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Exclusive: Appalachian biogas firm seeking project debt

An RNG developer based in Appalachia with projects across the US is seeking project debt financing.

Northern Biogas, the West Virginia-based developer and operator of anaerobic digester and RNG facilities, is independently seeking debt for its project pipeline, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Backed by HIG Capital, Northern Biogas serves diary, landfill, food waste and municipal projects. The company has raised some $200m in debt with assistance from alternative energy finance provider Pathward National Association, one source said. Project debt has typically been raised in tranches of $20m to $30m for individual projects.

Northern Biogas’ portfolio includes five dairy farm projects under construction in Wisconsin and one in Michigan, according to the company’s website. The company has a presence in Texas and Colorado as well.

Representatives of the company did not respond to requests for comment.

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Pattern Energy signs green ammonia LOI with Germany’s Mabanaft

As part of the LOI, Mabanaft also plans to evaluate the opportunity to potentially become a co-investor next to Pattern Energy and share ammonia and infrastructure expertise.

German Energy company Mabanaft has signed a letter of intent with US-based Pattern Energy to consider a potential transaction for the supply to Mabanaft of green ammonia.

The green ammonia would be produced by Pattern Energy at the Port of Argentia, in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, starting in 2027, according to a news release.

The green ammonia production would require a new production facility with an estimated production capacity of 400 tonnes of ammonia per day. As part of the LOI, Mabanaft also plans to evaluate the opportunity to potentially become a co-investor next to Pattern Energy and share ammonia and infrastructure expertise. The green ammonia, produced with wind energy and hydroelectricity, is expected to make an important contribution to supplying industry in northern Germany and beyond with energy from renewable sources.

The LoI was signed by representatives of both companies at Mabanaft’s headquarters in Hamburg in the presence of the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Habeck, the Canadian Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Wilkinson and Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs Leonhard. Habeck and a political delegation from Canada also visited Mabanaft as part of their jointly organised German-Canadian Hydrogen and Ammonia Producer-Offtaker Symposium in Hamburg on 18 March 2024. The delegation trip included visits to companies in Hamburg that are engaged in hydrogen production, hydrogen storage or hydrogen use.

Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs Dr Melanie Leonhard: “The planned collaboration will bring energy from Canadian wind to Hamburg! In future, hydrogen and its derivatives are to be produced with wind energy in the windy region and then transported by ship to the German hydrogen capital, Hamburg. Thanks to the strong industry here, there is security of supply for the energy-intensive industries. Through cooperation between the Port of Hamburg and our Canadian partners, we will help to create the necessary infrastructure on the Canadian side.”

The “New Energy Gate” in Hamburg is also set to play a key role in Mabanaft’s planned imports of green ammonia. The planned New Energy Gate Hamburg is to become Mabanaft’s first major hub for the import, storage and processing of fuels from renewable energy sources. In November 2022, Mabanaft announced plans to build up an import terminal for green energy in the Port of Hamburg, with the US company Air Products as an anchor customer. Volker Ebeling, Senior Vice President New Energy, Supply and Infrastructure at Mabanaft, says: “We are absolutely convinced that hydrogen and its derivatives will play a key role in the energy supply of industrialised nations. The Letter of Intent we have signed today with Pattern Energy is a renewed commitment to this path.”

Cary Kottler, Chief Development Officer of Pattern Energy says: “Pattern Energy is thrilled to be working closely with Mabanaft on the further development of the Argentia Renewables project in Newfoundland & Labrador.  As a renewable energy leader in North America, Pattern Energy seeks to partner with energy industry leaders in Europe to fully develop the potential of green fuels production and export infrastructure in North America. The Argentia Renewables project is well positioned to be an early mover in the green hydrogen economy and will serve as an important element in Europe’s energy transition.”

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Tidewater receives additional funding to complete renewable diesel and hydrogen complex

The Canadian fuels producer had experienced cost overruns in the final stages of the project.

Tidewater Renewables Ltd. initial unit commissioning at its Renewable Diesel (HDRD) Complex and its financing solution to support the completion and start-up of the HDRD facility, according to a news release.

Following the previously announced capital cost increase, the corporation has significantly enhanced its funding capacity.  Tidewater Renewables is in discussion with its lenders to seek consents for increases to its lending facilities.  It has also received additional government support, in the form of an issuance of credits that will result in cash proceeds of $43m.

Tidewater executives had previously blamed the cost overruns on the lack of exotic components needed to complete the project, adding on the company’s most recent earnings call that more up-front engineering should have been done to avoid cost increases.

The HDRD Complex continues to progress on schedule and with no change to the previously announced gross capital cost estimate of $342m. Construction is currently estimated to be 93% complete with the last major piece of equipment now on site.  Construction operations commissioning has begun on several units with final completion and start-up expected to begin within two months. The HDRD project continues to be a leader in safety performance with zero loss time injuries throughout the life of the project to date.

To support the HDRD project, Tidewater Renewables has recently entered into firm credit sales agreements that will result in $43m of proceeds net to the corporation.  Proceeds from the credit sales and the anticipated expansion of its lending facilities will primarily be employed to offset the previously disclosed capital cost increases at the Corporation’s HDRD Complex. Tidewater Renewables believes its enhanced liquidity will sufficiently fund the HDRD project through start-up while providing significant additional flexibility.

“The support from government and our current capital providers has been fundamental to the ongoing advancement and success of our HDRD Complex, which will become Canada’s first Renewable Diesel facility. This project will provide significant value to our stakeholders while reducing the carbon intensity of fuels used in British Columbia and Canada” said Rob Colcleugh, Chairman and Interim CEO.

HDRD Complex Update

  • HDRD Complex construction is progressing as forecast and is 93% complete.
  • All major equipment for the HDRD Complex is now on site and set.
  • The majority of the dry commissioning of the utility packages is complete.
  • The tank farm and rail systems are now ready for operation.
  • Target start-up is expected within two months.
  • Operating at its design capacity, the HDRD Complex is expected to generate annualized run rate EBITDA of between $90 – 115m.
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French H2 carmaker unveils Normandy industrial site

The site will house the first production lines for a high-end hydrogen car, with a capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year, as well as an R&D center.

Hopium, the French manufacturer of high-end hydrogen-powered vehicles founded by professional race care driver Olivier Bomard, has unveiled its industrial site near Vernon, in Normandy.

The choice is part of the company’s ambition to develop its hydrogen-powered sedan models in France. The 85-acre site, located in the area of Douains, will house the first production lines, which will have a capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year, as well as an R&D center.

The infrastructure will be commissioned at the end of 2024, with an inauguration scheduled for early 2025, according to a news release. The Vernon site will eventually employ more than 1,500 people in all its divisions, and thus intends to contribute to the economic dynamism of the region.

“This is a major project that will contribute to France’s industrial renewal. We chose Normandy, a region that we believe has all the assets needed to host the factory of the future, starting with its unique geographic location between Paris and the Channel, reinforced by the Seine Axis, its industrial basin and its rich innovation hub, in which we are now involved in. Hopium, by selecting this site for the location of its cutting-edge infrastructure, is completing another decisive step in its roadmap, which should lead to the launch of the first Hopium Māchina models on the market in late 2025. I would like to thank the local and regional stakeholders as well as all the Hopium teams, who are invested in the implementation of the project,” said Lombard, CEO of Hopium.

“This project is excellent news for Normandy and is further proof of the economic dynamism of our region. It will also contribute to the development of the hydrogen industry in Normandy. Normandy, a leading industrial region, is a pioneer in the development of this promising sector. In order to strengthen the place of hydrogen in the energy transition, Normandy was the first French region to adopt its Hydrogen Plan in 2018. Nearly one-third of the national consumption of hydrogen is in Normandy, particularly in the chemical and petrochemical sectors as well as in the aerospace sector with the presence of the Ariane Group test site. With a network of recharging stations and hydrogen vehicles established throughout the region and the world’s first hydrogen retrofitted coach being tested on an intercity line, the Region is already a leader in hydrogen mobility,” said Hervé Morin, president of the Normandy Region.

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exclusive

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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3Q deals in focus: Macquarie’s investment in Atlas Agro

In one of the largest and most compelling clean fuels deals of 3Q23, Macquarie made a $325m investment into Americas-focused Atlas Agro, a developer of industrial-scale green nitrogen fertilizer plants that utilize green hydrogen as a feedstock. William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas, provides a closer look.

Macquarie Asset Management’s investment into green nitrogen developer Atlas Agro gives the manager a stake in the company along with the ability to invest in the developer’s projects.

The $325m investment, made via the Macquarie GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund, will benefit Atlas Agro’s previously announced fertilizer plant project in Richland, WA, and will also support the company’s global pipeline of green fertilizer facilities, according to William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas.

In addition to the 700,000 tons-per-year Richland project, Atlas Agro is pursuing a project in Minas Gerais, Brazil that will produce 500,000 tons per year. Both projects would make nitrate fertilizer and are estimated to cost $1bn. An additional facility is planned for the US Midwest.

In the production process, the plants utilize air, water, and renewable electricity as the only raw materials.

“There are a number of things that attracted us to Atlas Agro,” Demas said in response to written questions. “They have a strong management team with an established track record managing established companies and delivering projects in the fertilizer space.”

The GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund has a target size of approximately $1.9bn, which to date is just over 50% committed, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Next phase

Equally important for the Atlas investment, Demas added, is that the company is aligned with Macquarie’s next phase energy transition thesis in the US – in this case hydrogen. 

“In this application, green hydrogen will be used as a feedstock rather than as an energy carrier, and the end-product of green fertilizer will attract customers looking to enter into long-term offtake contracts,” he said.

Through the development of plants in Washington state and the US Midwest, Atlas Agro is seeking to take advantage of favorable logistics to displace the need for imported fossil-fuel based fertilizer. Brazil also imports around 95% of its nitrogen fertilizers, according to Atlas.

“An important benefit of Atlas Agro’s model is the availability of locally produced, high-quality fertilizer, eliminating many of the issues associated with international supply chains,” Demas said, noting that offtakers are local to Atlas Agro’s operations.

Further, Macquarie and Atlas plan to pursue a project finance model for funding the projects under development.

“As an infrastructure investor, we focus on opportunities that are bankable, which means, ultimately project financeable,” Demas said. “We backed Atlas Agro because we believe their approach to project development, commercialization, construction and operations aligns with our views on how to underwrite infrastructure investments.”

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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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