Resource logo with tagline

Exclusive: Mississippi green hydrogen developer assembling banks for debt raise

The developer of a potentially massive network of green hydrogen production, transport and salt cavern storage -- estimated to cost billions -- is seeking banks to support a project debt raise.

Hy Stor, the developer of hydrogen generation and salt cavern storage, is currently raising “billions” in project finance for the first phase of its home state hub in Mississippi, Chief Commercial Officer Claire Behar said in an interview.

The first phase is expected to enter commercial service in 2026, guided by customers, Behar said.

Connor Clark & Lunn are equity partners in the Mississippi hub and is helping Hy Stor with its debt raise. Hy Stor is working with King & Spalding as legal advisor.

“We are already seeking banks and lining up our needed debt,” Behar said. She declined to say a precise amount the company will raise but said it will be in the billions.

Hy Stor plans to soon announce their renewable development partner to build dedicated off grid renewables, Behar said. The same is true for offtake in non-intermittent 24-hour industries like steel, plastic and fertilizer manufacturing.

“The customers are willing to pay that twenty-to-thirty percent premium that the market would need,” Behar said. “The business case is there.”

When asked if traditionally carbon intensive industrial manufacturing interests were actively seeking to co-locate with Hy Stor in Mississippi, Behar said the company has been advancing those agreements and hopes to have announcements soon. 
There is evidence of this type of activity in the state. Recently American steel manufacturer Steel Dynamics announced Columbus, Mississippi as the location of its upcoming aluminum flat rolled millwith a focus on decarbonization. Job postings for engineering roles at a separate facility detail plans to convert biomass into a direct carbon replacement suitable for steelmaking. 

Hy Stor hopes to have announcements in the coming weeks about a co-location opportunity, she added. Both domestic and international strategics are interested in the geology offering co-located salt cavern storage and geography offering river and deepwater port logistics networks, as well as highway and rail corridors.

Off-grid renewable generation means the company is not at the mercy of transmission interconnection queues. It also offers reliability because the lack of grid adage helps guarantee performance, and affordability because the company doesn’t have to pay utility rates, Behar said. Additionally, the electricity is decoupled from the grid and therefore absolutely decoupled from fossil fuels, which is important to Hy Stor’s prospective offtakers.

“This is what customers are demanding,” Behar said, adding that first movers are highly dedicated to decarbonization, needing quantitative accounting for all scope emissions, driven often by pressure from their customers.

The company has received a permit to take 11,000 gallons per minute of unpotable water from the Leaf River in Mississippi, Behar said, and is also looking at in-house wastewater treatment and water recycling.

Don’t go after gray users

Behar said the concept that users of gray hydrogen are the first targets for green hydrogen developers is misguided.

“The refineries, the petrochemicals, for them hydrogen is an end product already used within their system,” Behar said. “Those are not going to be the first users that are going to pay us a premium for that zero carbon.”

Hy Stor is instead focusing on new greenfield facilities that can co-locate.

“We’ve purposefully outsized our acreage,” she said of the 70,000 acres the company has purchased outside of Jackson, Mississippi, the Mississippi River Corridor, and the state’s southern deepwater ports in Gulfport and Port Bienville. New industrial projects can co-locate and have direct access to the salt cavern storge.

Looking forward the company’s acreage and seven salt domes mean they are not constrained by storage, Behar said. At each location, the company can develop tens and hundreds of caverns.

Unlock this article

The content you are trying to view is exclusive to our subscribers.
To unlock this article:

You might also like...

Electrolyzer startup EVOLOH raises $20m Series A

The raise for California-based EVOLOH was led by Engine Ventures with participation from NextEra Energy Resources and 3M Ventures.

EVOLOH, Inc., a cleantech company that manufactures electrolyzer stacks for hydrogen production, today announced it has raised an oversubscribed $20 million Series A round led by Engine Ventures. Additional participating investors include a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources and 3M Ventures.

The capital will be used to expand the company’s scalable, high-throughput manufacturing technology and introduce additional capabilities for its NautilusTM platform of advanced liquid alkaline electrolyzers, according to a news release.

EVOLOH is making low-carbon hydrogen globally accessible by revolutionizing the manufacturing of electrolyzers. While incumbent electrolyzers are notoriously expensive and difficult to produce, transport and install, and rely on politically and environmentally challenging supply chains, EVOLOH’s manufacturing facility will offer an 80% reduction in capital investment and footprint.

“This round of funding positions EVOLOH to lead the electrolyzer manufacturing market by transforming electrolyzer stacks into affordable, efficient hardware commodities made with 100% local supply chains,” said Dr. Jimmy Rojas, founder and CEO of EVOLOH.

Electrolyzer stacks, the core component of electrolyzers, are offered via EVOLOH’s NautilusTM platform and made from abundant materials like steel, plastic and aluminum and do not require precious metals or rare earth materials. To reduce the CAPEX and OPEX of hydrogen plants using EVOLOH’s Advanced Liquid Alkaline technology, the NautilusTM stacks use low-cost power electronics and do not require corrosive electrolytes. EVOLOH’s NautilusTM stacks are very compact, and can be built into modules of 24 megawatts, making them ideal for large industrial applications.

Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner at Engine Ventures and EVOLOH Board member, added, “EVOLOH has a timely and massive opportunity to not only commercialize better and more affordable electrolyzers, but also introduce a faster and more sustainable electrolyzer manufacturing platform. With an impressive founding team and early partnership activity, EVOLOH is a strong addition to Engine Ventures’ portfolio of cleantech and advanced manufacturing companies.”

Read More »

NOVA Infra and Nopetro Energy form new RNG and biofuels JV

Nopetro Renewables, a newly formed company, will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach.

NOVA Infrastructure, a middle-market infrastructure investment firm, has partnered with Nopetro Energy to create a renewable energy platform focused on renewable natural gas and biofuels, according to a news release.

Nopetro Renewables will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach. In addition to investing in the newly formed Nopetro Renewables’ platform, NOVA also has made an equity investment in Nopetro Energy.

“Our new platform, Nopetro Renewables, seeks to build and operate renewable energy infrastructure, starting with a shovel-ready landfill-gas-to-RNG project in Vero Beach,” Chris Beall, founder and managing partner of NOVA Infrastructure, said in the release.

Nopetro was founded in 2007 with the goal of displacing petroleum consumption with a cleaner, cost-effective and domestic natural gas fuel. Led by Jorge Herrera, the company has developed a strong reputation in the US southeast and currently operates 16 CNG fueling facilities where it serves government, waste, and industrial customers.

In July 2022, NOVA announced the close of its $565m Infrastructure Fund I, which attracted commitments from a diverse group of leading North American and global institutional investors including public and private pension funds, insurance companies, family offices and asset managers.

NOVA’s investment in Nopetro marks its seventh platform investment as part of Fund I and is a continuation of its strategy of targeting middle-market providers across the infrastructure landscape.

Read More »

Mitsui investment arm appoints US-based CEO

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has appointed a California-based CEO of its investment arm to oversee a $100m budget for investment in climate tech. The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments.

MOL Switch, a recently established investment arm of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, has appointed Tomoaki Ichida as CEO.

Ichida has held the position of executive officer at Mitsui O.S.K. Lines since April of last year, and was promoted to managing executive officer in conjunction with his appointment as CEO of the investment arm, according to a LinkedIn post.

MOL Switch was established earlier this year to invest in startups developing decarbonizing technologies in the energy sector. MOL Switch will invest $100m in total over the next three years.

Ichida is based in Palo Alto, California, according to LinkedIn.

MOL Switch aims to access innovation, build new networks, explore new business opportunities, and expand human capital by investing in startups developing technologies and business models that help decarbonize our group companies and society, according to a news release. MOL Switch will invest in technologies related to next-generation clean energy, carbon removal, and battery storage.

The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments, according to a presentation.

MOL Clean Energy, US, a subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, earlier this year became a JV shareholder in Ascension Clean Energy, a proposed world-scale, clean hydrogen-ammonia production and export facility in Ascension Parish.

The MOL Switch venture capital strategy mirrors its Japanese counterpart, JERA, which earlier this year launched JERA Ventures to invest $300m in start-up companies that have leading-edge technologies or business concepts and in venture capital funds that have close connections to such companies.

Read More »

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.

Read More »
exclusive

Canadian renewables major eyeing hydrogen production at pumped hydro facility

Canadian power generation giant TransAlta could co-locate hydrogen production with select wind and hydroelectric facilities.

TransAlta, the Canadian power generator and wholesale marketing company, is contemplating a buildout of hydrogen production capabilities at its 320 MW Tent Mountain pumped hydro storage project in Alberta, Executive Vice President of Alberta Business Blain van Melle said in an interview.

“Our view on hydrogen is that it’s a technology that’s an option, somewhat further out in the future, particularly when it comes to power generation,” van Melle said. “If we can offer our customers maybe a power and hydrogen solution, and they’re using the hydrogen in another process, that would be something we would look at.”

In early 2022 TransAlta made a CAD 2m equity investment in Ekona Power, a methane pyrolysis company based in Vancouver. The company also committed USD $25m over four years to EIP’s Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund 1.

That latter investment is a way to continue to learn about hydrogen and have exposure to emerging technologies, van Melle said.

The recent 50% stake acquisition in the Tent Mountain project includes the intellectual property associated with a 100 MW offsite green hydrogen electrolyzer and a 100 MW offsite wind development project.

Having hydrogen production co-located with wind and pumped hydro storage could make sense for the company in a few years, van Melle said. FID on Tent Mountain could be reached sometime in 2025 and will require the company to secure a PPA offtake and determine capital cost. Development work will take three to four years and earliest construction could begin in 2026.

The company has not had discussions with potential offtakers, van Melle said, adding that development on the pumped hydro facility needs to mature before a hydrogen component advances.

Read More »
exclusive

Siemens Energy NA executive priming for scale in hydrogen

The North American wing of the global technology company is in the earliest stages of engaging EPC providers and economic development officials for its next US electrolyzer manufacturing site, Richard Voorberg, president of Siemens Energy North America, said in an interview.

To say the demand for electrolyzer capacity has grown exponentially in 2022 comes across as an understatement, as customers in industry and energy have increased their orders multiple times over.

Siemens Energy North America’s electrolyzer – which is 18 MW and among the largest in the market – was too large for many customers just a year ago, Richard Voorberg, president of Siemens Energy North America, said in an interview. But following passage of the IRA, the question became how many the customer could get – and how fast.

“How quickly can I get 100 of your electrolyzers?” Voorberg said he hears now, whereas before that same customer might have asked for half an electrolyzer.

The decision to make an electrolyzer as large as 18 MW was part of the company’s strategy to have bigger capacity as the market for hydrogen expanded, Voorberg said.

HIF Global recently said it has tapped Siemens Energy to engineer and design their proprietary “Silyzer 300” electrolyzers to produce approximately 300,000 tons per year of green hydrogen at an eFuels facility in Texas.

Siemens Energy NA is now in the earliest stages of developing a new electrolyzer manufacturing plant in the United States, as previously reported by ReSource.

The US plant will be similar to the plant Siemens Energy is building in Berlin, and won’t be built until after Berlin is completed, Voorberg said.

The company is actively engaging with state economic development committees to scout locations, incentives and labor supplies. It is also in the early stages of engaging engineers, EPC providers and other development partners, Voorberg said.

“We also need to decide in the next few months what we want to do in-house, with our own shops, versus what we want to outsource,” Voorberg said.

North Carolina, Houston, Alabama and upstate New York are all in Siemens Energy’s existing footprint and are as such strong contenders for the new facility, Voorberg said, though nothing is set in stone as far as location. The company would finance the facility within its normal capex expenses within a year.

In electrolyzer manufacturing there is some “test hydrogen” that is produced, so there will be a need to find some small offtaker for that, Voorberg said. The company could also use it to supply its own fork-trucks in the future.

Open to acquisitions

Diving into an acquisition of another electrolyzer manufacturer probably would not make sense for Siemens Energy, Voorberg said. But the company is open to M&A.

He cited the acquisition of Airfoil Components in Florida as the type of deal that the company could move on again. In that case, the target company had expertise in casting that was easier to acquire than build from scratch.

“Does that make more sense that we buy it, that we outsource it, or should we be doing something like that ourselves?” Voorberg said are questions he often asks.

“When it comes to less complicated things, like a commodity market, that’s not something we play well in or need to play well in,” Voorberg said. “When it comes to a specialty design-type product, that’s where we at Siemens Energy shine.”

Right now, the Siemens Energy parent company has a bid out to acquire the third of Siemens Gamesa, the Spanish-listed wind engineering company, that it does not own, Voorberg noted.

Start-up opportunity

Siemens Energy, through its in-house venture capital group and partnerships with US universities, is interested in helping technology startups scale, Voorberg said.

“We can play in between them and the customers and do the introductions and potentially even partner in with some of our technology,” he said.

The company keeps close relationships with incubators at Georgia Tech and the University of Central Florida, among others, Voorberg said.

Equity investments will be made through the VC group, Voorberg said, noting that effort as one that is strategic in growing the energy transition, rather than financial.

Additional non-equity partnerships, similar to the fellowship with the Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy, are on the table as well.

Read More »

Welcome Back

Get Started

Sign up for a free 15-day trial and get the latest clean fuels news in your inbox.