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GHI assessing ABB technology for Hydrogen City

GHI has signed an MoU to assess ABB's automation and electrification technology for deployment at the South Texas Hydrogen City green hydrogen project.

ABB is collaborating with Green Hydrogen International (GHI) on a project to develop a major green hydrogen facility in south Texas, United States.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding ABB’s automation, electrification and digital technology will be assessed for deployment at GHI’s Hydrogen City project, according to a news release.

The Power-to-X facility will use solar and onshore wind energy to power a 2.2 GW electrolyzer plant to produce 280,000 tons of green hydrogen per year, which will be turned into one million tons of green ammonia annually.

ABB has already completed a feasibility study to develop an electrical system architecture that optimizes return on investment for the project and supports compliance with EU legislation governing Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origin (RFNBO)2 and the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). ABB plans to supply its Integrated Control Safety System with the distributed control system ABB Ability™ System 800xA® to improve efficiency, operator performance and asset utilization.

MoU scope also includes electrical motors and drives, measurement and analytics solutions, and power and process optimization solutions.

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BlackRock investing $550m in Occidental DAC facility

BlackRock is investing in STRATOS, a DAC facility being developed by Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive.

Occidental said today that BlackRock will invest $550m on behalf of clients in the development of STRATOS, a direct air capture (DAC) facility, in Ector County, Texas.

Through a fund managed by its Diversified Infrastructure business, BlackRock has signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with Occidental through its subsidiary 1PointFive that will own STRATOS.

STRATOS is designed to capture up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.  Construction activities for STRATOS are approximately 30 percent complete and the facility is expected to be commercially operational in mid-2025. The project is expected to employ more than 1,000 people during the construction phase and up to 75 once operational.

“We are excited to partner with BlackRock on this transformative facility that will provide a solution to help the world reach net zero,” said Vicki Hollub, president and CEO, Occidental. “This joint venture demonstrates that Direct Air Capture is becoming an investable technology and BlackRock’s commitment in STRATOS underscores its importance and potential for the world. We believe that BlackRock’s expertise across global markets and industries makes them the ideal partner to help further industrial-scale direct air capture.”

“BlackRock is proud to partner with global energy leader Occidental to help build the world’s largest direct air carbon capture facility in Texas,” said Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, BlackRock. “Occidental’s technical expertise brings unprecedented scale to this cutting-edge decarbonization technology. STRATOS represents an incredible investment opportunity for BlackRock’s clients to invest in this unique energy infrastructure project and underscores the critical role of American energy companies in climate technology innovation.”

DAC is a technology that captures and removes large volumes of CO₂ directly from the atmosphere, which can be safely and securely stored deep underground in geologic formations. STRATOS is expected to provide cost-effective solutions that companies in hard-to-decarbonize industries can use in conjunction with their own emissions reduction programs. To date, 1PointFive has signed CO₂ removal credit purchase agreements with customers, including Amazon, Airbus, All Nippon Airways (ANA), TD Bank Group, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Texans.

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Carbon utilization firm raises $20m Series A

Investors include Korea’s Envisioning Partners as well as United Airlines’ Sustainable Flight Fund and Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.

Dimensional Energy, Inc., a CO2-to-SAF and carbon utilization technology firm has closed a $20m Series A funding round.

In addition, the climate tech company announces their filing of the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation Charter, the first step in becoming a certified B Corporation.

The funding round was led by Envisioning Partners, a prominent Korea-based impact venture capital fund with a strong global focus on climate investing, with strategic participation from United Airlines’ Sustainable Flight Fund, Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, RockCreek Group’s Smart Aviation Futures fund, DSC Investment, Delek US, New York Ventures, Climate Tech Circle, and continuing support from existing investors Elemental Excelerator, Chloe Capital, and Launch New York among others, according to a news release.

The Series A round funding, combined with committed third-party project financing, positions Dimensional Energy for significant growth, enabling the company to rapidly achieve commercial scale and expand its portfolio of high-value, financially attractive projects, according to the company.

ReSource reported in August that the firm was in the late stages of a roughly $100m equity and debt round led internally.

In May, the company signed an offtake agreement for 5 million gallons per year with Boom Supersonic, which is seeking to build a supersonic airliner that will travel at speeds twice as fast as today’s commercial jets.

Dimensional Energy will allocate the newly raised funds to advance its key initiatives:

  1. Construction of the world’s first advanced power-to-liquid (PtL) fuels plant, utilizing emissions from the Lafarge Richmond Cement Plant in British Columbia, Canada, in partnership with Svante, a leader in carbon capture technology.
  2.  The continued development of commercial power-to-liquid plants globally including a project with financing from Seneca Environmental and development support from Elemental Excelerator’s Infrastructure and Community Engagement programs.
  3.  Introduction of Dimensional Energy’s first consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) products, including fossil-free surf wax and a cruelty-free fat alternative tailored for vegan food manufacturers.
  4. Technology advancements including the evolution of Dimensional Energy’s proprietary reactor and catalyst technologies, which are being developed with funding from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E and SETO programs, in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Cornell University. These innovations are field-tested at Dimensional Energy’s technology center in Tucson, Arizona.
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Ara Partners takes majority interest in restructured renewable fuels infrastructure firm

The private equity and infrastructure firm has acquired USD Clean Fuels, a developer of logistics infrastructure in North America that was formed out of the restructured USD Partners.

Ara Partners, a private equity and infrastructure firm that specializes in industrial decarbonization investments, today announced that it has acquired a majority interest in USD Clean Fuels, LLC, a developer of logistics infrastructure in North America for the renewable fuels value chain.

As part of the transaction, USDCF has also acquired the West Colton Rail Terminal, a fully operational biofuels terminal in California. Ara has committed additional capital to support significant expansion of USDCF’s infrastructure footprint.

USD Partners, the seller of USDCF and the West Colton Rail Terminal, will use the proceeds to repay borrowings outstanding under its revolving credit agreement and to pay transaction expenses, according to a separate press release. As of December 22, 2023, the partnership had approximately $181m of borrowings outstanding under its credit agreement, on which it had been in forbearance since earlier this year.

In negotiations with creditors, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as legal advisor to the partnership and Lazard acted as financial advisor.

Previously backed by Energy Capital Partners, USD Partners was de-listed from the NYSE in 2023 after having IPO’d in 2014.

Based in Houston, Texas, USDCF develops, owns, and operates infrastructure to facilitate safe, reliable and economic delivery of renewable fuel feedstocks and biofuels to production facilities and end-market demand centers, according to today’s news release. The USDCF team, led by Chief Executive Officer Dan Borgen and President Bob Copher, has a longstanding track record of developing, commercializing and operating midstream infrastructure across North America, according to a news release.

“We have high conviction that the green molecules economy – whether it’s renewable fuel feedstocks or biofuels – offers disproportionate opportunity for returns and impact,” said George Yong, partner and co-head of infrastructure at Ara Partners. “The USDCF platform is particularly compelling because it combines a best-in-class management team with a portfolio of premiere terminal logistics projects that provide the ideal foundation for a durable and scalable infrastructure business.”

“We are excited to join forces with Ara Partners to bring critical infrastructure solutions to the rapidly growing North American renewable fuel market, beginning with the West Colton Rail Terminal,” said Borgen. “We are proud to be backed by an investor that is completely focused on enabling an accelerated and economical path to a low-carbon economy.”

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exclusive

See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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Exclusive: Inside Strata’s P2X strategy

Strata Clean Energy is seeking to engage with global chemical, energy, and shipping companies as a potential partner for a pipeline of green hydrogen projects that will have FIDs in 2025 and CODs later this decade.

Strata Clean Energy is developing a pipeline of green hydrogen projects that will produce large amounts of green ammonia and other hydrogen derivatives later this decade.

Mike Grunow, executive vice president and general manager of Strata’s Power-to-X platform, said in an interview that the company is investing in the development of proprietary modeling and optimization software that forms part of its strategy to de-risk Power-to-X projects for compliance with strict 45V tax credit standards.

“We’re anticipating having the ability to produce substantial amounts of low-carbon ammonia in the back half of this decade from a maturing pipeline of projects that we’ve been developing, and we’re looking to collaborate with global chemical, energy, and shipping companies on the next steps for these projects,” he said.

Strata’s approach to potential strategic offtakers could also include the partner taking an equity stake in projects, “with the right partner,” Grunow said. The projects are expected to reach FID in 2025.

Grunow declined to comment on the specific size or regional focus of the projects.

“We aspire for the projects to be as large as possible,” he said. “All of the projects are in deep discussions with the regional transmission providers to determine the schedule at which more and more transmission capacity can be made available.”

Strata will apply its expertise in renewable energy to the green hydrogen industry, he said, which involves the deployment of unique combinations of renewable energy, energy storage, and energy trading to deliver structured products to large industrial clients, municipal utilities and regulated utilities.

The company “commits to providing 100% hourly matched renewable energy over a guaranteed set of hours over the course of an entire year for 10 – 20 years,” Grunow said.

“It’s our expectation that the European regulations and more of the global regulations, and the guidance from the US Treasury will require that the clean energy supply projects are additional, deliverable within the same ISO/RTO, and that, eventually, the load of the electrolyzer will need to follow the production of the generation,” he said.

Strata’s strategy for de-risking compliance with the Inflation Reduction Act’s 45V revenue stream for green hydrogen will give asset-level lenders certainty on the delivery of a project’s IRA incentives.

“Right now, if I’m looking at a project with an hourly matched 45V revenue stream, I have substantial doubt about that project’s ability to actually staple the hourly matched RECs to the amount of hydrogen produced in an hour, to the ton of hydrogen derivative,” he said.

During the design phase, developers evaluate multiple electrolyzer technologies, hourly matching of variable generation, price uncertainty and carbon intensity of the grid, plant availability and maintenance costs along with evolving 45V compliance requirements.

Meanwhile, during the operational phase, complex revenue streams need to be optimized. In certain markets with massive electrical loads, an operator has the opportunity to earn demand response and ancillary service revenues, Grunow said.

Optimal operations

“The key to maximizing the value of these assets is optimal operations,” he said, noting project optionality between buying and selling energy, making and storing hydrogen, and using hydrogen to make a derivative such as ammonia or methanol.

Using its software, Strata can make a complete digital twin of a proposed plant in the design phase, which accounts for the specifications of the commercially available electrolyzer families.

Strata analyzes an hourly energy supply schedule for every project it evaluates, across 8,760 hours a year and 20 years of expected operating life. It can then cue up that digital project twin – with everything known about the technology options, their ability to ramp and turn down, and the drivers of degradation – and analyze optimization for different electrolyzer operating formats. 

“It’s fascinating right now because the technology development cycle is happening in less than 12 months, so every year you need to check back in with all the vendors,” he said. “This software tool allows us to do that in a hyper-efficient way.”

A major hurdle the green hydrogen industry still needs to overcome, according to Grunow, is aligning the commercial aspects of electrolysis with its advances in technological innovation.

“The lender at the project level needs the technology vendor to take technology and operational risk for 10 years,” he said. “So you need a long-term service agreement, an availability guarantee, key performance metric guarantees on conversion efficiency,” he said, “and those guarantees must have liquidated damages for underperformance, and those liquidated damages must be backstopped by a limitation of liability and a domestic entity with substantial credit. Otherwise these projects won’t get financed.”

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Exclusive: Biofuels developer interviewing bankers for capital raise

The developer of a renewable diesel and SAF plant in East Texas is seeking a banker for assistance raising development and FID capital.

Santa Maria Renewable Resources, a biofuels developer with a project in East Texas, is interviewing bankers for an upcoming capital raise.

The Houston-based firm is seeking a banker to help it raise some $40m in development capital, in a role that would then pivot to arranging project finance for a final investment decision, CEO Pat Sanchez said in an interview.

The company recently announced its selection of Topsoe as technology provider for the 3,000-barrels-per-day facility, which will produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. It also tapped Chemex to conduct the FEED study.

Sanchez is the former COO of Sanchez Midstream Partners, having left in 2020 after preferred shareholder Stonepeak took over the company.

He perceives headwinds for capital raising in the biofuels space, but believes the project profile he is promoting is superior to peers due to its hedged profile and the incorporation of a sustainable agriculture component that extracts additional value from an oilseed.

The superior returns, which he claims are north of 25% on an unlevered basis, “come from the integration of two industries” – biofuels and agricultural commodities – “on one site.”

Using Topsoe technology, the proposed plant can swing between 100% SAF to 100% renewable diesel, depending on the needs of the offtaker.

The project has an agreed-upon term sheet for offtake with an oil major. Under the agreement, the oil major is required to deliver feedstock in the form of camelina, canola, and soybean, he said.

Only one company in the U.S. closed on a development capital raise for a bio-based fuel project in 2023. That company was DG Fuels, and it raised up to $30m in development capital for a woody biomass-based Louisiana SAF plant expected to cost $4.2bn and reach FID in 2024.

“There seems to still be some headwinds in some companies on the biofuels side that are struggling to raise development capital,” Sanchez said, noting that the biofuels and clean energy sectors were some of the worst performers in 2023.

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