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Electrolyzer producer Hystar raises USD 26m

Norway-based Hystar is aiming to scale up to deliver projects of 100 MW and beyond. The funding round was co-led by AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Corporation.

Hystar AS, a Norwegian electrolyzer maker, has closed a Series B funding round of USD 26m to rapidly scale-up to full commercial operations with an automated GW-capacity production line by 2025.

The injection of capital, raised through equity, will also be used to fuel Oslo-headquartered Hystar’s growth, expansion into new markets, and ability to deliver on larger (100 MW and beyond) projects, according to a news release.

The round was co-led by AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Corporation. Additional investors in the round included Finindus, Nippon Steel Trading, Hillhouse Investment and Trustbridge Partners, alongside existing investors SINTEF Ventures and Firda.

Hystar’s PEM electrolysers are the most efficient and safest in the world and have been designed for mass manufacturing from the very beginning, the release says. The ultra-efficient design, which is patented and unique to Hystar, boasts a 90% thinner membrane than conventional electrolysers, enabling the production of up to 150% more green hydrogen.

Fredrik Mowill, CEO of Hystar, said of the funding round: “Since our inception, we have been committed to rapidly scaling up to ensure the widespread commercial deployment of our game-changing technology. We are therefore excited to have closed our Series B funding round with such high-quality industrial and financial investors who can contribute to accelerating our growth. We look forward to working with our new shareholders to explore joint opportunities to deploy green hydrogen projects at scale. We’re also very happy that our existing shareholders, with AP Ventures in the lead, have continued their strong support of Hystar.”

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NY awards $12.7m to three hydrogen projects

Governor Kathy Hochul has awarded USD 16.6m for five long duration energy storage projects, including USD 12.7m for three hydrogen plans.

Governor Kathy Hochul has awarded USD 16.6m for five long duration energy storage projects, including USD 12.7m for three hydrogen plans.

The Governor also said that an additional USD 17m in competitive funding is available for projects that advance development and demonstration of scalable innovative long duration energy storage technologies, according to a press release.

The projects will support the current Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to install 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030 while facilitating further development to 6,000 MW.

The USD 12.7m in awards will support the following hydrogen projects:

  • Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, LLC- USD 12.5m – To demonstrate nuclear-hydrogen fueled peak power generation paired with a long duration hydrogen energy storage unit to help reduce emissions from the New York Independent System Operator electric grid.
  • Power to Hydrogen – USD 100,000 – To develop a Reversible Fuel Cell System for Hydrogen Production and Energy Storage called the Clean Energy Bridge and to help facilitate the system’s readiness for demonstration and commercial adoption.
  • ROCCERA, LLC – USD 100,000 – To evaluate and demonstrate a novel commercially viable Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Cell prototype for clean hydrogen production together with a corresponding scalable, more efficient manufacturing process, the release states.

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Avangrid and Sempra tentatively planning US green hydrogen

Avangrid and Sempra Infrastructure have entered into a heads of agreement for the potential joint development of US green hydrogen and ammonia projects.

Avangrid and Sempra Infrastructure have entered into a heads of agreement (HOA) for the potential joint development of US green hydrogen and ammonia projects, according to a news release.

The HOA provides a framework for the companies to identify, appraise, and develop large-scale green hydrogen projects to serve US and international customers.

AVANGRID’s background in renewable development as the third largest renewables operators in the U.S., complements Sempra Infrastructure’s project development and commercial expertise across clean power, energy networks and LNG, the release states.

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Wärtsilä partners with cleantech start-up for onboard production of hydrogen from LNG

The concept design will be ready by mid 2023 and the prototype testing unit will be ready during the second half of 2024.

The technology group Wärtsilä has entered into a joint development agreement with Hycamite TCD Technologies, a privately-owned Finnish company specializing in the development of a technology for producing clean hydrogen and solid carbon from methane.

The two companies will work together to enable cost-effective production of hydrogen from LNG onboard marine vessels. The concept design will be ready by mid 2023 and the prototype testing unit will be ready during the second half of 2024.

The concept will allow the existing LNG infrastructure to be utilized and enable production of hydrogen onboard in combination with Wärtsilä’s LNGPac Fuel Gas Supply System. By producing hydrogen onboard and blending it with LNG, the current range of fuel flexible Wärtsilä dual-fuel (DF) engines can reduce the vessel’s overall carbon dioxide and methane slip emissions. Alternatively, the hydrogen can also be used in fuel cells onboard.

The by-product from the process is solid carbon that, unlike conventional technologies which produce carbon-dioxide (CO) as a by-product, can more easily be stored and managed onboard. The carbon produced consists of high-grade allotropes, like industrial graphite and carbon nanotubes, thereby offering a possible additional revenue stream.

“We are investing in the development of viable future marine fuel technologies and solutions that can accelerate the efforts to decarbonise shipping operations. This collaboration with Hycamite is an important step forward towards meeting our corporate targets. Our gas engines can already operate with mixtures of hydrogen and LNG. The ability to produce the H2 onboard opens up exciting new opportunities. This solution overcomes the lack of an existing hydrogen supply infrastructure. It also supports reducing the safety risks around storing and handling of liquid hydrogen and enables a gradual decrease of the vessels’ environmental impact,” says Mathias Jansson, director, Fuel Gas Supply Systems, Wärtsilä.

“We are delighted to be partnering with an established technology leader such as Wärtsilä. They bring a vast depth of knowledge and experience in marine fuel gas supply systems, and by working together, we can make the availability and onboard storage of hydrogen a realistic option for the marine industry,” says Laura Rahikka, founder and CEO of Hycamite.

The technology can in principle be applied for all vessels operating with LNG fuel. When using bioLNG, this solution enables even power generation on board ships with a negative carbon footprint.

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Interview: Vinson & Elkins’ Alan Alexander on the emerging hydrogen project development landscape

Vinson & Elkins Partner Alan Alexander, whose clients include OCI and Lotus Infrastructure, has watched the hydrogen project development space evolve from a fledgling idea to one that is ready for actionable projects.

Vinson & Elkins Partner Alan Alexander, whose clients include OCI and Lotus Infrastructure, has watched the hydrogen project development space evolve from a fledgling idea to one that is ready for actionable projects.

In the meantime, a number of novel legal and commercial issues facing hydrogen project developers have come to the forefront, as outlined in a paper from the law firm this week, which serves as a guide for thinking through major development questions that can snag projects.

In an interview, Alexander, a Houston-based project development and finance lawyer, says that, although some of the issues are unique – like the potential for a clean fuels pricing premium, ownership of environmental attributes, or carbon leaking from a sequestration site – addressing them is built on decades of practice.

“The way I like to put it is, yes, there are new issues being addressed using traditional tools, but there’s not yet a consensus around what constitutes ‘market terms’ for a number of them, so we are having to figure that out as we go,” he says.

Green hydrogen projects, for example, are “quite possibly” the most complex project type he has seen, given that they sit at the nexus between renewable electricity and downstream fuels applications, subjecting them to the commercial and permitting issues inherent in both verticals.

But even given the challenges, Alexander believes the market has reached commercial take-off for certain types of projects.

“When the hydrogen rush started, first it was renewables developers who knew a lot about how to develop renewables but nothing about how to market and sell hydrogen,” he says. “Then you got the people who were very enthusiastic about developing hydrogen projects but didn’t know exactly what to do with it. And now we’re beginning to see end-use cases develop and actionable projects that are very exciting, in some cases where renewables developers and hydrogen developers have teamed up to focus on their core competencies.”

A pricing premium?

In the article, Vinson & Elkins lawyers note that commodities pricing indices are not yet distinguishing between low-carbon and traditional fuels, even though a clean fuel has more value due to its low-carbon attributes. The observation echoes the conclusion of a group of offtakers who viewed the prospect of paying a premium for clean fuels as unrealistic, as they would need to pass on the higher costs to customers.

Eventually, Alexander says, the offtake market should price in a premium for clean products, but that might depend in the near term on incentives for clean fuels demand, such as carbon offsets and levies, like the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

“Ultimately what we need is for the market to say, ‘I will pay more for low-carbon products,’” he says. “The mindset of being willing to pay more for low-carbon products is going to need to begin to permeate into other sectors. 30 or 40 years ago the notion of paying a premium for an organic food didn’t exist. But today there are whole grocery store chains built around the idea. When the consumer is willing to pay a premium for low-carbon food, that will incentivize a farmer to pay a premium for low carbon fertilizer and ammonia, which will ultimately incentivize the payment of a premium for low-carbon hydrogen. The same needs to repeat itself across other sectors, such as fuels and anything made from steel.”

The law firm writes that US projects seeking to export to Europe or Asia need to take into account the greenhouse gas emissions and other requirements of the destination market when designing projects.

In the agreements that V&E is working on, for example, clients were first focused on structuring to make sure they met requirements for IRA tax credits and other domestic incentives, Alexander says. Meanwhile, as those clean fuels made their way to export markets, customers were coming back with a long list of requirements, “so what we’re seeing is this very interesting influx” of sustainability considerations into the hydrogen space, many of which are driven by requirements of the end-use market, such as the EU or Japan.

The more stringent requirements have existed for products like biofuels for some time, he adds, “but we’re beginning to see it in hydrogen and non-biogenic fuels.”

Sharing risk

Hydrogen projects are encountering other novel commercial and legal issues for which a “market” has not yet been developed, the law firm says, especially given the entry of a raft of new players and the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

In the case of a blue hydrogen or ammonia project where carbon is captured and sequestered but eventually leaks from a geological formation, for example, no one knows what the risk truly is, and the market is waiting for an insurance product to provide protection, Alexander says. But until it does, project parties can implement a risk-sharing mechanism in the form of a cap on liabilities – a traditional project development tool.

“If you’re a sequestration party you say, ‘Yeah, I get it, there is a risk of recapture and you’re relying on me to make sure that it doesn’t happen. But if something catastrophic does happen and the government were to reclaim your tax credits, it would bankrupt me if I were to fully indemnify you. So I simply can’t take the full amount of that risk.’”

What ends up getting negotiated is a cap on the liability, Alexander says, or the limit up to which the sequestration party is willing to absorb the liability through an indemnity.

The market is also evolving to take into account project-on-project risk for hydrogen, where an electrolyzer facility depends on the availability of, for example, clean electricity from a newly built wind farm.

“For most of my career, having a project up and reaching commercial operations by a certain date is addressed through no-fault termination rights,” he says. “But given the number of players in the hydrogen space and the amount of dollars involved, you’re beginning to see delay liquidated damages – which are typically an EPC concept – creep into supply and offtake agreements.”

If a developer is building an electrolyzer facility, and the renewables partner doesn’t have the wind farm up and running on time, it’s not in the hydrogen developer’s interest to terminate through a no-fault clause, given that they would then have a stranded asset and need to start over with another renewable power provider. Instead, Alexander says, the renewables partner can offset the losses by paying liquidated damages.

Commercial watch list

In terms of interesting commercial models for hydrogen, Alexander says he is watching the onsite modular hydrogen development space as well as power-to-fuels (natural gas, diesel, SAF), ammonia and methanol, given the challenges of transporting hydrogen.

“If you’re going to produce hydrogen, you need to produce it close to the place where it’s going to be consumed, because transporting it is hard. Or you need to turn it into something else that we already know how to transport – natural gas, renewable diesel, naphtha, ammonia.”

Alexander believes power-to-fuels projects and developers that are focused on smaller, on-site modular low-carbon hydrogen production are some of the most interesting to watch right now. Emitters are starting to realize they can lower their overall carbon footprint, he says, with a relatively small amount of low-carbon fuels and inputs.

“The argument there is to not completely replace an industrial gas supplier but to displace a little bit of it.”

At the same time, the mobility market may take off with help from US government incentives for hydrogen production and the growing realization that EVs might not provide a silver-bullet solution for decarbonizing transport, Alexander adds. However, hydrogen project developers targeting the mobility market are still competing with the cost of diesel, the current “bogey” for the hydrogen heavy mobility space, Alexander says.

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Exclusive: US-Ukraine battery storage firm in seed round

A US-based battery storage technology firm with operations in Ukraine and a utility-offtake pilot project in the southwestern US is in the early stages of finding institutional investors in the US and Europe.

SorbiForce, an Arizona-based battery storage technology firm, is raising $4.7m in seed funding with ambitions to find strategic investors for larger fundraising efforts in the next year, CEO Serhii Kaminskyi said in an interview.

The company, which was founded in western Ukraine and still has R&D operations there, aims to finish the seed round in five months, Kaminskyi said. Currently the US operations are housed at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

The batteries the company designs use little metal compared to other battery pack systems, instead using organic matter that can ultimately be biodegraded. The packs are filled with “ultra porous carbon materials” capable of storing up to 0.7 MWh.

SorbiForce is assisted by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff and Squire Patton Boggs as legal counsels, Kaminskyi said.

The seed round is for a 1 MW pilot project near Tucson, Arizona. That project has offtake contracted with Tucson Electric Power, Kaminskyi said. The B2B business model will be to sell batteries to customers in power generation, industrials, municipalities, and EV charging.

Kaminskyi, speaking from southern Italy, said the company is testing batteries in that country and has had discussions with offtakers in Germany, including automakers. The company has signed an agreement with a European energy company, he said, declining to name which.

The early-stage company is too-early for many financial investors, Kaminskyi said, and is looking for institutional investors with downstream need for battery storage.

“We’ve already received money from customers,” Kaminskyi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put strain on the company, particularly concerning the families of the company’s founding employees, Kaminskyi said. The facilities in Ukraine are safe, but he is in process of moving those facilities to Arizona.

Kaminskyi owns 56% of the company, with additional equity held by the founding scientific team and US employees, he said.

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Brookfield-owned renewables developer planning hydrogen co-location

An IPP and developer of wind, solar and storage projects is in early discussions with potential partners to co-locate electrolysis with its operating assets and projects in development.

Scout Clean Energy, the Boulder, Colorado-based IPP and renewables developer, is laying the groundwork to co-locate electrolysis for green hydrogen with its wind and solar assets, CEO Michael Rucker said in an interview.

The company’s Power2X team is charged with looking for alternative strategies, Rucker said.

“We are actively trying to match project opportunities with the future hydrogen economy,” he said, noting that the company’s operating wind portfolio provides a crucial piece of that. “Wind is an especially good fit for hydrogen production just in terms of pricing.”

Scout, which is owned by Brookfield Renewable, sees itself as producing green electrons and doesn’t want to get into marketing and distribution of hydrogen, Rucker said.

Brookfield acquired Scout in 2022 for $1bn, with the potential to invest an additional $350m to support development activities.

Scout has its first solar project in development in ERCOT, a market where shipping of hydrogen would make for a promising project, Rucker said. The company has also looked at the Midwest, where a robust SAF production ecosystem is forming, as well as the Pacific Northwest.

The company is already working with one hydrogen developer to match production to one of its wind farms, Rucker said. An exact location has not been selected.

Pricing diligence has been promising, Rucker said. But the offtake market in the US remains slow to develop despite regulatory encouragement.

“The IRA has given us maybe the most subsidized hydrogen production market in the world but it’s really being production-driven not demand-driven, so we really need to see more of the economy using hydrogen,” Rucker said. “I trust that will come, it’s just going to take longer than we think.”

Scout is not ready to take anything to market related to hydrogen, but ultimately there will be a need for financial advisory, Rucker said.
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