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Fertilizer co. files application to construct clean ammonia plant

A fertilizer company today filed an application for a permit to build a clean ammonia plant in Louisiana.

PCS Nitrogen, a subsidiary of Canada-based Nutrien, today filed an application to construct a clean ammonia facility in Geismar, Louisiana.

In the filing with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Nutrien is asking for a permit “to clear, grade, excavate and deposit fill and/or aggregate material to construct and maintain a clean ammonia plant to include a river water intake structure and ship dock, a pipeline crossing over the levee, an Entergy substation, and a heavy haul road crossing the levee […]”

Nutrien said last year it was suspending work on the Geismar blue ammonia project due to higher expected capital costs of between 10 – 15% along with uncertain end-market demand.

A Nutrien representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In announcing the project in 2022, Nutrien said the project would cost approximately $2bn to build and achieve a 90% reduction of CO2 emissions. It would have begun construction in 2024 and reached commercial operations in 2027.

The company had signed a letter of intent with Mitsubishi Corporation for offtake of up to 40% of expected production from the proposed plant to deliver to the Asian fuel market, including Japan.

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CAD $20m awarded to 18 Alberta hydrogen projects

The total value of the funded projects, including matching investments for project partners, is more than CAD $200m.

The Alberta Hydrogen Centre of Excellence is awarding CAD $20m to 18 projects to advance innovations in hydrogen through its first funding competition, according to a press release.

A full list of the projects can be seen here.

One of the projects is the proposed Bremner 100% Hydrogen Community in Strathcona County, Alberta. ATCO and Qualico are studying the logistics, technology requirements and other considerations involved in developing 100% pure hydrogen communities – an step toward eliminating carbon emissions produced by hot water use.

“Other successful projects in the competition will examine the safe and effective use of pipelines for hydrogen transmission,” the release states. “Another project will look at how to convert heavy-duty long-haul trucks to dual-fuel machines. In all, projects will examine everything from production, transmission, distribution, and storage, to end-uses of hydrogen.”

A total of 68 project proposals were received. The HCOE will fund up to 50 per cent of eligible costs for the successful projects, or up to 75 per cent of eligible costs for projects led by post-secondary institutions, or those with a significant Indigenous component.

The total value of the funded projects, including matching investments for project partners, is more than CAD $200m. Projects have 24 months to complete their proposed work.

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GE and Shell partner on hydrogen fueling for gas turbines

The focus of the agreement is on hydrogen solutions for B&E class gas turbines used in LNG and power generation applications.

GE Gas Power and Shell Global Solutions have signed an agreement under which GE will develop use of 100% hydrogen as a fuel for gas turbines, according to a press release.

Focus will be on hydrogen solutions for B&E class gas turbines used in LNG and power generation applications.

“Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process is a leading technology that can deliver the lowest carbon intensity fuel of its kind,” the release states.

GE’s B&E class heavy-duty gas turbines can already operate on 100% hydrogen, emitting up to 25ppm NOx with the use of water in diffusion combustors. As part of this development agreement GE is targeting gas turbine technology with the capability to operate on 100% hydrogen without the use of water while still maintaining NOx emissions.

The new DLN combustor technology is intended to support retrofittable system solutions for low-carbon operation of gas turbines. DLN combustors are efficient and do not use water as a diluent.

The developments to the DLN combustion technology could be installed on either new or existing 6B or 7E gas turbines. This would help reduce carbon emissions in industrial applications and LNG operations, particularly where water usage is challenging.

In extreme climates the B and E Class heavy-duty gas turbines provide power and perform in many duty cycles. These turbines can use more than 50 types of fuel, including hydrogen —and can switch fuels while running under full load.

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Par Pacific to invest $90m in Hawaii renewable fuels facility

The renewable fuel facility is expected to produce approximately 61 million gallons per year of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, renewable naphtha and liquified petroleum gases.

Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. plans to invest approximately $90m to develop the state’s largest liquid renewable fuels manufacturing facility at its Kapolei refinery.

The project relies on the Kapolei refinery’s highly experienced operating team, existing tank storage and related logistics, as well as available hydrogen from current refining operations, a key requirement for low-carbon renewable fuels production. As a result, this project is expected to be completed for less than $1.50 per gallon of annual operating capacity and is expected to be commissioned in 2025. The unit can produce up to 60% sustainable aviation fuel in a first step toward decarbonizing Hawaii’s significant air travel market.

“This project represents a key milestone in our renewable fuels strategy, which supplements our conventional fuels production in Hawaii. The expansion ensures that Par Hawaii, with its high-paying local manufacturing jobs, will be the leading supplier of liquid fuels to the Hawaii economy now and into the future,” said William Pate, Par Pacific’s CEO.

In total, the renewable fuel facility is expected to produce approximately 61 million gallons per year of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable naphtha and liquified petroleum gases (LPGs). If market conditions are supportive, yield can be shifted to over 90% renewable diesel. These renewable fuels lower greenhouse gas emissions while providing reliable electricity and transportation fuels to Hawaii consumers.

“Given this project’s feedstock requirements, the state is well positioned to drive an additional major economic benefit by creating a market for locally grown oil seed crops. The creative redevelopment of a portion of our refining system is an excellent example of our team’s technical strength to deliver renewable fuel solutions that supplement our existing operations. I am very proud of the team’s contributions and look forward to continuing our efforts to diversify and decarbonize energy sources for our community,” said Eric Wright, president of Par Hawaii, Par Pacific’s local subsidiary.

The announcement coincides with Par Pacific’s authorization from the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone Board to use foreign-sourced vegetable oil to supplement locally-sourced renewable feedstocks. Par Hawaii is working with Hawaii-based Pono Pacific in the planting of camelina crops to test the suitability of that oil seed for state production. Par Pacific is committed to supporting the state agricultural sector in the development of oil seed crops to support decarbonization of the local economy.

In 2022, Par Pacific and Hawaiian Airlines, the largest air carrier in the state, announced a joint feasibility study to explore ways to make sustainable aviation fuel commercially viable. Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in our shared efforts to produce renewable fuels in Hawaii. The companies look forward to engaging with stakeholders across the community to advance policies which enable the use of renewable fuels in Hawaii.

Par Pacific also is assessing development opportunities at the former Chevron refinery location in Kapolei, near its current operations, including projects that would further support the state’s efforts to decarbonize its electrical grid.

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Exclusive: Renewable fuels firm hires advisor for topco raise

A renewable fuels firm with operations in California has hired a bulge bracket bank to raise project and platform capital for new developments in the Gulf Coast.

Oberon Fuels, a California-based renewable fuels developer, has hired Morgan Stanley for a topco and project capital raise to launch soon, CEO Rebecca Bordreaux said in an interview.

The company, backed by Suburban Propane, plans to reach COD on its next facility in the Gulf Coast in 2026, Boudreaux said. Late last year the company hired its first CFO Ann Anthony and COO Derek Winkel.

Oberon produces rDME at its Maverick Innovation Center in Brawley, California and recently established a partnership with DCC Fuels focused on Europe.

The location of the Gulf Coast facility is not public, Bordreaux said, though the company aims to reach FID on it this year. When operational it would produce 45,000 mtpy of methanol, or a comparative amount of rDME. Capex on the facility is in the range of $200m.

The company is shifting toward production of methanol as a shipping fuel, she said. New opportunities also include using DME as a renewable hydrogen carrier, as the fuel is easily transportable and compatible with many existing logistical networks.

Oberon is also preparing to issue $100m of municipal bonds from the state of Texas, Bordreaux said.

More than $50m has been raised by the company to date, with Suburban Propane being the largest investor and customer in California, Bordreaux said. The company has a third project in the pre-FEED phase.

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Carbon credit project developer planning equity raise

A Texas-based carbon credit firm is preparing to sell credits from its first project in the US southeast and planning its first equity raise in 2024.

Sky Harvest Carbon, the Dallas-based carbon credit project developer, is preparing to sell credits from its first project, roughly 30,000 acres of forest in the southeastern US, while looking toward its first equity raise in 2024, CEO and founder Will Clayton said in an interview.

In late 2024 the company will seek to raise between $5m and $10m in topco equity, depending on the outcome of grant applications, Clayton said. The company is represented by Scott Douglass & McConnico in Austin, Texas and does not have a relationship with a financial advisor.

Sky Harvest considers itself a project developer, using existing liquidity to pay landowners on the backend for timber rights, then selling credits based on the volume and age of the trees for $20 to $50 per credit (standardized as 1 mtpy of carbon).

The company will sell some 45,000 credits from its pilot project — comprised of acreage across Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi – in 2024, Clayton said. The project involves 20 landowners.

Clayton, formerly chief of staff at North Carolina-based renewables and P2X developer Strata Clean Energy, owns a controlling stake in Sky Harvest Carbon. He said he’s self-funded operations to date, in part with private debt. The company is also applying for a multi-million-dollar grant based on working with small and underrepresented landowners.

“There’s a wall of demand… that’s coming against a supply constraint,” Clayton said of companies wanting to buy credits to meet carbon reduction goals.

Sky Harvest would be interested in working with companies wanting to secure supply or credits before price spikes, or investors wanting to acquire the credits as an asset prior to price spikes, Clayton said.

“Anybody who wants to go long on carbon, either as an investment thesis or for the climate benefits to offset operational footprint, it’s a great way to do it by locking supply at a low cost,” he said.

A novel approach to credit definition

Carbon credits on the open market vary widely in verifications standards and price; they can cost anywhere from $1 to $2,000.

“There’s a long process for all the measurements and verifications,” Clayton said.

There are many forestry carbon developers paying landowners for environmental benefits and selling those credits. Where Sky Harvest is unique is its attempt to redefine the carbon credit, Clayton said.

The typical definition of 1 mtpy of CO2 is problematic, as it does not gauge for duration of storage, he said. Carbon emitted into the atmosphere can stay there indefinitely.

“If you’re storing carbon for 10, 20, 30 years, the scales don’t balance,” Clayton said. “That equation breaks and it’s not truly an offset.”

Sky Harvest is quantifying the value of carbon over time by equating volume with duration, Clayton said.

“If you have one ton of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere forever on one side of the scale, you need multiple tons of carbon dioxide stored on the other side of the scale if it’s for any time period other than forever,” he said, noting that credit providers often cannot guarantee that the protected trees will never be harvested. Sky Harvest inputs more than 1 ton per credit, measured in periods of five years guaranteed storage at a time. “We compensate for the fact that it’s not going to be stored there forever.”

Monitoring protected land is expensive and often difficult to sustain. Carbon markets work much like conservation easements, but those easements often lose effect over time as oversight diminishes (typically because of staffing or funding shortages at the often nonprofit groups charged with monitoring).

“That doesn’t work in any other industry with real physical commodities,” Clayton said. “The way every other industry works is you pay a fund delivery. That’s our measure-as-you-go approach.”

A similar methodology has been put forward by the United Nations and has been adopted in Quebec, Clayton said.

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Biomass-to-hydrogen developer in talks for development capital, series A

A California developer that uses woody biomass to make green hydrogen is in discussions to raise capital for project development and a series A funding round.

Yosemite Clean Energy, a California-based biomass-to-hydrogen start-up, is in discussions with potential investors to raise development capital for projects and a series A round.

The company is currently seeking around $20m of development capital that would help advance woody biomass-to-hydrogen projects to FID, CEO Tom Hobby said in an interview.

Hobby said he is also in discussions with strategic capital partners about a series A funding round. The company is not using an advisor for the capital raise, Hobby said, but is working with the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

The company has so far raised less than $2m at the corporate level from friends and family and an additional $5m – including grants – for projects, Hobby added. The development capital as well as the series A raise would be conducted at the project level.

Yosemite has signed a letter of intent and term sheet for offtake from its first project in Oroville, California, which will produce approximately 24,000 kg per day (2,760 MMBtu) of green hydrogen from woody biomass, and is set for FID later this year. Hobby declined to name the offtaker but described it as a “global trading house.”

Hobby, whose family has lived in the Sierra Nevada for generations, emphasizes the company’s role as a partner with local communities to help manage forest waste, which has served as fuel for explosive wildfires in recent years.

“It’s de-risking their communities from catastrophic wildfires,” he said.

Design incentives

Under the original design for the Oroville facility, the company had planned to produce 31,000 kg per day of RNG and 12,200 kg per day of green hydrogen. But due to incentives for green hydrogen in the Inflation Reduction Act, the company has pivoted to a hydrogen-only design, Hobby said.

The $3/kg incentive for green hydrogen in the IRA created “additional value for no real capital cost differential,” he said.

Yosemite’s second project is in Toulumne County, California and will follow a design substantially similar to the Oroville facility.

The company employs dual-bed gasification technology licensed from Austrian firm Repotec, while Primoris is doing detailed design and engineering.

The technology takes wood and creates a medium-strength BTU gas that can be used to make different products, Hobby said. “Once it’s in a gaseous form, we can use it for a lot of purposes: we can take it to make power, we can produce hydrogen, we can use the Fischer-Tropsch process to make second-generation biofuels like aviation fuel, and we have a patent that can do hydrogen and RNG.”

Project ownership

Meanwhile, Yosemite has hired a Texas-based firm to help raise capital for projects, which are estimated to cost $250m at the outset, but could decline once efficiencies are achieved, Hobby said.

The company’s project ownership model is unique in that it seeks to bring in local wood businesses – in logging, land clearing, and orchard removal – as providers of biomass and also equity investors in the projects.

“To have their investment and their wood at the same time is huge,” Hobby said.

In raising capital for the projects, in addition to equity and debt investors, Yosemite is evaluating a mix of sources in the tax-exempt bond market as well as lower-interest loans from within California and export finance solutions. The company recently received two $500,000 Forest Biomass to Carbon-Negative Biofuels grants from the California Department of Conservation.

Hobby would like to build 50 woody biomass plants in California, which would utilize approximately 5 million tons of the 35 million tons of waste woody biomass available annually in the state.

“Our goal is not to have to truck and ship wood more than 50 miles,” he said. “If you put circles around every place in California that’s a decent wood basket […] I think we could sign about 50 facilities across the state.”

The company is also planning to expand beyond California to other states with a low-carbon fuel standard, Hobby said.

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