blue ammonia facility it expects will cost some $1.2bn in traditional project finance. The company also has a pipeline of biomass-to-electricity (or “biome”) projects in the works.

8 Rivers Capital, the North Carolina-based carbon capture and technology firm backed by South Korea’s SK, Inc., is planning to raise some $1.2bn for its first ammonia production facility in Texas, Chief Development Officer Damian Beauchamp said in an interview.

The firm is conducting a FEED study for its Cormorant blue ammonia facility in Port Arthur, Texas, which will be finished in October, Beauchamp said. The firm is not using a financial advisor.

The money will be raised in a 30/70 split between equity and debt, he said. SK will take 100% of the facility’s production. 8 Rivers anticipates bringing the facility online in 2027 or 2028.

The company will seek to maintain significant ownership in its ammonia facilities. Once the FEED is finished on one the firm will start another until the company has completed between 10 and 20 of these facilities, Beauchamp said.

“We have the ambition to dominate the ammonia/zero carbon fuels space,” Beauchamp said.

‘BIOME’

In a new vertical start of electricity generation production, 8 Rivers is now scouting locations to develop its first biomass-to-electricity generation facilities in the US, Beauchamp said.

The projects, referred to as “biome” by the firm, will use forestry biomass as a feedstock in plants up to 250 MW in size. Unlike ammonia, 8 Rivers will not seek to keep ownership in an IPP play, but rather solicit co-investment from utility and industrial offtakers.

The southeastern US is a region of particular interest, Beauchamp said, because of a long growing season, the abundance of feedstock from timber, lumber and paper product producers, and proximity to existing CO2 management and transport infrastructure.

“That’s our general focus area for that first project,” he said of the deep south of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

The strategy is to take on strategic ownership partners – utilities and industrial powers users — as early as possible to finance development, he said. Large entities, including foreign utilities, could also take ownership interest in projects, not dissimilar from investment in LNG facilities.

Projects will likely cost $1bn and up, and the firm anticipates having the first progressing in earnest by 2029. Eventually 8 Rivers seeks to develop a portfolio of four or five of these projects at 250 MW each along with additional projects of a smaller size, Beauchamp said.

The first project should also be able to sell 2.7m tonnes of carbon credits per annum, Beauchamp said.

8 Rivers’ Calcite technology was announced as a winner of the Department of Energy’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hub grant, as an anchor technology in the Alabama regional DAC hub led by Southern States Energy Board.

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