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Gulf Coast ammonia plant transacts

CF Industries purchased the Waggaman ammonia plant in Louisiana from Incitec Pivot for $1.675bn.

CF Industries Holdings, Inc., a global manufacturer of hydrogen and nitrogen products, has signed a definitive purchase agreement with Incitec Pivot Limited for IPL’s ammonia production complex located in Waggaman, Louisiana, according to a news release.

The facility has a nameplate capacity of 880,000 tons of ammonia annually.

Under the terms of the agreement, CF Industries will purchase the Waggaman ammonia plant and related assets for $1.675bn. The companies will allocate approximately $425m of the purchase price to a long-term ammonia offtake agreement under which CF Industries will supply up to 200,000 tons of ammonia per year to IPL’s Dyno Nobel subsidiary. CF Industries expects to fund the remaining $1.25bn of the purchase price with cash on hand.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with Incitec Pivot Limited that benefits from our industry-leading ammonia production capabilities, deploys our capital efficiently and provides long-term value for both companies’ shareholders,” said Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. “We believe the Waggaman facility will fit seamlessly into our network, as well as our strategic focus on ammonia as a clean energy source, given its proximity and pipeline connection to our Donaldsonville, Louisiana, Complex, its distribution and logistics flexibility, and its favorable characteristics for the addition of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies to enable low-carbon ammonia production.”

Ammonia produced at the Waggaman facility today is distributed ratably to three customers, including Dyno Nobel, with approximately 75% used in industrial applications. Based on the nature of the medium- to long-term offtake agreements in place with these customers, CF Industries estimates that the plant will generate gross margin per ton commensurate with its existing ammonia segment prior to synergies, which the company expects to capture through greater capacity utilization and operational and logistics optimization. Over the last five years, CF Industries’ operational capabilities have resulted in ammonia asset utilization that is approximately 10% higher than the average utilization rate of the company’s North American peers.

Additionally, CF Industries anticipates implementing CCS at the site on an accelerated timeline, increasing its network’s low-carbon ammonia production capability, supporting Louisiana’s and the country’s climate goals, and earning 45Q tax credits for sequestered carbon dioxide.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is subject to receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is serving as the financial advisor to CF Industries on the transaction. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as its legal advisor. Latham & Watkins served as legal advisor to the seller while JP Morgan was financial advisor.

About the Waggaman Ammonia Production Complex

The Waggaman, Louisiana, ammonia production complex is situated on an integrated chemicals complex owned by Cornerstone Chemical Company.

  • Commissioned October 2016
  • Nameplate capacity: 880,000 tons of ammonia per year
  • Approximately 90 employees
  • 38,500-ton ammonia storage tank onsite
  • Ability to load and transport ammonia by NuStar Pipeline, barge, truck and rail
  • Located in Jefferson Parish on the Mississippi River with potential for vessel loading capabilities for low-carbon ammonia exports
  • Site is 60 miles southeast of CF Industries’ Donaldsonville Complex, facilitating resource and best practice sharing between the complexes

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Spain’s ACCIONA planning large-scale green hydrogen projects in the US

A JV between Spain’s ACCIONA and Germany’s Nordex has big plans for the US.

ACCIONA & Nordex Green Hydrogen (ANGH) is developing gigawatt-scale green hydrogen projects in the United States.

The firm, a JV between Spanish renewables and infrastructure firm ACCIONA and German wind turbine maker Nordex, has several projects in development in rural America as part of a global portfolio of green hydrogen projects with targeted installed wind and solar capacity of 50 GW.

In comments to the IRS regarding 45V tax credits, the firm’s Vice President of Development Scott Baron wrote that the firm was seeking to reach FID by 2027 and complete construction by 2030 on at least one of the projects.

“Each project represents multiple billions of capital investment and gigawatts of incremental renewable energy capacity. Developing projects of this scale takes time and considerable investment, which we have committed,” Baron wrote.

In making the case for maintaining strict standards for green hydrogen production under 45V, Baron noted that Nordex has a separate business unit, Nordex Electrolyzers, that is developing an alkaline electrolyzer designed to operate under variable electricity output from renewable sources.

“Prototyping will be complete in 2025 with commercial scale-up to follow,” he said. “This experience has given us confidence that the technology (in general) will be ready and scalable in time to support the projects we and others intend to build within this decade.”

Baron declined to comment further on the projects.

Business model

Further making the argument for strict green hydrogen rules, Baron writes that there are zero emissions impacts to the grid under the business model that ANGH is pursuing, whereby renewable energy resources are directly connected to the electrolyzers.

“Our support [of strict rules] is predicated on a business model that ANGH and others are pursuing globally, which focuses on building very large-scale projects (typical projects are 1,000- 3,000 MW electrolyzer capacity, with capital cost expectations of $3-10 billion) in the best renewable energy resource areas of the world but are remote and currently lack transmission infrastructure,” the letter reads. “These projects are exclusively or primarily ‘behind-the-meter’ or ‘off-grid’ and rely on system designs that optimize sizing of the various key pieces of equipment given the wind and/or solar profile of the site. “

Baron goes on to write that the challenge of remotely sited projects is transporting the final end-product to its end user. “Within the United States, there is tremendous potential to utilize and/or develop low-cost pipelines, which is a proven successful and low-cost method of transporting molecules,” he said. “The scale of the projects ANGH is developing can support the capital costs associated with new longer distance pipelines.”

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Avina unveils Midwest ethanol-to-SAF project

Avina revealed more details about a planned SAF project in the Midwest, saying that funding commitments for the project through FID have been secured.

Clean hydrogen developer Avina said this week it is pursuing plans for a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) plant in the Midwest region set to commence operations in 2027.

The facility, engineered to produce 120 million gallons of SAF annually, will utilize alcohol-to-jet production technology pathway. The SAF produced will have significantly reduced life cycle carbon emissions compared to conventional jet fuel. The end product will be certified to meet ASTM D7566 standards, according to a news release.

Preliminary Front End Engineering Design (Pre-FEED) for the project is complete and FEED is expected to kick off in Q2 2024.

Funding commitments for the project through FID have been secured, and Avina is currently engaged in advanced discussions with various strategic and financial investors to fund the project at FID.

Avina is also pleased to announce that it has entered into long-term supply agreements with leading ethanol suppliers for a significant portion of the low carbon intensity (CI) ethanol feedstock volume requirement, a major milestone in moving the project forward. Substantial volumes of ethanol will be supplied by facilities with operational carbon capture and sequestration. Leveraging this low carbon intensity ethanol feedstock, the project is estimated to avoid around 840,000 metric tons of aviation-related carbon emissions annually. The project will leverage existing rail and pipeline infrastructure to ensure optimal delivery of end product into the Chicago O’Hare and other regional airports.

The US airline industry is experiencing a notable demand for SAF in response to commitments to utilize three billion gallons of SAF by 2030. Avina is proactively collaborating with airline customers and other stakeholders to play a key role in meeting this target.

“The strategic location, scale, and cost-effectiveness offer a significant advantage for our SAF project,” says Vishal Shah, CEO & Founder at Avina Clean Hydrogen. “Aviation sector accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions. In recent years, emissions from this sector have been increasing at a faster rate compared to those from rail, road, or shipping. Sustainable Aviation Fuels are critical to decarbonizing the aviation sector and the Ethanol-to-Jet production pathway is the most immediate, cost-effective, and scalable option for aviation decarbonization. With the procurement of low CI ethanol from existing production facilities that have CO2 capture and sequestration, we are excited about the project’s potential to drive aviation industry’s decarbonization efforts forward.”

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FirstElement receives grant to expand manufacturing capacity

A $7.7m grant from the California Energy Commission is meant to help increase the output of the Santa Ana components manufacturing facility tenfold.

FirstElement Fuel has received a $7.7m grant from the California Energy Commission to increase the Company’s Santa Ana, CA manufacturing facility output by more than 10 times, according to a news release.

The California-based company is currently operating the world’s largest network of hydrogen refueling stations comprised of 85 dispensers across 40 station locations and serving hydrogen-powered vehicles across California.

The facility in Santa Ana produces components and systems for hydrogen refueling stations, including liquid hydrogen cryopump systems. FistElement will also contribute at least $14m to the project.

The manufacturing expansion project will extend through March 2026. FistElement will also increase its pump testing capability at its hydrogen logistics hub and field-testing facility  in Livermore, California as part of the project.

Quantron US and FirstElement recently announced that Quantron will be one of the first to take advantage of FirstElement’s network of hydrogen stations designed for hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks.

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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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exclusive

Denver green ammonia firm prepping series C capital raise

A green ammonia developer and technology provider is laying the groundwork for a series C capital raise later this year, and still deliberating on a site for its first project.

Starfire Energy, a Denver-based green ammonia producer, is wrapping up a series B capital raise and laying the groundwork for a series C later this year, CEO Joe Beach said in an interview.

The company completed a $6.5m series A in 2021 and finished a $24m series B last year. Investors include Samsung Ventures, AP Ventures, Çalık Enerji, Chevron Technology Ventures, Fund for Sustainability and Energy, IHI Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Osaka Gas USA, Pavilion Capital and the Rockies Venture Club.

Beach declined to state a target figure for the upcoming raise. The firm has not used a financial advisor to date.

Starfire is currently deliberating on locations for its first production facility to come online in 2026, Beach said. Colorado is a primary contender due to ammonia demand, while the Great Plains offer abundant wind energy.

The firm’s strategy is to use renewable energy and surplus nuclear power from utilities to create ammonia from hydrogen with no storage component, eliminating the problems associated with hydrogen storage and transportation.

Targeted offtake industries include agriculture, maritime shipping and peaking power fuel consumption.

“The demand is global,” Beach said, stating that he expects about 150 leads to convert to MOUs. “We get inbound interest every week.”

For future capital raising, Beach said the company could take on purely financial investors, as it already has a long list of strategic investors.

“The expectation is we will wind up with manufacturing plants around the world,” Beach said.

The “new petroleum”

Many hydrogen production projects have been announced worldwide in the last year.

Beach said he expects many of those to transition into ammonia production projects, as ammonia is much easier to export.

Now, Starfire is working on developing its ammonia cracking technology, which converts ammonia into an ammonia/hydrogen blend at the point of use for chemical processes. The final product form in that process is 70% ammonia, 22.5% hydrogen and 7.5% nitrogen – all free of emissions.

The company is using proceeds of its series B capital raise to develop its Rapid Ramp and Prometheus Fire systems. Rapid Ramp uses a modular system design for the production of green ammonia using air, water, and renewable energy as the sole inputs. Prometheus Fire is an advanced cracking system that converts ammonia into hydrogen, operating at lower temperatures than other crackers and creating cost-effective ammonia-hydrogen blends that can replace natural gas.

The advantage to using this technology is that it makes the export of a hydrogen product financially feasible, Beach said.

“You should see ammonia becoming the new petroleum,” he said of the global industry. Ammonia can be deployed internationally like oil and provide the dependability of coal.

Eventually Starfire will undergo a financial exit, Beach said. Likely that will mean an acquisition, but an IPO is also on the table.

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exclusive

Hydra Energy raising equity and debt capital for hydrogen refueling infrastructure

The hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets is pursuing an equity raise that will unlock a debt facility for scaling up hydrogen refueling infrastructure in Western Canada.

Hydra Energy, a hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets, is in the midst of a CAD 14m equity capital raise.

The Vancouver-based company is pursuing the equity raise in support of its Prince George hydrogen fueling station, which is set to be operational in 2024 and would be the largest in the world, Hydra CEO Jessica Verhagan.

The equity portion of the financing is needed to unlock an additional CAD 150m debt facility to complete initial scale-up of the company’s planned hydrogen corridor along Highway 16 in Western Canada, Verhagan added.

Verhagan said the company is not working with a financial advisor on the capital raise but could issue RFPs for advisory services in the future. She declined to name the provider of the proposed debt facility, apart from clarifying that it was not government-sponsored.

“To date, Hydra has been signing up commercial fleets and building out its initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure throughout Western Canada, but the company is about to announce expansion throughout the rest of the country via licensing to a national fossil fuel distributor looking to extend its low-carbon alternative fuel offerings,” the executive said via email.

Hydra’s target market to date has been the roughly 5 million Class 8 trucks within North America, Verhagan said, with the company aiming to “conservatively” capture 1% of that market by 2030 through commercial discussions already underway. Hydra is also exploring expansion into the UK as well as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.

“Hydra’s initial focus has been on proving out its Hydrogen-as-a-ServiceTM (HaaSTM) template which includes the company providing its proprietary hydrogen-diesel, co-combustion conversion kits to commercial fleets at zero cost (in exchange for long-term hydrogen fuel contracts at diesel equivalent prices) as well as an initial hydrogen refuelling station to service 65 Hydra- converted trucks in Prince George, B.C.,” she said.

Verhagan said the company will announce its first electrolysis partner for the Prince George hydrogen refueling station early next year. The station will be able to refuel – as quickly as diesel – up to 24 Hydra-converted trucks each hour across four bays. The station will provide hydrogen from two onsite, 5 MW electrolyzers powered with electricity from BC Hydro.

“The adoption of Hydra’s technology really comes down to availability of low carbon hydrogen – showing fleets it’s possible to go green cost-effectively – and government support to utilize hydrogen to reduce trucking emissions right now,” Verhagan said.

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