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Electric Hydrogen agrees 1 GW electrolyzer supply with AES

The supply reservation agreement includes commercial requirements for AES to order up to 1  GW of 100 MW electrolyzer plants from Electric Hydrogen.

Electric Hydrogen has reached a comprehensive framework supply agreement with The AES Corporation for up to 1 GW of large-scale electrolyzer plants to produce low-cost, green hydrogen from renewable energy, according to a news release.

This supply reservation agreement includes commercial requirements for AES to order up to 1  GW of fully integrated, low-cost 100 MW electrolyzer plants from Electric Hydrogen.

“AES’ expertise in power markets, project development and new technology integration are best-in-class,” said Raffi Garabedian, CEO of Electric Hydrogen. “We’re excited to help AES deliver on the promise of green hydrogen and look forward to partnering with them on their future hydrogen projects.”

Electric Hydrogen’s 100 MW high-tech electrolyzer plants feature the capability to follow variable renewable energy resources allowing customers to optimize energy use and maximize project returns, the release says. The plants are designed and manufactured in the US, and the company is presently pre-fabricating its first customer-sited plant in Texas and has two operating plants in California.

“Electric Hydrogen’s innovative technology and large-scale product enables AES to offer cost effective decarbonization solutions for our customers in the most difficult to decarbonize sectors,” said Ashley Smith, Chief Innovation Officer, AES. “AES is taking steps to secure our supply chain proactively as we strategically grow our green hydrogen business.”

Electric Hydrogen’s roadmap to scale high-rate manufacturing in the US is intended to make green hydrogen competitive with fossil fuel resources by 2030. That roadmap also will allow US electrolyzer manufacturing to outstrip low-tech electrolyzer alternatives, such as alkaline products currently mass-produced in China.

The procurement reservation agreement enables AES to develop additional green hydrogen projects, capitalizing on EH2’s project scale, efficiency and low capital costs.

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NextEra leads Series A round for DAC start-up

NextEra has led a $36m Series A funding round for a start-up that’s developing hybrid direct air capture technology.

Avnos, Inc. (Avnos), the Los Angeles-based company developing novel Hybrid Direct Air Capture (HDAC) technology for carbon dioxide removal, has closed $36 million in Series A funding, according to a news release.

Avnos will use the new funds to grow its world-class team, deploy additional HDAC assets across North America and Europe, and open a new, state-of-the-art research and development facility located just outside New York City.

NextEra Energy, one of America’s largest utilities and investors in clean energy infrastructure, led the round. Other investors include Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. The funding supplements Avnos’ previously announced capital raises and strategic commercial agreements with Shell Ventures, ConocoPhilips, JetBlue Ventures and the Grantham Foundation, as well as pilot projects with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Avnos has pioneered HDAC using proprietary materials and processes to capture both carbon dioxide and water simultaneously from the atmosphere, according to a news release. The process eliminates the need for external heat input and produces approximately 5 tons of water for every 1 ton of carbon dioxide captured. Avnos’ resource-intelligent technology means lower impact on and expanded employment opportunities for the communities surrounding HDAC facilities.

“At Avnos, we believe our novel HDAC technology is the world’s best shot at reaching the much-needed gigaton scale of carbon dioxide removal,” said Will Kain, CEO of Avnos. “We feel the urgency to roll out HDAC more broadly so as to deliver on the enormous, positive climate and economic opportunities in front of us. With this substantial funding, Avnos continues to expand its unparalleled roster of partners supporting our rapid acceleration.”

The new, multi-million-dollar research and development facility, equipped with best-in-class equipment and infrastructure, will enable Avnos to accelerate the pace of scaling the company’s HDAC technology while ensuring its systems continue to operate at peak performance. The 20,000 square foot facility will be fully operational in February 2024 and will employ an estimated 20 new employees.

“Our state-of-the-art lab underscores our mission to push the frontiers of innovation and deliver scalable and efficient carbon removal solutions,” said Ben McCool, Senior VP of Technology at Avnos. “As we expand our dynamic technical team, I’m proud to cultivate a collaborative environment that brings together top-notch talent, actively shaping and advancing the cutting-edge technologies driving Avnos towards impactful solutions.”

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Norway-based HydrogenPro signals push into U.S. with new CEO hire

The OEM for alkaline electrolyzers is targeting the US for growth with the hire of Tarjei Johansen, who has held senior roles in Houston.

HydrogenPro ASA has appointed Tarjei Johansen as new chief executive officer, according to a press release.

The interim CEO and founder of HydrogenPro Richard Espeseth will return to his former position as business developer and technology leader in the company.

Johansen has held senior roles at the Houston-based operations of Bureau Veritas, Kemira, and Schlumberger, according to his LinkedIn account.

HydrogenPro is a technology company and an OEM for high pressure alkaline electrolyzer and supplies large scale green hydrogen plants. It has partnered with DG Fuels in the US, among others, to supply hydrogen for sustainable aviation fuel via its electrolyzers.

“US will be HydrogenPro’s most important market in the coming years, and Tarjei brings 25 years of experience in this market. Tarjei is a merited leader known for his multifaceted strategic execution skills, drive and ability to energize organizations. We are confident that Tarjei together with the Company´s executive team and board of directors will continue the development of HydrogenPro as a leading provider of green hydrogen technology,” said Ellen Hanetho, chair of the board of directors of HydrogenPro.

“I am excited to join HydrogenPro to promote its leading green hydrogen technology in a fast-growing energy transition market. I will work alongside my colleagues to create customer- and shareholder value every day,” said Johansen.

Johansen enters his new position on December 1st this year. He will move back to Norway where HydrogenPro is headquartered.

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Tree Energy Solutions and EWE building electrolyzer in Wilhelmshaven

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW at the hub on the North Sea coast.

Tree Energy Solutions and German utility EWE are signing an MoU to build an electrolyzer in TES’ Green Energy Hub in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, according to a press release.

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW.

The hub in Wilhelmshaven is on the North Sea coast and can accommodate up to 2 GW capacity electrolyzers with renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

In October Tree Energy Solutions agreed to terms for Fortescue Future industries to make an equity investment of EUR 30m to become a strategic shareholder in TES, and to invest EUR 100m for a stake in the construction of the import terminal in Wilhelmshaven. Before that the Belgium-based company concluded its second fundraising round at EUR 65m.

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AEM electrolyzer startup conducting Series B capital raise

A maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is undergoing a Series B capital raise.

Versogen, an electrolyzer startup, is conducting a Series B capital raise, with the aim of closing the round in the coming weeks, CFO Tim Krebs said in an interview.

The Delaware-based maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is seeking to raise multiples of its Series A capital raise, Krebs said, which was a $14.5m round completed in May, 2022.

Proceeds from the Series B would allow the company to complete development of its AEM electrolyzer, a 1 MW modular hydrogen generation system, Krebs said. The company is not using a financial advisor.

The Series A funding round was led by Doosan Corporation and its affiliate HyAxiom. Other investors include The Chemours Company, TechEnergy Ventures, Wenstone H2Tech, TOP Ventures America, a CVC arm of Thai Oil Public Company Limited, DSC Investment and CN Innovations Investments Limited. 

Krebs, a former investment banker who has been the CFO of three energy technology companies, expects some existing investors will also participate in Versogen’s Series B round.

Versogen is led by co-founder and CEO Yushan Yan, an electrochemical engineer and inventor. The company touts a technology using low-cost construction materials like an alkaline electrolyzer but a more efficient production process akin to a membrane-based PEM electrolyzer.

Market dynamics

The capital raise is taking place amid a crowded field of electrolyzer startups looking to raise money in order to finalize designs and cement commercial opportunities.

Among others, Electric Hydrogen, a PEM electrolyzer startup, recently raised a $380m Series C; Verdagy raised a $73m Series B in August; and HyAxiom, a developer and manufacturer of fuel cell and electrolyzer solutions, completed a $150m private placement of convertible preferred stock in July.

At the same time, growth equity as well as Series A and Series B funding for climate tech dropped significantly through the first half of 2023.

Series A funding fell 36%, while Series B funding dropped 20% and growth equity investments fell by 64%, according to data from Climate Tech Venture Capital. Series C funding dropped by 72% in 1H23 compared to the same period last year, the same data shows.

Still, the market for electrolyzers is supported by undersupply as green hydrogen projects advance around the world.

James Bowe, a partner at King & Spalding who is advising on several large green hydrogen projects, said the three top manufacturers of electrolyzers are sold out for the next three to four years, potentially providing an opportunity for startups to fill the gap. Bowe made the comments yesterday during a panel at the Reuters North America Hydrogen conference in Houston.

Additionally, several catalysts for further electrolyzer demand are on the near-term horizon. The US Department of Energy is expected to announce the winners of up to $8bn in government funding for hydrogen hubs this week, while guidance from the IRS detailing rules to qualify for green hydrogen tax credits should be issued in the coming months.

Further clarity on government support for the hydrogen industry is expected to spur many projects toward final offtake arrangements and final investment decisions, experts say.

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Caliche CEO talks hydrogen and CO2 storage expansion

Following the acquisition of assets in Texas and California, Caliche Development Partners CEO Dave Marchese discusses opportunities for growth in the hydrogen and C02 storage market.

Caliche Development Partners II has made a pair of acquisitions with the aim of expanding into growing hydrogen and CO2 storage markets in Texas and California, CEO Dave Marchese said in an interview.

The company, which is backed by Orion Infrastructure Capital and GCM Grosvenor, this week announced the purchase of Golden Triangle Storage, in Beaumont, Texas; and the anticipated acquisition of Central Valley Gas Storage, in Northern California – two regions with increasing demand for storage to support variable power loads, natural gas liquefaction, and high penetrations of renewable resources.

Caliche and seller Southern Company did not use financial advisors for the transaction. Caliche used Willkie Farr as its law firm for the financing and the transactions.

Marchese, who has a private equity background and first worked on a successful investment in a fuel cell company in the year 2000, has also racked up years of experience investing in and operating underground storage assets. The Caliche team developed and sold a natural gas liquids and helium storage business – called Coastal Caverns – earlier this year.

“We know how to put things underground and keep them there, including very small molecules, and we have relationships with many of the customers that are using hydrogen today,” he said.

Roughly a third of the industrial CO2 emissions on the Gulf Coast come from the Golden Triangle area, a region in Southeast Texas between the cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange. Much of this CO2 comes from the steam methane reformers that are within 15 miles of Caliche’s newly acquired Golden Triangle asset, Marchese said. The site is in similar proximity to pipelines operated by the air companies – Air Products, Air Liquide, and Praxair – that run from Corpus Christi to New Orleans.

“We’re within 15 miles of 90% of the hydrogen that’s flowing in this country today,” he added. “Pipeline systems need a bulk storage piece to balance flows. We can provide storage for an SMR’s natural gas, storage for its hydrogen, and we can take away captured CO2 if the plant is blue.”

The Golden Triangle site, which sits on the Spindletop salt dome, has room and permits for nine caverns total, with two currently in natural gas service. Three of those caverns are permitted for underground gas storage. “We could start a hydrogen well tomorrow if we had a customer for it,” Marchese said.

The Central Valley assets in Northern California are also positioned for expansion, under the belief that the California market will need natural gas storage for some time to support the integration of renewables onto the grid, he said. Additionally, the assets have all of the safety, monitoring and verification tools for sequestration-type operations, he added, making it a good location to start exploring CO2 sequestration in California. “We think it’s an expansion opportunity,” he said.

“Being an operator in the natural gas market allows us to enter those other markets with a large initial capital investments already covered by cash flowing business, so it allows us to explore incrementally the hydrogen and CO2 businesses rather than having to be a new entrant and invest in all the things you need to stand up an operation.”

Caliche spent $186m to acquire the two assets, following a $268m commitment from Orion and GCM. The balance of the financial commitment will support expansion.

“We’re capitalized such that we have the money to permit, build, and operate wells for potential CO2 sequestration customers,” he said. “The relationship with these stable, large investors also meets the needs of expansion projects: if somebody wanted not only a hydrogen well but compressors as well, we have access to additional capital for underwritten projects to put those into service.”

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US hydrogen developer auditioning bankers

A US-based clean fuels developer has large capital needs for unannounced green hydrogen projects in California and Illinois, as well as an ammonia facility in Texas.

A US-based clean fuels developer has large capital needs for unannounced green hydrogen projects in California and Illinois, as well as an ammonia facility in Texas.

Avina Clean Hydrogen has yet to formally engage an investment banker to raise the equity and debt needed for a trio of projects under development in the US, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The company, which recently announced the formation of a strategic advisory board composed of executives from companies like Cummins, bp and Rolls Royce, will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity, as previously reported by ReSource. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Capital raises for Avina’s 700,000 mtpa green ammonia project in the Texas Gulf Coast and a larger operating company raise will launch next month, Shah said.

“The amounts that we are going to need to raise have gone up,” Shah said. “We are working with a number of banks but we’ve not engaged anyone formally.”

Buildout of the Texas project has been accelerated. The company recently announced an agreement with KBR for that project, which is scheduled to come online next year.

Project level capital has been raised for Texas and a green hydrogen project in Southern California, Shah said. An additional green hydrogen project in Illinois is in development as well.

Finding the renewable power

Renewable power needs for these facilities are big, but Shah said the company doesn’t see a shortage of power. Instead, developers are facing interconnection issues and subsequent cost increases.

Hydrogen developers in California are in many cases offering higher prices for renewable energy than other buyers, Shah said. The issue is that credit-worthy investment counterparties are often seen as more attractive offtakers regardless of the higher price offers from aspiring hydrogen producers.

“I would say California is different,” Shah said. “The offtake market is a challenge.”

There are renewables developers with a genuine interest in hydrogen looking at the sector as a long-term play, Shah said. But for some without a strategic interest in hydrogen, a community choice aggregator offering a 15-year offtake is more certain than a hydrogen developer offering a 10-year offtake; higher price can be seen as a trade-off.

“That’s the nature of the beast, right now.”

Regulatory uncertainty

Investors looking into the space are hesitating to deploy capital in some cases because of uncertainty around IRA clarifications, particularly with regards to the PTC qualifications, Vishal said.

“A lot of the customers, lenders, everybody’s waiting to make decisions,” Vishal said. Offtakers also have hesitations. “Nobody wants to sign long-term contracts in an environment where pricing is not clear.”

Shah said investors should look for offtake when investing in projects. Avina has two of three contracts signed for each of its projects.

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