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Gevo: equity investors for SAF plant standing by

Gevo executives said equity investors are standing by to finance its proposed alcohol-to-jet facility in Preston, South Dakota, pending finalization of a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Equity investors are standing by for Gevo’s Net-Zero 1 alcohol-to-jet fuel facility to reach terms on a DOE loan guarantee that would help finance construction of the plant in Preston, South Dakota.

Colorado-base Gevo is working with the DOE and independent experts to structure the guarantee, and once terms are finalized, the company will “ramp up the third-party equity capital raise and work towards a close of funding necessary to finance the project construction budget and all the project finance elements such as interest during construction, various reserves, and transaction costs,” Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber said on an earnings call last week.

“Equity investors are standing by for a clear line of sight to the debt terms, which is underway and will be announced when the DOE term sheet is agreed,” he said.

Gruber said the company plans to spend between $125m and $175m of additional capital to reach FID on the project, in addition to over $100m already spent. He added that the capital from Gevo will be reimbursable upon FID, but that the company would likely reinvest that money to take a big chunk of the equity in the project.

Gevo expects that Net-Zero 1 would have the capability to produce approximately 60 million gallons per year (MGPY) of liquid hydrocarbons in the form of jet fuel and renewable gasoline, using corn as feedstock. It plans to use green hydrogen produced onsite as well as CCS that flows out through the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline. Executives at the company have previously said the Net-Zeto 1 project would not work if the Summit pipeline is not built.

The company is partnered with Zero6, a Minneapolis-based renewables developer, which in February 2024 launched a process to raise $340m in project capital for its portion of the project: 20 MW of green hydrogen production adjacent to Net-Zero 1 powered by a 99 MW wind farm located 10 miles from the SAF site.

Gruber, citing a report from McKinsey, emphasized that the alcohol-to-jet pathway is the cheapest form of carbon abatement, at about $450 per ton of carbon abated, compared to the next-cheapest HEFA process fuels at between $600 – $700 per ton (all before federal and state incentives).

Publicly listed Gevo in February received notice it was not in compliance with NASDAQ listing requirements as its stock price has remained below $1 for 30 consecutive business days.

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H2 Green Steel raising debt and equity for hydrogen-powered steel plant

H2 Green Steel has received support from multiple European financial institutions for its EUR 3.5bn debt financing and will build a green steel plant through a combination of equity and debt.

H2 Green Steel has received support from multiple European financial institutions for its EUR 3.5bn debt financing and will finance the construction of a green steel plant through a combination of equity and debt, according to a news release.

Conditional commitment letters for EUR 3.3bn in senior debt have been secured from AB Svensk Exportkredit and the commercial banks BNP Paribas, ING, UniCredit, Societe Generale and KfW IPEX-Bank.

Societe Generale is acting as lead financial advisor on senior and junior debt facilities. KfW IPEX-Bank is acting as joint financial advisor on a senior debt facility. BNP Paribas, ING and UniCredit are acting market, documentation and technical banks, respectively.

The money supports the company’s hydrogen-powered green steel plant in Northern Sweden through debt and credit guarantees.

The European Investment Bank has received board approval for EUR 750m of senior debt funding for the project as well, while eading export credit agencies, including Euler Hermes, have issued letters of intent to provide export credit-linked guarantees of EUR 1.5bn of H2 Green Steel’s intended senior debt.

The Swedish National Debt Office has issued a letter of intent to provide a green credit guarantee of EUR 1bn of H2 Green Steel’s senior debt.

H2 Green Steel has executed a conditional commitment letter with a leading infrastructure fund comprising large Nordic investors in connection with their lead participation in a circa EUR 500m junior debt facility.

This milestone has been enabled by a due diligence process that was initiated in 4Q21.

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World Energy GH2 inks $95m credit facility with Canadian export agency

The project in Newfoundland and Labrador has signed a $95m credit facility with Export Development Canada to support a green ammonia project through financial close.

Export Development Canada (EDC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, and World Energy GH2 have signed definitive agreements in connection with a CA$128M ($95M) credit facility to support the development of Project Nujio’qonik through to its financial close of its longterm financing, according to a news release.

The credit facility will help finance the build out of clean power generation and clean hydrogen production that will advance Canada’s efforts and initiatives in pursuit of global decarbonization.

The agreement demonstrates Canada’s continuing material support of the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance signed between the two countries at Project Nujio’qonik’s site in Stephenville, NL, in August 2022, and provides leadership for renewable green energy to be generated and exported to markets in Germany, Europe and around the world, as well as for domestic consumption.

Once complete, Project Nujio’qonik will produce ~210,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year (1.2 million tonnes of green ammonia) with the first phase expected to produce ~400,000 tonnes of green ammonia for export.

Project Nujio’qonik’s green hydrogen and ammonia will be RFNBO-compliant (renewable fuels of non-biological origin), and will meet Europe’s criteria for green hydrogen. Project Nujio’qonik’s first phase will create approximately 2,200 direct construction jobs, 400 operations jobs, and 4,200 indirect jobs.

RBC Capital Markets and Green Giraffe Advisory are acting as financial advisors for the credit facility on behalf of World Energy GH2. McCarthy Tétrault and McInnes Cooper are acting as legal advisors to World Energy GH2. Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and Stewart McKelvey are acting as legal advisors on the transaction.

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Australia’s Frontier Energy appoints MD with hydrogen background

Sam Lee Mohan will help Frontier as it transitions into the next phase of a project in Western Australia.

Australia-based Frontier Energy Limited has appointed Sam Lee Mohan as managing director.

According to a company press release, Lee Mohan has been appointed at a critical stage in Frontier’s evolution, as it transitions through the next stage of development at its 100% owned Bristol Springs Green Hydrogen Project.

During the next 12 months this includes the next level of study work, offtake, project financing and the commencement of construction.

Lee Mohan has over 20 years’ experience in the energy and utilities industry. His previous senior management positions include Global Head of Hydrogen of Xodus Group, a subsidiary of Subsea 7, where he developed and led the company’s overall hydrogen strategy. In this role, he also conceptualized the company’s largest hydrogen project, Project MercurHy.

Prior to Xodus Group, Lee Mohan spent six years at ATCO, where he was instrumental in developing the company’s hydrogen strategy, including the conceptualization, design and construction of Australia’s first, green hydrogen Microgrid, the Clean Energy Innovation Hub.

The Bristol Springs Green Hydrogen Project is located 120km from Perth in Western Australia. The company recently completed a pre-feasibility study that outlined the Project’s potential to be both an earlier mover and one of the lowest cost  green hydrogen assets in Australia, according to the company.

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Pharma and fuels tech provider could be ready for public listing

International biotechnology firm Insilico Medicine is applying the algorithms that produce novel drugs to synthesizing more sustainable petrochemical fuels and materials.

Insilico Medicine, a global biotechnology firm serving the pharmaceutical and carbon-based energy industries, could be ready for a public listing in the next phase of its corporate evolution.

Insilico, founded in Baltimore and now based in Hong Kong, has raised about $400m in private capital to date and is in the position of a company that would be exploring a public listing in the US and Hong Kong, CEO Alex Zhavoronkov said in an interview. He declined to say if he has hired a financial advisor to run such a process but said a similar company in his position would have.

The generative AI platform that the company uses to produce novel drugs can be applied to produce more sustainable carbon-based fuels, Zhavoronkov said. The objective is to maximize btu and minimize CO2, making the fuels burn longer and cleaner.

Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco is a user of the technology and participated in Insilico’s $95m Series D (oversubscribed and split between two sub-rounds) last year through its investment arm Prosperity7.

Petrochemistry is going to be needed well into the future, Zhavoronkov said. In addition to renewable energy and other ESG efforts, the efficiency of petrochemicals should be a top priority.

“If you burn certain petrochemicals in certain combinations, you can achieve a reasonably clean burn and an energy efficient burn,” he said. For specific tasks like space travel or Formula 1 racing, combined fuels produce the necessary torque, and generative chemistry can achieve those objectives in a more sustainable way. “I think that we can make the world significantly cleaner just by modifying petrochemical products.”

The technology can also be used to make organic matter in petrochemical products degrade more quickly, which is useful in the case of plastics, Zhavoronkov said.

The company’s AI is primarily based in Montreal and in the drug discovery business in China, but fuel research takes place in Abu Dhabi. Zhavoronkov said he has hired a lot of “AI refugees” from Russia and Ukraine to work at the latter location. The company has 40 employees in the UAE and will likely scale to 70.

Insilico is capitalized for the next two years or so, he said. That doesn’t account for revenue, which closed at just under $30m in 2022. The petrochemical and materials business is under the AI research arm of the business, which is covered by funds raised to date.

“Our board would probably not allow me to reinvent myself as an energy play,” Zhavoronkov said. But the board does not object to applying resources to petrochemical products.

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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.

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IPP retains banker for California plant sale

An independent power producer has retained a banker for a sale of a decades-old gas plant in California. Aging gas plants have been in the sights of clean fuels developers looking to retrofit or use facilities for clean fuel production and combustion.

GenOn, an independent power producer, has hired Solomon Partners to sell a 54 MW gas plant in California, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The plant, Ellwood, is located in Goleta, in Santa Barbara County, and was shuttered and retired by GenOn as of 2019. It reached COD in 1973 and ran two Pratt & Whitney FT4C-1 gas turbine engines.

Ellwood previously interconnected via Southern California Edison, a utility that is pursuing multiple natural gas decarbonization projects, including a hydrogen-blending initiative with Bloom Energy.

A teaser for the sale of Ellwood, which was issued last week, notes there is an opportunity to install a battery energy storage system at the site, one of the sources added.

Elsewhere in California, investment firm Climate Adaptive Infrastructure and developer Meridian Clean Energy are seeking to demonstrate decarbonization in peaker plants at the much newer gas-fired Sentinel Energy Center. Their plans include hydrogen blending.

GenOn declined to comment. Solomon Partners did not respond to requests for comment.

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