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Green hydrogen developer in exclusivity with new investor

New York-based green hydrogen developer Ambient Fuels is in exclusivity with a new investor, with proceeds from the capital raise slated to fund project development and acquisitions.

Ambient Fuels, the New York-based green hydrogen developer, is in exclusivity with a new investor for a bilateral capital raise, CEO Jacob Susman said in an interview.

Susman declined to name the private equity provider but said the backing will allow Ambient to develop several projects, as well as acquire projects from other developers. The deal is proceeding without the help of a financial advisor.

Once the company reaches its run rate, Ambient plans to complete three to four projects per year costing $50m and up, Susman said, with the first expected to reach operation in 2025.

The company’s initial geographic focus is on the Gulf Coast, centered on the Port of Corpus Christi, Susman said. New York, California, the Pacific Northwest and traditional wind energy states in the Midwest and West are areas of additional work.

Hydrogen hubs

Ambient is closely following the DOE hydrogen hub applications process, Susman said. Which regions are awarded funding could make a difference for where the company locates new projects.

According to ReSource‘s project tracker, Ambient is involved in at least two of the hubs that were encouraged by the DOE to submit a final application: California’s Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), and the Port of Corpus Christi Green Hydrogen Hub.

In 2021 Ambient completed a funding round led by SJF Ventures. Several other VC funds and angel investors also participated.

Open for offtake business  

Ambient is looking for offtakers in industries that use the molecules for feedstock and energy but need to meet decarbonization targets.

The company is working to provide hydrogen as an industrial feedstock and energy source to sectors including transportation, oil and gas, mining, glass and steel production and automobile manufacturing. Supplying hydrogen for ammonia fertilizer is another target market.

Advisors with clients in those industries should reach out to Ambient, Susman said.

M&A strategy

Ambient strives to be a fully integrated devco with the resources, capital and expertise to take a project to fruition, Susman said. Projects developed by smaller companies can look to Ambient as a buyer for their projects.

“We want to be a home for those great projects that are being developed independently,” Susman said. “Absolutely we will be acquiring projects.”

Smaller developers with good projects could also be targets for takeover with the backing from the new investor, Susman said. The firm could also make a technology buy in software for project development, operations, or possibly the equipment side, though Susman said there’s a low probability of that.

Financial advisors that have leads on good projects Ambient can acquire are welcome to pitch, Susman said.

Susman said he is not in a hurry to exit Ambient and can see the company being independently financed for years to come.

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New Fortress Energy planning five industrial-scale hydrogen plants

The company is building a pure-play clean hydrogen business, known as Zero, which it plans to capitalize separately in the near future.

New Fortress Energy is planning to build five industrial-scale hydrogen production hubs as part of its pursuit of a pure-play clean hydrogen infrastructure business.

The liquefied natural gas company has started construction on its first plant in Beaumont, Texas, where it is expected to produce 50 tons per day of green hydrogen, the company said on its 3Q22 earnings call today.

New Fortress Energy is taking learnings from the construction of the Beaumont plant to scale up its hydrogen business via additional projects that will produce a combined 90,000 tons per year, according to a presentation.

The company is building a pure-play clean hydrogen business, known as Zero, which it plans to capitalize separately in the near future.

Plug Power will provide electrolyzers while Entergy will provide renewable power to the Beaumont plant, which is set to begin operations in 2024.

The location of the project in southeast Texas is near refineries with an anticipated demand of 1,000 tons per day – over 20 times what the Beaumont plant will produce initially, said Patrick Hughes, managing director and chief commercial officer of NFE Zero.

“So plenty of demand and plenty of growth potential in the immediate region,” the executive said, who noted the company was focused on optimizing offtake for the first phase of the project.

In addition to nearby refineries, the Beaumont project could also supply for an Entergy power plant known as Orange County Advanced Power station. Existing pipeline networks could also ship green hydrogen around the region.

“The good thing about electrolyzers is that it’s fairly straightforward to scale,” Hughes said.

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IEA report outlines case for cost reductions in e-fuels

The International Energy Agency assesses needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments for achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030.

The International Energy Agency’s report on the role of e-fuels in decarbonizing transport finds that e-fuels’ cost gap with fossil fuels could substantially reduce by 2030, an important finding for the advancement of a family of emerging e-fuel technologies. 

In the report, which was published last month, the IEA aims to assess the implications of growth in e-fuels in terms of needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments of an assumed goal of achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030. 

For instance, the cost of low-emission e-kerosene might drop to $50/GJ ($2,150 per ton), making it competitive with biomass-based sustainable aviation fuels – but still 2 – 3x more expensive than fossil-based fuels. 

The costs for low-emission e-methanol and e-ammonia could also decrease, opening the door for their use as low-emission fuels in shipping. Interestingly, the production of e-fuels for aviation will also result in a significant amount of e-gasoline as a by-product, the report notes.

In terms of impact on transport prices, a 10% share of low-emission e-fuels would only modestly increase the cost of transport, according to the report. For example, e-kerosene would raise the ticket price of a flight using 10% of e-fuels by only 5%. 

However, the adoption of e-methanol and e-ammonia in shipping will necessitate significant investments in infrastructure and ships. The overall cost for a fully e-ammonia or e-methanol-fueled container ship would be 75% higher than a conventional fossil-fuel-powered ship, yet this represents just 1-2% of the typical value of goods transported in these containers.

The production of e-fuels generally suffers from low efficiency due to multiple conversion steps and losses, leading to high resource and infrastructure demand, according to the report. Producing significant amounts of low-emission e-fuels could increase the demand for renewable electricity by about 2,000 TWh/yr by 2030. This represents about one-fifth of the growth of low-emission electricity expected in this decade under certain policy scenarios. 

The production of e-fuels can exploit the potential of remote locations with high-quality renewable resources and vast land available for large-scale projects. However, achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping would require a significant increase in electrolyser capacity, equivalent to the entire size of the global electrolyser project pipeline to 2030.

The accelerated deployment of low-emission e-fuels for shipping would require substantial investments in refueling infrastructure and vessels, especially for e-ammonia or e-methanol. Achieving a 10% share in shipping would demand approximately 70 Mt/yr of these fuels. The financial investment in shipping capacity and bunkering infrastructure would be substantial, yet represent less than 5% of the cumulative shipbuilding market size over the period 2023-2030.

Producing carbon-containing low-emission e-kerosene and e-methanol would necessitate a massive increase in CO₂ utilization, with significant potential synergy with biofuels production. Around 200 Mt CO₂ would be required for a 10% share of e-kerosene in aviation and 150 Mt CO₂ for the same share in shipping if using e-methanol. 

Access to CO₂ is a major constraint for carbon-containing low-emission e-fuels, and the best wind and solar resources are not always co-located with significant bioenergy resources. Direct air capture (DAC) of CO₂ could provide an unlimited source of CO₂ feedstock without geographic constraints, but it is expected to remain a high-cost option in 2030, the report projects.

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Carbon transformation firm closes equity round

A start-up that aims to turn greenhouse gas emissions into carbon materials for sustainable and inexpensive everyday essentials has raised $6m.

Carbonova Corp., a start-up that aims to turn greenhouse gas emissions into carbon materials for sustainable and inexpensive everyday essentials, announced today that it has successfully closed its SAFE equity financing in an oversubscribed round with $6m raised, according to a news release.

The company intends to use the net proceeds from the financing to advance its strategy towards building the first commercial demonstration carbon nanofibers unit in Canada.

The financing round was led by Kolon Industries, a multi-billion-dollar Korean conglomerate. Kolon has a keen interest in Carbonova’s technology applications in Asia, including batteries, plastics, and other materials.  Another major participant in this round was the Natural Gas Innovation Fund NGIF Capital, a venture capital firm focused on innovative technologies for improving the environmental performance of existing or renewable natural gas and hydrogen production. This round also saw strong participation from the company’s directors, management, and staff team. This funding adds to the previously announced $2.5 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada “SDTC” and the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program “NRC-IRAP” secured in February of 2023.

“Carbonova’s vision is to create everyday essentials from everyday emissions for everyone on earth, and with this financing, we are on track to complete the design of our first-of-a-kind commercial demo unit to put our vision into action,” said Mina Zarabian, Carbonova’s CEO and Co-Founder. “We have investors and customers from the wide spectrum of the carbon value chain validating the strong pull from the market for transitioning to this recycling of carbon to enhance the building blocks of virtually everything in modern society”.

Carbonova currently produces carbon nanomaterials for customers at a pilot facility at the company’s headquarters in northeast Calgary, Alberta. The commercial demonstration expansion will result in unit production cost efficiencies and is forecast to reduce the CO2 footprint of the carbon nanomaterials to below net-zero.

“Carbonova is on track to complete the front-end-engineering design (FEED) of its first commercial demo unit; the new design will represent a significant scale-up from Carbonova’s existing pilot facility,” said Zarabian. “The new plant will generate multiple hundreds of kilograms of carbon nanomaterials per day. This amount is sufficient to generate thousands of tons of sustainable end products and serve dozens of customers to bring their own innovative sustainable products in different sectors to the market.”

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CCS developer initiating discussions for corporate capital raise

Following its sale of a stake in a mega-scale carbon capture project in the Gulf Coast, Carbonvert is planning to initiate conversations to raise additional corporate capital, with plans to deploy as much as $500m into new projects.

Carbonvert, a Houston-based carbon capture and sequestration developer, is planning to start conversations soon with an eye to raise corporate capital that will allow it to advance mega-scale CCS projects, CEO Alex Tiller said in an interview.

Owned by a group of outside investors and the management team, Carbonvert is advancing a business model that takes advantage of the group’s expertise in early-stage project development, Tiller said.

The company recently completed the sale of its 25% interest in the Bayou Bend CCS project to Norway’s Equinor, which will now own the development alongside Chevron (50%) and Talos Energy (25%).

Bayou Bend CCS is the type of mega-scale project that Carbonvert will be pursuing in coming years, and for which the company will need to raise as much as $500m in corporate capital due to the capital-intensive nature of the projects, Tiller said.

Chevron last year bought its 50% operating stake in Bayou Bend for $50m, implying a $100m valuation for the project, which is positioned to become one of the largest CCS developments in the US for industrial emitters, with nearly 140,000 gross acres of pore space – 100,000 onshore and 40,000 offshore.

Carbonvert’s stake sale, announced yesterday, was “a positive result” for the company, Tiller said, though he declined to comment further on the valuation.

“It delivers capital to our balance sheet and allows us to grow our pipeline of projects and fund additional projects,” he said. Carbonvert used Jefferies as sell-side financial advisor in the sale to Equinor, he added.

Tiller, a veteran of the renewable energy industry, is a founding member of Carbonvert alongside Chief Development Officer Jan Sherman, who previously had a 30-year career with Shell and helped build the oil major’s Quest CCS project in Alberta, Canada.

For the upcoming capital raise, Carbonvert has not decided on whether to use a financial advisor; the structure of the capital raise will likely determine if an advisor is needed, Tiller said.

“We’ll definitely be out raising more corporate capital – these projects are tremendously expensive,” he said. “We’ll be starting conversations soon.”

The company has a line of sight to deploy as much as $500m of capital into its own projects over the next several years, he said, an indication of how much capital it will need to raise.

“These are large infrastructure projects that are going to take many years to bring to fruition, followed by decades of operations,” he said. “We live at the front end of the projects,” he added, “and when the appropriate parties are at the table, it’s really an act of humility to say ‘hey, maybe we’ve taken this as far as we can or should,’” a reference to finding the right time to sell the company’s stakes in the projects it is developing.

In addition to the Bayou Bend CCS project, Carbonvert is part of a consortium that’s developing a carbon hub in Wyoming. The company is also collaborating on an exploratory study for the direct air capture and storage of CO2 emissions from a nuclear power plant in Alabama.

“You can expect to see project announcements that look like Bayou Bend in the future,” Tiller said. “We like that type of mega-scale project, we like offshore, and we’re also pursuing some opportunities onshore that are less mature.”

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Air Products CEO discusses mega-scale green hydrogen project with AES

Air Products CEO Seifi Ghasemi further discussed its JV with AES Corporation to develop a $4bn green hydrogen project in Texas, noting that roughly half the price tag would come from developing 1.4 GW of renewables to feed the electrolyzers.

Air Products and AES Corporation will form a JV to develop a $4bn integrated green hydrogen facility in Texas, with roughly half of the cost coming from development of 900 MW of wind and 500 MW of solar generation, and the other half for the hydrogen build-out, Air Products CEO Seifi Ghasemi said on an investor call today.

Similar to his company’s JV in Saudi Arabia, the 50/50 JV will develop, build, own and operate a facility in Wilbarger County, at the site of a decommissioned coal-fired plant, Ghasemi said on the call.

Air Products has an exclusive global agreement with thyssenkrupp for electrolyzers, and could include battery storage at the Texas site to help power the electrolyzers, he added.

A separate entity owned 100% by Air Products will be the sole offtaker from the facility, Ghasemi said, which will produce more than 100 mtpd for use in transportation and industrial markets.

The relationship between AES and Air Products is not exclusive, he said.

Air Products expects a minimum internal rate of return of 10%, Ghasemi said. The company is hoping the tax benefits of the project will result in a lower hydrogen price from the JV.

The amount of capital invested by Air Products will be determined by downstream uses, Ghasemi said. The company has yet to decide if it will build a liquefaction plant, transport gaseous hydrogen by pipeline, or convert the hydrogen to ammonia and ship it by rail.

When it was noted that there is not an existing pipeline connecting Wilbarger County to Air Product’s Gulf Coast pipeline, Ghasemi said he was being pressured to get more deeply in the topic than he wanted, but that the company was confident emerging industry in the area would provide the necessary offtake.

“We don’t have to send it all the way down 250 miles to our existing pipeline,” Ghasemi said. “There’s a lot of different options.”

Air Products will not issue new stock to dilute shareholders or jeopardize its A-rating, Ghasemi said.

The labor cost is “very low on these projects,” Ghasemi said. And customers are attracted to getting 30-year contracts not associated with the price of oil, natural gas or geopolitics.

Air Products is investing approximately $500m for a 35 metric ton per day facility to produce green liquid hydrogen at a greenfield site in Massena, New York, as well as liquid hydrogen distribution and dispensing operations.

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