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Exclusive: Former green hydrogen executive raising capital for fusion startup

A former executive that developed large hydrogen and ammonia projects in Texas is raising money in a new role with a fusion energy firm with ambitions to co-locate generation with heavy industry and fuels production.

Tokamak Energy, the UK-based fusion energy startup, is seeking to raise about $80m in a self-conducted Series C capital raise, President Michael Ginsberg told ReSource.

The company previously hired Bank of America to run a $1bn raise but pulled back on the process in favor of more incremental growth, Ginsberg said. The company has already raised $40m of the $120m Series C and is aiming for a close by mid-summer.

With US operations in West Virginia (where co-founder Mark Koepke is a professor of physics at WVU) and headquarters in Oxford, England, Tokamak was recently included in the US Department of Energy’s multimillion-dollar Fusion Development Program and partnered with General Atomics on advanced magnet technology.

Ginsberg previously worked as vice president of technology and project execution at Avina Clean Hydrogen, where he was instrumental in developing the Nueces Clean Ammonia project in Texas. He said Tokamak is planning to build fusion generation in the United States, but has a magnets business with a near-term return profile.

Magnets business

Tokamak is a developer of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.

They are developed for fusion to contain plasma energy, but like the semi-conductor business, they’ve had applications in other industries, such as defense, offshore wind turbines, and mineral separation.

First revenue from those magnets, from another fusion company, came in last year, he said. There are ongoing contract negotiations with the US Department of Defense and an imaging device maker that uses magnets.

Rail companies interested in maglev (from magnetic levitation) technology are also in discussions with Tokamak, he said.

Turnaround for that business for investors is expected to be three to five years, Ginsberg said.

Fusion-to-X

Tokamak is planning to develop its first commercial scale plant (COD after 2030) in the US.

Requirements for site selection are dependent on nearby capabilities; if deuterium and tritium are to be used as fuels, there needs to be a nearby facility that can handle those hydrogen-isotope fuels. For example, Oak Ride National Labs in Tennessee can handle tritium.

The other siting concern is use case.

“It could be, certainly, pumping electrons onto the grid, in which case your limited by transmission lines,” Ginsberg said. “But also, we could create industrial thermal energy, thermal heat, and co-locate with decarbonized heavy industry.”

Co-location with data centers is another option, he said. Tokamak is also exploring hydrogen production.

“Obviously you could do the traditional electrolysis process, and we’re talking to some companies that just need electrons to convert the H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, and they want baseload power to do that as opposed to intermittent power,” he said. “Also, there’s thermal energy and thermal processes to produce hydrogen that we could use from the fusion reaction.”

Ginsberg, who oversees US operations at Tokamak, was hired following the DOE award.

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Brookfield Renewable-backed LanzaTech gets UK grant for waste gas-to-SAF facility

Illinois-based LanzaTech has received a £25m UK grant for a plant that will convert waste gases into synthetic kerosene for use in sustainable aviation fuel.

LanzaTech has announced that its DRAGON facility project has received a £25m grant from the UK Department for Transport’s Advanced Fuels Fund Competition, according to a news release.

LanzaTech’s Project DRAGON, which stands for Decarbonizing and Reimagining Aviation for the Goal Of Netzero, will convert waste gases into synthetic kerosene for use in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

With the funding, Project DRAGON will complete engineering and the project development in collaboration with Fluor Corporation and Technip Energies, required to reach a final investment decision (FID) for the entire waste gas to SAF project. The proposed plant, which will be sited in Port Talbot, South Wales, is expected to produce 102 million liters per year of ATJ Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK) to be blended with kerosene to make SAF, representing ~1% of annual UK jet fuel demand and making a significant contribution towards the UK Mandate for supplying 10% of total annual jet fuel demand in the U.K. with SAF by 2030.

LanzaTech recently reached a funding partnership with Brookfield Renewable, under which Brookfield committed to invest an initial $500m in constructing and operating new carbon capture and transformation projects that have achieved certain pre-agreed milestones. Brookfield will be LanzaTech’s preferred capital partner for LanzaTech CCT opportunities in Europe and North America and following initial investments totaling $500m, Brookfield could commit to making an additional $500m available for investments in the strategic partnership if sufficient projects are available at the agreed milestones. Brookfield will also invest $50 million in LanzaTech to support further corporate development.

The company went public earlier this year in a SPAC acquisition that valued LanzaTech at an implied $1.8bn pro forma enterprise value.

“We must accelerate deployment of SAF plants in the UK,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, in this week’s news release. “We’re excited that Project DRAGON has been recognized for its potential to deliver results and create new jobs while producing the volumes of SAF greatly needed by a sector that has limited options today. I thank the UK Department for Transport for its continued support and for showing leadership in validating new technologies that can have a real impact in the UK and beyond.”

Jonathon Counsell, International Airline Group’s head of sustainability, said: “Investing in Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is one of the best opportunities our industry has to decarbonise. We’re delighted that Project Dragon has received crucial financial support in the UK from the Department for Transport Advanced Fuels Fund.”

“IAG has committed $865m in SAF purchases and investments to date, including supporting the first of its kind LanzaJet ethanol-to-jet plant being built in the US. With the right policy support to incentivise further investment, the UK could see many SAF plants built over the next decade, creating 6,500 jobs and saving over three million tonnes of CO2 per year as well as improving the UK’s energy security.”

The feedstock for the planned facility would be waste gases, including potentially from Tata Steel’s adjacent steelworks in Port Talbot. These would be transformed via LanzaTech’s gas fermentation platform to make ethanol as a feedstock for the ATJ facility. LanzaTech have selected Fluor Corporation, a leading global engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm, to provide Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) services for this part of the project. “With more than 110 years in the industry, Fluor brings world class front-end engineering and EPC firm experience to assist LanzaTech in deploying its technology,” said Jason Kraynek, president, Production & Fuels, Fluor Corporation.

In a second step the ethanol would be turned into SAF using the LanzaJet™ Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) process, which incorporates Technip Energies ‘ethanol to ethylene’ Hummingbird™ technology. This would be the world’s first commercial scale integration of Gas Fermentation (GF) and ATJ to produce SAF with GHG reductions expected to be greater than 70% relative to conventional jet fuel.

A spokesperson for Tata Steel in the UK said: “Achieving our ambition of making CO2 neutral steel involves looking at all ways to reduce our emissions, or in this case, potentially transforming some of our waste gases into useful products such as jet fuel.”

Bhaskar Patel, Technip Energies – SVP Sustainable Fuels, Chemicals and Circularity stated “We are excited to be partnering with LanzaTech™ through our teams in the UK on this journey to help decarbonize the UK aviation industry. The implementation of T.EN’s Hummingbird™ technology integrated within the LanzaJet™ ATJ process provides a ‘best in class’ technology pathway for conversion of ethanol to SAF”.

Jimmy Samartzis, CEO, LanzaJet said: “Project DRAGON will contribute roughly 10% of the entire UK Mandate for SAF by 2030. That’s significant, and government leadership like this is paving the way for emerging industries like SAF to achieve these ambitious and necessary goals. LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet technology paired with LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process is changing how we think about the circular economy across the world and driving decarbonization for aviation. We’re thrilled to be partnering with LanzaTech on this work and we’re grateful for this support from the UK Department for Transport.”

The Department for Transport’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) Competition was established to support the UK advanced fuels sector in development and commercial deployment of innovative fuel production technologies that are capable of significantly reducing near-term UK aviation emissions, strengthening the UK project pipeline, and broadening technology options.

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German hydrogen truck firm signs LOI with Ford

Several of German electric and hydrogen truck maker Quantron’s technologies will be evaluated for integration into Ford Trucks’ vehicles.

Quantron AG, a specialist in sustainable passenger and freight transport, and Ford Trucks have jointly signed a Letter of Intent (LOI).

Under the LOI, the Quantron Inside technology effective range, innovative e-axle, customized high-power battery, fuel cell and tank integration, energy-management and optimized Aerodynamics for efficiency will be evaluated for integration into Ford Trucks’ vehicles, thus enabling emission-free transport solutions.

The focus of the collaboration lies in hydrogen fuel cell-powered heavy-duty trucks, according to a news release.

Through the 1st phase of collaboration with Ford Trucks, QUANTRON ensures a seamless adaptation of Ford´s advanced trucks which will be built in compliance with the new security regulations as soon as from Q1, 2024.

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North Dakota CCS project enters final development stages

Closing on financing for Project Tundra at the coal-fired Milton R. Young Station power plant is expected in early 2024.

Minnkota Power Cooperative has solidified agreements with TC Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Kiewit to move a North Dakota carbon capture project into its final stage of development, according to a news release.

Under the arrangements, Minnkota will continue to lead development activities for “Project Tundra” at the Milton R. Young Station power plant, as well as coordination with landowners and community members in the project area near Center, N.D.

Closing on financing and the notice to move forward with construction of Project Tundra are anticipated in early 2024. The project remains subject to closing on financing and a final investment decision by each of the project entities in the consortium.

TC Energy will lead commercialization activities, including qualifying for federal 45Q tax credits. Return on project construction and operation costs would be recouped through 45Q, which provides $85 per ton of CO2 permanently stored underground.

In addition, the project participants submitted applications in May for a $350m grant through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program and a $150m loan through the state of North Dakota’s Clean Sustainable Energy Authority. The project currently has approval for a $100m CSEA loan.

Project Tundra is designed to capture up to four million metric tons of CO2 annually from the coal-based Young Station. The CO2 will be stored more than a mile underground. Minnkota currently has the largest fully permitted CO2 storage facility in the United States and is pursuing additional CO2 storage opportunities near the Young Station.

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exclusive

Aemetis capitalized for hydrogen and biofuel development plans

Aemetis CEO Eric McAfee said in an interview that the company has lined up financing to complete the $1.2bn in biogas and sustainable aviation fuel projects it has in development.

Aemetis is well capitalized to complete the $1.2bn in biogas and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) projects it has in development, CEO Eric McAfee said in an interview.

Founded by McAfee in 2006 and listed on the NASDAQ in 2014, Aemetis plans to produce more than 60 million gallons per year of SAF and capture and sequester 125,000 mtpy of carbon in 2025. This is a diversification from existing ethanol, RNG and biodiesel operations in the US and India.

The company recently released an updated five-year plan including plans to generate $2bn of revenues, $496m of net income, and $682m of adjusted EBITDA by 2027.

McAfee, noting that Aemetis is well capitalized and has locked in financing for much of its plans, said, “The only thing we really need to do is just execute.”

For example, the company closed $25m of USDA loan guarantees in October at a 6.2% interest rate, McAfee said. The company has also signed a $125m USDA commitment letter for its Riverbank Biofuels Project in California, also called CarbonZero 1, which will produce SAF.

“We’ll be expanding that relationship with [the USDA],” McAfee said. “Everything else is financed.”

The Riverbank Biofuels Project has signed offtake agreements with major airlines, and the SAF segment is expected to be the biggest contributor to Aemetis’ revenues once the project is online in 2025, according to a presentation. Renewable diesel and SAF will add $348m of revenues in 2025 and $693.3m of revenues in 2026.

For its carbon sequestration projects, referring to upgrades at the existing Keyes ethanol plant in California and other operational assets, the company has an existing $100m line of credit provided by Third Eye Capital, $50m of which remains unused, McAfee said.

Projected revenues will allow the company to self-fund without new credit facilities, McAfee said. Revenues from Aemetis’ debt-free operations in India will also be available to fund new developments.

The Riverbank SAF plant will be fully engineered and permitted this year, McAfee said. Baker Hughes and ATSI are the company’s EPC partners on the new developments.

Aemetis has no plans to divest existing operational assets but could acquire California biogas assets, McAfee said. The company regularly talks to investment bankers.

McAfee is the largest single shareholder in Aemetis. JackBlock, the former US Secretary of Agriculture, sits on the company’s board. The largest institutional shareholder is BlackRock.

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US hydrogen developer to raise $1bn in 2023

Avina Clean Hydrogen will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina Clean Hydrogen, a U.S.-based developer of hydrogen production plants, will seek to raise approximately $1bn, or possibly more, in 2023, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The company will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity, Shah said. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina is also in discussions with potential investment bankers, but has not hired anyone yet, Shah said.

“The capital needs for us are going to continue to grow,” Shah said. “We are certainly open to bringing on additional partners.”

Four development projects have offtake agreements in place, Shah said. The first operational plant will open in Southern California next year or early 2024, followed by Avina’s 700,000 mtpa green ammonia project in the Texas Gulf Coast. Additional projects are underway in the Midwest.

Three of those projects, each with offtakers in place, will reach FID in 2023 and need project debt, Shah said.

Avina is engaged with half-a-dozen potential customers and will seek to develop additional projects within that existing footprint.

Renewable energy procurement is also an important concern for Avina; the Texas project alone will require 900 MW of renewable energy to power, Shah said. The company is in offtake discussions with regional IPPs, mostly in solar and battery storage, but could use help with those agreements. Shah declined to name the firm’s legal advisor.

Avina was founded more than three years ago and is principally backed by Hydrogen Technology Ventures, a firm headed by Shah.

An equity raise was completed in early Q4, Shah said, declining to provide details. The company has a “large industrial firm” as a strategic investor that it hopes to announce soon. Looking forward, the company will look for a second strategic investor, as well as project finance.

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Exclusive: CO2-to-SAF tech firm in new capital raise

A technology company with a novel process to convert CO2 into fuels and chemicals is extending a capital raise that previously closed with inputs from several oil and airline majors.

OXCCU, the UK-based clean fuels production company, is extending a Series A raise it closed last year with an eye on growth in the US, CEO Andrew Symes told ReSource. 

The raise, characterized as a Series A2 by Symes, is being conducted in-house, he said. It builds on the GBP 18m (USD 22.7m) Series A it finished last year, led by Clean Energy Ventures.

Aramco, ENI and United Airlines are also among the company’s backers.

OXCCU, a spin out of Oxford University, plans to raise additional money to scale its catalytic process converting hydrogen and carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other products. A patent grant, filed in 2020, is anticipated this year.

“We don’t want to be the project developer, we want to license to the project developer,” Symes said of the company’s business model.

Fuel made combining carbon dioxide (captured from industry or power plants) with green or clean hydrogen will be cheaper based on OXCCU’s iron-catalyst process, Symes said, which requires one step instead of the traditional two-step process.

OXCCU is looking for partners to engage with on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) projects in the US, Symes said. This year the company will deliver a pilot plant in the US and plans to complete a 160 kilogram-per-day plant in Sheffield, UK in 2026.

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