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EverWind completes FEED study for Point Tupper project

EverWind said it represented the first announced completion of a FEED study for a large-scale green hydrogen project in North America.

EverWind Fuels has completed the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) and Front-End Loading Engineering (FEL-3) with Black & Veatch for its Phase 1 Green Hydrogen to Green Ammonia project in Point Tupper, Nova Scotia.

The completion of the FEED engineering, which included over 110,000 hours of engineering, marks a major milestone in the development of the Project and represents the first announced completion of FEED for a large-scale green hydrogen and green ammonia production facility in North America, EverWind said in a news release.

The project will use cutting-edge PEM electrolyzers, and ammonia synthesis technology from Casale S.A. to convert water from man-made Landrie Lake and energy primarily from newly-built wind farms into green hydrogen and green ammonia.

The first phase of EverWind’s project is designed to produce approximately 240,000 tonnes per annum of green ammonia. The project meets the strictest global requirements for green fuels set by the European Renewable Energy Directive and has been pre-certified by CertifHy™.

The significant experience, learnings and expertise gained through the FEED process will directly benefit the ongoing development of future phases of the project in Nova Scotia, as well as the concurrent development of a world scale green fuels project in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The project’s environmental assessment approval was received in February 2023, with construction on track to begin later this year, and first production in 2026.

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Spain-based Exolum acquires stake in Houston ammonia terminal

ReSource first reported earlier this year that valuation multiples for the terminal stake held by Moda Midstream were being discussed above 20x EBITDA.

Exolum, a provider of liquid product storage and logistics, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 50% interest in Vopak Moda Houston LLC, an ammonia storage, import and export terminal located on the Houston Ship Channel, from Moda Midstream LLC, according to a news release.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Greenhill & Co., LLC acted as exclusive financial adviser to Exolum, and Haynes and Boone, LLP acted as legal counsel. Intrepid Partners, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Moda, and Vinson & Elkins acted as legal counsel. Shearman & Sterling acted as legal counsel to EnCap Flatrock.

ReSource first reported on the sale earlier this year, with valuations coming in at 20x – 25x contracted EBITDA of $13m.

Vopak Moda Houston (VMH) is a joint venture that is 50% owned by Moda Midstream, an EnCap Flatrock Midstream portfolio company, while the remaining 50% interest is owned by Vopak Terminals North America.

Royal Vopak remains as 50% shareholder in the new joint venture.

The acquisition will enable Exolum to establish a key presence in the U.S. Gulf Coast with existing ammonia logistics infrastructure. The terminal and its partners are currently developing one of the most advanced low-carbon ammonia production and export projects worldwide, with targeted annual throughput capacity of 1.1 million tonnes and 70,000 tonnes of additional storage capacity permitted.

The acquisition of Moda’s interest in VMH will be another step forward in Exolum’s diversification strategy and will position Exolum as a leading manager of infrastructure and decarbonizing fuel in the decades to come. The investment in VMH will serve as a platform for Exolum’s development in the U.S. and the acquisition of key competences in the development of the logistics infrastructures required by the energy transition in order to boost low-carbon fuels.

Exolum’s CEO, Jorge Lanza, highlighted that “Exolum strives to become a key player in the development of supply chains for new sustainable energy products, such as ammonia and green methanol. This operation, our first in the U.S., will enable us to continue strengthening our position in strategic ports and to promote the energy transition and the decarbonization of mobility at an international level”.

Moda Midstream President & CEO Jonathan Ackerman said, “I am proud of the collaboration and hard work among the Moda, Vopak and Vopak Moda Houston teams as we transformed a greenfield site into a brand-new liquids terminal in the Port of Houston. I am excited to see how Vopak Moda Houston will build upon its solid foundation to expand and pursue growth opportunities with global storage leader Exolum as its new partner”.

Maria Ciliberti, Vopak president US and Canada: “I am very pleased with Exolum entering as co- shareholder. By pooling our knowledge, network and experience we can further develop this strategically located terminal and marine infrastructure. The worldwide movement to decarbonize industry and transportation will drive strong global demand for low-carbon ammonia. Our joint venture entity situated on the Houston Ship Channel is very well positioned and can serve a critical role in the energy transition, not only for the USA but also for export markets”.

VMH is the only existing waterborne ammonia terminal on the Houston Ship Channel with a Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC)-capable deepwater berth and is strategically connected via pipeline to the Port of Houston’s petrochemical complex, the largest petrochemical hub in the U.S. and the world’s second largest. The facility currently provides ammonia and natural gas liquid (NGL) storage services.

The facility’s location, large-scale export capabilities, extensive experience in management and ample undeveloped acreage offer new growth opportunities for further development. In October 2023, VMH announced its plans to build a new large-scale, low-carbon ammonia export facility in collaboration with INPEX Corporation, based in Tokyo, Air Liquide Group, based in Paris, and LSB Industries, Inc., based in Oklahoma City.

Ammonia is widely expected to become a driver for decarbonization due to its ability to reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors, including power generation, heavy industry, marine fuel, and other mobility methods. With the ability to safely and reliably store and transport ammonia and other pressurised gasses, VMH will be a great contributor to the energy transition supply chain.

With its state-of-the-art ammonia terminal infrastructure and workforce that is ideally located on the Houston Ship Channel, VMH is positioned to become the leading hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia hub on the U.S. Gulf Coast and to facilitate the acceleration of energy decarbonization globally, according to the release.

The transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory reviews and approvals is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.

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Evercore managing director moves to NextEra

A well-known Evercore managing director has made a career move into hydrogen, taking an executive director position at NextEra.

Sean Morgan, a former public equity market analyst at Evercore who made television appearances on CNBC, has taken a new position within the hydrogen business at NextEra Energy Resources.

Morgan, who as an analyst covered the LNG and clean energy markets, took a role as executive director of hydrogen market analytics at NextEra in August, according to his LinkedIn profile. He ended at Evercore as a managing director.

Prior to joining Evercore, Morgan worked as a portfolio manager at Blue Shores Capital, and also worked on the leveraged credit team at SocGen.

NextEra is evaluating a potential $20bn pipeline of hydrogen projects.

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Insurer launches world’s first facility for green and blue hydrogen project risks

The facility provides up to USD 300m of cover per risk for the construction and start up phases of hydrogen projects globally.

Insurance broker Marsh has launched a first-of-its-kind facility to provide dedicated insurance capacity for new and existing green and blue hydrogen energy projects, according to a press release.

Developed in collaboration with insurers Liberty Specialty Markets, part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and AIG, the facility provides up to USD 300m of cover per risk for the construction and start up phases of hydrogen projects globally.

Investment in green and blue hydrogen initiatives is estimated to exceed USD 150bn by 2025 but operators have found it hard to secure adequate insurance market provision for these technologies.

Marsh’s facility is backed by a panel of A-rated global insurers, led by LSM and AIG. It is structured flexibly to enable clients – from small operators to multinational organizations – to choose coverage for the construction or startup phase, or a combined risks policy that extends to first year operations.

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Exclusive: Australian fuels producer looking for US development partners

An Australian fuels producer and concentrated solar power developer partnered with German and US fossil interests is developing its first US clean fuels project in Texas, and is looking for development partners with eyes on the greater southwest.

Vast Energy, the Australia-based and NASDAQ-listed concentrated solar power (CSP) developer and fuels producer, is in the early stages of developing a project near El Paso, Texas – the company’s first in the US – and is seeking US development partners to generate a pipeline of projects throughout the country, CEO Craig Wood said in an interview.

Vast is in process with two projects in Port Augusta, South Australia: VS1, a 30 MW solar/8 MWh storage plant, and SM1, a demonstration solar-to-methanol plant co-located with VS1, producing up to 7,500 mtpa of green methanol from VS1 electricity and heat with extra power available on the grid.

VS1 is scheduled for FID in 3Q24 with FID on SM1 coming the following quarter, Wood said.

Vast recently announced funding agreements with German partner Mabanaft for up to AUD $40m for SM1, after the SM1 project was selected last year as a part of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE).

Methanol from the $80m SM1 will in part be exported to Germany. Vast is also working with EDF to provide additional financing, Wood said.

“Essentially it’s going to be debt free and on balance sheet,” Wood said.

German container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd recently signed an MOU with Mabanaft to explore options for the supply of ammonia as bunker fuel to Hapag-Lloyd in the Port of Houston.

US opportunity

In the US, where Vast listed to be primed for opportunistic growth, the company has a shortlist of locations around El Paso, has engaged with regional economic development leaders, and held early talks with EPC providers, Wood said.

The El Paso project is being developed in conjunction with Houston-based oil and gas drilling business Nabors Industries, Wood said. Nabors backed the SPAC that took Vast public at a valuation of up to $586m in early 2023. Its current market cap is $64m.

There are ongoing discussions on whether to produce eSAF or methanol in El Paso, Wood said.

To produce eSAF, Vast would use a solid-oxide electrolyzer coupled with the Fischer-Tropsch process, Wood said. Meanwhile, the methanol distillation process lends itself well to Vast’s ability to produce low-cost heat.

CSP has a lower level of embedded carbon than any renewables technology other than wind, Wood said.

“The work that we have done to date indicated that you would most likely power an eFuels project with a CSP plant that was configured to operate in the day and night,” Wood said.

As for project costs, envisioning a project producing some 200 million liters per annum, roughly $3bn would be needed for the power station, and then half that for the infrastructure to make the fuels.

Preliminary offtake for the El Paso project is going to be critical for attracting investment, Wood said. Offtake will depend on the type of fuel produced, though conversations are ongoing with shipping companies (methanol) and airlines (eSAF).

“We’re not expecting to have any problem placing the product,” Wood said. Offtake would likely be targeted for the Port of Los Angeles, LAX airport, the ports of the Gulf Coast, or Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Development of CSP makes sense anywhere climate is sunny and hot, Wood said. The company could logically expand into more of West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California.

The region around Farmington, New Mexico is particularly attractive for CSP development, Wood said. As a huge amount of coal-fired capacity in that area is retired, those interconnections, workforces and resources are ripe for repowering.

The turbines that one of those coal fired power stations would have is the same turbine at the core of Vast’s technology, Wood said. One difference is that Vast’s can be turned on and off quickly.

Development partnerships 

There is an opportunity for Vast to find a development partner, or partners, to stand up a pipeline of projects in two to three years’ time, Wood said.

“Almost everyone wants to wait until our project in Port Augusta reaches COD,” Wood said. “But we don’t want to wait that long to be developing projects in the US.”

Vast is capable of building CSP plants, which can be configured to operate in the day and night, co-located with existing larger-scale solar pv to provide additional generation and, critically, storage, Wood said. By directing sunlight to receivers and heating molten salt, CSP can store energy for 12-to-20 hours overnight to alleviate solar pv’s intermittency issues.

“Coming along and essentially retrofitting complementary CSP next to those [pv plants], we think is a very sensible way to go, both in terms of shared cost but also in terms of managing incremental transmission build,” Wood said. “We’re looking for people we can have conversations with.”

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exclusive

Siemens Energy planning new US electrolyzer capacity

The company is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Siemens Energy North America is laying the groundwork for new electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in the United States, President Richard Voorberg said during a panel discussion recently.

Siemens Energy, a global energy technology company, makes an 18 MW PEM electrolyzer, one of the largest in the world, and is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Voorberg said.

The company is building its first gigawatt factory in Berlin, Germany via a joint venture with France’s Air Liquide. The Berlin factory is expected to produce 1 GW of PEM electrolyzers per year starting in mid-2023.

“As soon as we get that first one up and running… I’ve got a plan already to put a 1,000 MW line in the US,” Voorberg said, speaking during an event at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Washington D.C. last month.

Siemens’ existing manufacturing capacity in the US could expand to accommodate that new line, or the company could look to build an entirely new facility, Voorberg said. He added that the recently passed IRA helps makes the business case to do so.

Following the IRA, customers went from asking for fractions of a megawatt to seeking 2 GW in a single order, Voorberg said. His 18 MW line is now insufficient.

“We’ve got to scale up,” he said. “Scale is everything.”

Voorberg said his company sees hydrogen being used in electricity production around 2035, but mobility can use it now.

The planned move by Siemens underscores the extent to which the IRA legislation has trained the hydrogen industry’s focus on the U.S. Norway-based electrolyzer producer Nel is speeding efforts to expand electrolyzer capacity in the U.S. And Cummins announced last month that it would add electrolyzer production space at its existing facility in Fridley, Minnesota.

Siemens Energy is independent of Siemens AG, having spun off in 2020. The company has about 10,000 employees in the US and roughly 2,000 in Canada.

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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