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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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Canadian hydrogen-as-a-service developer signs trucking offtake MoUs

Hydra Energy has signed detailed MoUs with eight new commercial truck fleets operating in British Columbia, and continues to pursue equity and debt capital supporting a refueling station and hydrogen corridor.

Canadian hydrogen-as-a-Service developer Hydra Energy has achieved another significant milestone in its Prince George, British Columbia project rollout by signing detailed MOUs with eight new commercial truck fleets in the region.

This represents 82 Class 8 trucks to be retrofitted using Hydra’s proprietary hydrogen-diesel, co-combustion conversion technology, according to a news release.

Once converted by Hydra installation partner, First Truck Centre, these trucks will refuel at the world’s largest hydrogen refuelling station Hydra is currently building in Prince George to be operational in 2024 which leverages green hydrogen produced on site by two 5 MW electrolysers powered with hydroelectricity.

These new fleet commitments and supporting hydrogen infrastructure from Hydra will make this the largest commercial deployment of hydrogen-diesel co-combustion transportation vehicles in the world as Hydra continues to fast track emissions reductions in the hard-to-abate trucking sector.

Hydra continues to work on the closing of a CAD 14m equity capital raise with several parties interested, with proceeds supporting the development of the Prince George project, a Hydra spokesperson said in response to inquiries.

The equity portion of the financing is needed to unlock an additional CAD 150m debt facility to complete initial scale-up of the company’s planned hydrogen corridor along Highway 16 in Western Canada, Hydra Energy CEO Jessica Verhagen told ReSource last year.

“Upon signing our first commercial fleet customer in Prince George and breaking ground on our local refuelling station last year, we had an initial goal to secure 65 heavy-duty trucks to leverage the new station once operational next year. We’re pleased to surpass this target with the signing of these eight fleets highlighting the continued interest in hydrogen trucking and the benefits it delivers for fleets of all sizes, even with heavy payloads in challenging weather and road conditions like those found in Northern B.C.,” Verhagen said in today’s release. “Securing immediate offtakers for our station’s low-carbon hydrogen is another critical piece in our Prince George HaaS blueprint illustrating to potential investors and licensees how hydrogen supply and demand can profitably come together. We look forward to working with First Truck Centre to start converting these trucks about six months prior to our station’s opening and to continuing to work with the City of Prince George as the flagship stop in the Western Canadian Hydrogen Corridor we’re building between the B.C. Coast and Edmonton.”

The eight companies who have signed MOUs represent a range of fleet sizes and types of heavy-duty trucks highlighting the cost effectiveness of Hydra’s HaaS business model and the platform agnostic nature of the company’s dual-fuel conversion technology. For example, Arrow Transportation Systems is a leader in bulk commodity hauling, reload operations, and freight management serving North America and according to Jacob Adams, their Manager of Optimization and Sustainability, “is excited about the potential opportunity to collaborate with Hydra on hydrogen-converted trucks.”

Added Annie Horning, CEO of Excel Transportation, a Prince George-based transport and logistic service company for the forestry industry who also signed an MOU, “Once we heard about the progress Hydra has been making on their hydrogen refuelling station right in our own backyard, the fact their hydrogen wouldn’t cost us more than diesel, and that it would cost nothing to retrofit our trucks to run cleaner and more efficiently, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity. Hydra allows us to make a positive difference sooner than later while eliminating our range anxiety concerns that could impact our service reliability.”

Hydra’s Service Delivery Lead, Ilya Radetski, elaborated, “In addition to Arrow and Excel, we also signed MOUs with Edgewater Holdings, Wilson Bros. Enterprises, Burke Purdon Enterprises, Godsoe Contracting, Keis Trucking, and Peace Valley Industries who all service the Prince George and Northern B.C. region. We also continue to have ongoing discussions with additional local fleets who are keen to explore how hydrogen can benefit them. These contracted offtakers now complete the final piece of our initial HaaS regional model which, as mentioned, also includes an installation partner, hydrogen production, and then the hydrogen refuelling station. This forms an easily reproducible template for licensing companies along the hydrogen value chain who want to see their hydrogen supply or infrastructure come to market at scale in the most profitable way possible, in Canada and beyond.”

“Hydra is an example of a company that tailors their solution to this region instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. Their technology can work in the cold and doesn’t affect payload or power. We continue to watch their exciting progress locally and support their efforts in helping Prince George diversify its economy and improve air quality,” added Prince George Mayor, Simon Yu.

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EU innovation fund contributes to two RWE projects

The FUREC project in the Netherlands and an offshore wind farm in Germany are among a total of 17 projects selected by the EU Innovation Fund for the preparation of grant agreements.

German multinational RWE is involved in two hydrogen projects that have been pre-selected for funding by the EU Innovation Fund, according to a press release. The FUREC project in the Netherlands and an offshore wind farm in Germany are among a total of 17 projects selected by the EU Innovation Fund for the preparation of grant agreements.

RWE wants to produce hydrogen for the chemical industry. Household waste from Limburg in the Netherlands is to replace natural gas. The FUREC project includes a plant under construction in Limburg to process household waste into pellets, to then be converted into hydrogen in a separate plant in Limburg’s Chemelot industrial park.

Nordsee Two is majority owned by RWE (51%) and minority by Canadian partner Northland Power (49%). A planned 433 MW wind farm off the German coast is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2026. The partners aim to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of producing hydrogen at sea. An electrolyser is planned to be integrated into the offshore wind farm for the production of green hydrogen for vessel fueling and to supply emergency power to the offshore substation.

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Utah green hydrogen project gets US DOE loan guarantee

DOE’s loan is its first in more than ten years for a renewable energy project.

Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development have closed on a $504.4m loan guarantee from U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office to Advanced Clean Energy Storage I, LLC to develop the world’s largest industrial green hydrogen facility in central Utah.

DOE’s loan is its first in more than ten years for a renewable energy project, according to a news release.

In April 2022, DOE’s Loan Programs Office issued a conditional commitment for ACES I. The loan closed on June 3, 2022, highlighting the Administration and the Energy Department’s commitment towards supporting the clean hydrogen sector. This loan helps generate a viable market for hydrogen and will make it scalable in the western United States and electrical grid, creating the fundamental infrastructure necessary to deploy this zero-carbon energy source, the release states.

The Advanced Clean Energy Storage hub will help the clean energy transition by supporting the Intermountain Power Agency’s IPP Renewed Project — upgrading to an 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant. The plant will initially run on a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas starting in 2025 and incrementally expand to 100% green hydrogen by 2045.

The hub will produce up to 100 metric tonnes per day of green hydrogen from renewable energy using electrolysis. Green hydrogen can then be stored in two massive salt caverns, each capable of storing 150 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy, resulting in the world’s single largest hydrogen storage site and providing capabilities for seasonal shifting of excess renewable energy. The long-duration energy storage capability of the salt caverns will help improve resource adequacy and decrease costs by capturing excess renewable power when it is abundant and dispatching it back on the grid when it is needed.

“This joint venture is historic for Mitsubishi Power Americas and the future of global hydrogen deployment,” says Bill Newsom, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas. “We’re proud to partner with Magnum Development and provide the hydrogen equipment to further advance carbon-free hydrogen as a cornerstone of our future energy supply and help chart the path towards net zero.”

The development and operation of the Advanced Clean Energy Storage hub will help spur economic development locally by creating up to 400 local construction jobs throughout the 3-year construction cycle, and it will employ a projected 25 full-time operations and maintenance personnel to provide 24/7 operations and maintenance of the facility.

“Magnum Development has enjoyed a synergistic relationship with the City of Delta and Millard County since 2008,” said Craig Broussard, CEO of Magnum Development and ACES Delta. “In addition, royalties paid from our operations go to our mineral estate partner, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, to provide funding for the Utah educational system. Over the next three decades significant taxes and royalties will flow from this initial phase of green hydrogen development at our site.”

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California Resources pursuing pipeline of blue molecule projects

Through a subsidiary called Carbon TerraVault, the upstream oil and gas producer will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals.

Through its subsidiary Carbon TerraVault, California Resources Corporation will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals, Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Gould said in an interview.

Carbon TerraVault is differentiated by its nature as a CCS-as-a-service company, Gould said, as most CCS projects are owned by emitters themselves.

“We are bringing to market a solution to decarbonize other parts of the California economy,” Gould said, noting that hydrogen producers, power plants and steel and cement makers are among potential clients. “We are out across the state, working with emitters.”

Carbon TerraVault is self-mandated to return one billion tons of carbon back into the ground, first as a gas and then pressurized into liquid. Revenue comes from the federal 45Q incentive and the California LCFS and related tradeable market.

The company has a JV with Brookfield Renewable for the first 200 million tons. That JV recently formed a separate JV with Lone Cypress Energy Services for a planned blue hydrogen plant at the Elk Hills Field in Kern County.

Carbon TerraVault will provide permanent sequestration for 100,000 MTPA at the facility, and will receive an injection fee on a per ton basis, according to a December 7 presentation.

In hiring Carbon TerraVault to provide CCS as a service, LoneCypress also invited the company to invest in the production, Gould said. The JV has the right to participate in the blue hydrogen facility up to and including a majority equity stake, the presentation shows.

“You should expect to see over time as we do more and more of these that we’re going to have multiple models,” Gould said of these partnerships and financial structures. A typical model may emerge as the industry matures.

The company could repeat that effort for “many more” blue hydrogen projects in the state, Gould said. “Green [hydrogen] is a longer-term proposition that is going to be based on renewable buildout,” he said. “Blue is kind of here now.”

Target market

Carbon TerraVault estimates that California’s total CCS market opportunity is between 150 MMTPA – 210 MMTPA, and is in discussions for 8 MMTPA of CCS, of which 1 MMTPA is in advanced discussions, the presentation shows.

Through California Resources’ Elk Hills land position of 47,000 acres and CO2 sequestration reservoirs, the company could attract additional greenfield infrastructure projects like the Lone Cypress Hydrogen Project and create a Net Zero Industrial Park, according to the presentation.

In that vein, Gould noted the huge need for decarbonized ammonia in California’s central valley agriculture, which today is imported from abroad.

“There is a need for clean hydrogen in California and it is best if it is created in California,” Gould said.

The JV with Brookfield funds Carbon TerraVault’s storage needs, Gould said. Investments in the production processes, such as the deal with Lone Cypress, will likely require additional capital.

Project level financing is a “default assumption,” Gould said, though that’s not set in stone. The company is working with a financial advisor but Gould declined to name the firm.

The scale of California’s hydrogen ambitions is far beyond what any one company can do, Gould said.

“If you’re an advisor that is working with a developer likeLone Cypress that is considering locating in California, then I would say give us a ring,” Gould said. “We’re the ones who are going to be able to do the sequestration there.”

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Hydrogen developer raising equity for US and EU projects

A Washington, DC-based hydrogen developer has hired an advisor to raise equity for three projects in California, and is laying the groundwork for a second capital raise in the EU.

SGH2 Energy, a Washington D.C.-based hydrogen developer, is in the early stages of a process to raise project equity for its three California projects.

Morgan Stanley has been retained to run the process, which could result in taking on two investors, CEO Robert Do said in an interview. The company hopes to have the process wrapped up within three months, he added.

Do declined to disclose the amount he is seeking to raise, but said the company prefers a strategic investor that can co-develop projects outside of California.

Meanwhile, SGH2 has filled out 70% of the senior debt commitments it will need for its Lancaster, California plant, Do said. At the Lancaster plant, SGH2 plans to produce up to 12,000 kilograms (1,380 MMBtu) of clean hydrogen per day, and 4.5 million kilograms per year (517,000 MMBtu) from the conversion of 42,000 tons per year of rejected recycled mixed-paper waste.

An additional set of three projects in Germany, Belgium and Holland will need an equity provider as well, Do said. That process could launch at the end of this year and the company could hire additional financial advisors.

A less expensive proposition

In addition to the Lancaster plant, SGH2 is advancing a Bay Area agricultural waste-to-hydrogen project in Stockton and a Sierra Valley forest residue-to-hydrogen plant.

Lancaster has offtake agreements for 10 years, and the company is in talks with the same offtaker for the other projects.

SGH2’s process requires about five acres of land for a project, as opposed to about 300 acres for solar-powered electrolysis, Do said. The process also requires less water.

“It gives us a cost-competitiveness where we can be two-to-three times cheaper,” Do said.

SGH2 is exporting that process to Europe, Do said. The EU is still going through iterations of new legislation, particularly the Renewable Energy Directive III, that could clarify SGH2’s place in that market.

“Until the legislation is clear it’s hard to really launch the project and know what kind of support you’re getting,” Do said. SGH2 has sites, feedstock and development partners in place for Europe.

SGH2 was spun off from a technology development company that raised about $50m from various VC firms and energy companies, Do said. He is the controlling owner of SGH2.

Do plans to expand across the globe and will be raising money to fund projects in Korea, South Africa and elsewhere.

“There will be indeed opportunities for us to work with additional bankers and funders,” he said.

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Exclusive: National RNG developer in equity sale process

A large US developer and operator of renewable natural gas projects has tapped an advisor and is in the early stages of a sale process.

DTE Vantage, a developer of renewable energy projects with a national footprint in the US, is in the first round of a process to sell its RNG business, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Lazard is running the process, the sources said. First round bids were recently received.

The company’s RNG portfolio includes 13 projects, four of which are landfill-to-gas while the remainder are on dairy farms, with more under construction, according to company materials. One of the largest RNG producers in the Midwest, the company also has projects in North Carolina, California, New York, and Wisconsin.

Of note, the Riverview Energy landfill gas asset in Riverview, Michigan produces 8.6 mmcfd of pipeline natural gas and includes 6.6 MW of solar. Pinnacle Gas in Moraine, Ohio, produces 4.5 mmcfd, while Seabreeze Energy in Angleton, Texas produces 5.8 mmcfd.

DTE Vantage is a non-utility subsidiary of DTE Energy. Founded in the 1990s, it has about 600 employees and operates 64 projects in 16 US states, with one asset in Canada. The company serves industrial, agricultural, and institutional clients across three core groups: Renewable Energy, Custom Energy Solutions, and Emerging Ventures.

DTE declined to comment. Lazard did not respond to a request for comment.

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