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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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Former thyssenkrupp nucera CEO to lead Canadian electrolyzer startup

Canadian electrolyzer startup Hydrogen Optimized has hired Denis Krupe as CEO.

Hydrogen Optimized Inc., a subsidiary of Key DH Technologies Inc. (KEY), today announced that Denis Krude, former CEO of green hydrogen technology company thyssenkrupp nucera, will be appointed President and CEO starting April 8, 2024.

Company Co-Founder Andrew Stuart will continue to play an active leadership role at Hydrogen Optimized as Executive Chair, according to a news release.

Krude joined the thyssenkrupp Group, one of Germany’s largest industrial companies, in 1998. At thyssenkrupp Uhde, a chemical plant manufacturer, he held a series of progressively senior management positions. From 2016 to 2023, he served as CEO and a Member of the Executive Board at thyssenkrupp nucera, a leading technology and plant engineering company specializing in water electrolysis and green hydrogen. Among his accomplishments there, in 2021-2022 Krude and his team prepared the company for an IPO, leading investor meetings and other activities that set the stage for its successful 2023 public listing.

“The unique focus of Hydrogen Optimized on large-scale water electrolysis solutions for major, hard-to-abate industries aligns with my view that this market segment offers the most significant opportunity in clean hydrogen,” Denis Krude said. “With a strong foundation built on the Stuart family’s 120-year legacy in high-power water electrolysis, I see enormous opportunity for Hydrogen Optimized to become a world leader in clean hydrogen.”

The company’s patented RuggedCell™ system enables clean hydrogen plants up to gigawatt scale. The RuggedCell™ is a precious metal-free, high power alkaline water electrolyzer with a 0-100% dynamic range. Through a strategic relationship with ABB, an investor in KEY, Hydrogen Optimized has strengthened the RuggedCell™ offering through access to ABB’s world-leading power and automation technologies.

Krude, a 54-year-old German national, was born in Spain.

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Ares SPAC in merger with modular reactor developer X-energy

X-energy is cultivating advanced small modular reactor technology and proprietary fuel that can be used in applications that currently rely on fossil fuels to produce steam and heat for processes like manufacturing, petroleum refining and hydrogen production.

X Energy Reactor Company, LLC, a developer of small modular nuclear reactors and fuel technology for clean energy generation, and Ares Acquisition Corporation, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, have entered into a definitive business combination agreement, according to a news release.

The combination will establish X-energy as a publicly-traded, developer of a more advanced small modular reactor (SMR) and proprietary fuel that supports the transition to clean, affordable energy through enhanced safety, lower cost, scalability and broader industrial applications. X-energy’s entry into the public markets is expected to accelerate its growth strategy through additional investment opportunities and financial flexibility as well as differentiated sponsorship by Ares, a leading global alternative investment manager.

The business combination ascribes a pre-money equity value of approximately $2bn to X-energy. Existing X-energy equity holders will roll 100% of their existing equity interests into the combined company. In addition, the combined company will receive approximately $1bn of cash held in AAC’s trust account, assuming no redemptions by AAC shareholders.

Institutional and strategic investors have also invested or committed $120m in financing. This includes an invested private round of financing, which comprises $30m from Ares and $45m from OPG and Segra Capital Management, a leading nuclear energy-focused hedge fund, as well as an additional commitment of $45m from Ares to be invested concurrent with the closing of the transaction. X-energy also received approximately $58m of interim financing throughout 2022 from existing strategic investors, including Dow and Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

X-energy is advancing nuclear energy generation through its latest-generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, the Xe-100, and its proprietary tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) encapsulated particle fuel, TRISO-X. Representing the next stage in the evolution of nuclear energy technology, the pioneering design of the Xe-100 couples its scalability, innovative modularity, enhanced safety and higher temperature capabilities with decades of HTGR research and operating experience. The Xe-100 can also uniquely address a broader range of uses and applications compared with conventional nuclear reactors. This specifically includes applications that currently rely on fossil fuels to produce steam and heat for processes like manufacturing, petroleum refining and hydrogen production.

The Xe-100 is engineered to operate as a single 80-megawatt (MWe) unit and is optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MWe. With load-following capabilities, the Xe-100 can support intermittent renewable (solar and wind) and other clean energy options with reliable baseload generation.

Guggenheim Securities, LLC is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is acting as legal advisor to X-energy.

Moelis & Company LLC is acting as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is acting as legal advisor to AAC.

Ocean Tomo, a part of J.S. Held, acted as financial advisor to the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of AAC.

UBS Securities LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. are serving as capital markets advisors to AAC and Ropes & Gray LLP is acting as legal advisor to the capital markets advisors.

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Iberdrola and BP to collaborate on green hydrogen production

Iberdrola and BP today announced their plan to form a strategic collaboration aiming to help accelerate the energy transition.

Iberdrola and BP today announced their plan to form a strategic collaboration aiming to help accelerate the energy transition.

The companies intend to develop large scale green hydrogen production hubs in Spain, Portugal and the UK, as well as production of derivatives such as green ammonia and methanol, which could be exported to Northern Europe.

This collaboration will combine Iberdrola’s world-class track record in renewables development and its global customer base, with BP’s experience in gas processing, trading and its global customer portfolio, according to a press release.The companies aim to jointly develop advantaged hydrogen production hubs with total capacity of up to 600ktpa, integrated with new renewable power.

The green hydrogen project at bp’s Castellón refinery will be part of the agreement. The two companies, together with the Instituto Tecnológico de la Energía, have submitted the Castellón project to the Spanish government’s hydrogen value chain PERTE call.

Likewise, Iberdrola’s industrial hydrogen projects under development, as well as new projects, will be part of the agreement. Based on this collaboration in Spain, Portugal and the UK, Iberdrola and bp intend to explore potential future opportunities for green hydrogen production in other geographies.

Iberdrola and BP aim to finalize both joint venture agreements by end 2022, subject to regulatory approvals

The companies also intend to collaborate to significantly expand fast EV public charging infrastructure to support the adoption of electric vehicles.

Iberdrola and BP plan to form a joint venture that intends to invest up to €1 billion to roll-out a network of up to 11,000 rapid and ultra-fast EV public charge points across Spain and Portugal, significantly expanding access to charging for consumer and fleet customers thus accelerating electric mobility.

The plan includes installing and operating an initial 5,000 fast charge points by 2025, and up to a total of 11,000 by 2030, including Iberdrola’s existing fast charging hubs.

The companies are also looking at options to jointly serve EV customers in the UK.

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AEM electrolyzer startup conducting Series B capital raise

A maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is undergoing a Series B capital raise.

Versogen, an electrolyzer startup, is conducting a Series B capital raise, with the aim of closing the round in the coming weeks, CFO Tim Krebs said in an interview.

The Delaware-based maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is seeking to raise multiples of its Series A capital raise, Krebs said, which was a $14.5m round completed in May, 2022.

Proceeds from the Series B would allow the company to complete development of its AEM electrolyzer, a 1 MW modular hydrogen generation system, Krebs said. The company is not using a financial advisor.

The Series A funding round was led by Doosan Corporation and its affiliate HyAxiom. Other investors include The Chemours Company, TechEnergy Ventures, Wenstone H2Tech, TOP Ventures America, a CVC arm of Thai Oil Public Company Limited, DSC Investment and CN Innovations Investments Limited. 

Krebs, a former investment banker who has been the CFO of three energy technology companies, expects some existing investors will also participate in Versogen’s Series B round.

Versogen is led by co-founder and CEO Yushan Yan, an electrochemical engineer and inventor. The company touts a technology using low-cost construction materials like an alkaline electrolyzer but a more efficient production process akin to a membrane-based PEM electrolyzer.

Market dynamics

The capital raise is taking place amid a crowded field of electrolyzer startups looking to raise money in order to finalize designs and cement commercial opportunities.

Among others, Electric Hydrogen, a PEM electrolyzer startup, recently raised a $380m Series C; Verdagy raised a $73m Series B in August; and HyAxiom, a developer and manufacturer of fuel cell and electrolyzer solutions, completed a $150m private placement of convertible preferred stock in July.

At the same time, growth equity as well as Series A and Series B funding for climate tech dropped significantly through the first half of 2023.

Series A funding fell 36%, while Series B funding dropped 20% and growth equity investments fell by 64%, according to data from Climate Tech Venture Capital. Series C funding dropped by 72% in 1H23 compared to the same period last year, the same data shows.

Still, the market for electrolyzers is supported by undersupply as green hydrogen projects advance around the world.

James Bowe, a partner at King & Spalding who is advising on several large green hydrogen projects, said the three top manufacturers of electrolyzers are sold out for the next three to four years, potentially providing an opportunity for startups to fill the gap. Bowe made the comments yesterday during a panel at the Reuters North America Hydrogen conference in Houston.

Additionally, several catalysts for further electrolyzer demand are on the near-term horizon. The US Department of Energy is expected to announce the winners of up to $8bn in government funding for hydrogen hubs this week, while guidance from the IRS detailing rules to qualify for green hydrogen tax credits should be issued in the coming months.

Further clarity on government support for the hydrogen industry is expected to spur many projects toward final offtake arrangements and final investment decisions, experts say.

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Exclusive: Banker enlisted for CO2-to-SAF capital raise

BofA Securities is running a capital raise for a US-based CO2-to-SAF technology provider and project developer with a global pipeline of projects.

eFuels developer Infinium has launched a Series C capital raise along with efforts to advance unannounced projects in its development pipeline, Ayesha Choudhury, head of capital markets, said in an interview.

Bank of America has been engaged to advise on the capital raise.

Infinium recently announced the existence of Project Roadrunner, located in West Texas, which will convert an existing brownfield gas-to-liquids project into an eFuels facility delivering products to both US and international markets. Breakthrough Energy Catalyst has contributed $75m in project equity.

Infinium, which launched in 2020, closed a $69m Series B in 2021, with Amazon, NextEra and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries participating. Its Project Pathfinder in Corpus Christi is fully capitalized.

About a dozen projects, split roughly 50/50 between North America and the rest of the world, are in development now, Choudhury said. The company is always scouting new projects and is looking for partners to provide CO2, develop power generation and offtake end products.

A CO2 feedstock agreement for a US Midwest project with BlackRock-backed Navigator CO2 Ventures was recently scrapped after the latter developer cancelled its CO2 pipeline project.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen blank-check deal and capital raise on track

A de-SPAC deal and associated capital raise for a hydrogen technology and project development firm are still on track to close this year, despite this year’s busted SPAC deals and sagging hydrogen public market performance.

H2B2 Technologies is still on track to close a de-SPAC deal and related capital raise before the end of this year, CEO Pedro Pajares said in an interview.

Spain-based H2B2 announced the deal to be acquired by RMG Acquisition Corp. III and go public in a $750m SPAC deal in May. In tandem, Natixis Partners and BCW Securities are acting as co-private placement agents to H2B2 for a capital raise that the company must close as part of the acquisition.

The company said recently in filings that the deal as well as the capital raise would close before the end of 2023, a fact that Pajares reiterated in the interview. He declined to comment further.

Many publicly traded hydrogen companies have dropped significantly in value in recent months, and dropped further on Friday following news from Plug Power that it would need to raise additional capital in the next 12 months to avoid a liquidity crisis.

Meanwhile, there have been 55 busted SPAC deals this year, according to Bloomberg, with Ares Management’s deal for nuclear tech firm X-Energy the latest to not close.

Expansion

H2BE recently inaugurated SoHyCal, its first facility in Fresno, California, and wants to get the message out to offtakers in California’s Central Valley that it has hydrogen available to sell.

“What we want to show is that H2B2 is the solution for those who are seeking green hydrogen in the Central Valley,” Pajares said.

Phase 1 (one ton per day) of the plant was funded by a grant from the California Clean Energy Commission. Phase 2 (three tons per day) will involve transitioning to solar PV power, and the company could consider a project finance model to finance the expansion, though Pajares believes the market is not yet ready to finance hydrogen projects.

In addition to project development, the company is also an electrolyzer manufacturer. It is focusing its efforts in the California market on future projects that are larger than SoHyCal, as well as those related to individual offtakers, Pajares said. End users will be in mobility and fertilizer, with offtake occurring via long-term contracts as well as through spot market transactions.

The company is pursuing developments in other regions of the US as well, he added, declining to name specific areas.

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