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Heliogen expecting equity partners for California H2 facility

The company anticipates bringing on additional equity partners to support the project’s construction costs.

Heliogen has signed an MOU with the City of Lancaster, California to develop and provide equity for a green hydrogen generation facility there, according to a press release.

“Heliogen expects to bring on additional equity partners to support the project’s construction costs,” the release states.

The City of Lancaster will assist with site identification, review by City Council and the community as required, support for permitting process, and evaluation of economic development potential.

This relationship is expected to accelerate the use of concentrating solar thermal energy for a commercial hydrogen generation facility and builds upon the existing relationship between the City of Lancaster and Heliogen, which sited its demonstration test facility in the city in 2019.

The facility is expected to leverage Heliogen’s patented technology to use AI and advanced computer vision software to concentrate sunlight and could generate up to 1500 metric tons per year of carbon-free hydrogen.

The Heliogen facility could help support other projects within the city and region, including sustainable aviation fuel for hydrogen-powered aircraft, fueling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles, and sales and distribution of hydrogen fuel for industrial processes such as vertical agriculture, cement, and mining.

This news follows a recent announcement that Heliogen intends to develop a green hydrogen facility on leased land in the Brenda Solar Energy Zone in Arizona. The company also entered into a letter of intent with sustainable fuels-focused Dimensional Energy to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

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TPG Rise acquires fuels testing and certification company

The target firm, AmSpec, increasingly facilitates the penetration of biofuels, hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, and other alternatives throughout the global fuel system.

TPG Rise Climate, the dedicated climate investing strategy of TPG’s global impact investing platform TPG Rise, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire AmSpec Group, Inc., one of the fastest growing Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) companies specializing in energy, commodities, and fuels.

AmSpec’s existing majority shareholder, Olympus Partners, will retain a minority interest in the company. Additional terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Goldman Sachs and Baird served as financial advisors and Morgan Lewis served as legal counsel to AmSpec in relation to the transaction.

Founded in 1986, AmSpec operates an extensive global footprint of over 300 inspection sites and laboratories throughout 61 countries, many of which are located at key industrial centers, ports, or trade hubs. AmSpec’s core service involves testing and certifying the performance and emission qualities of fuels or commodities at each stage along the value chain.

By monitoring and reporting to regulators and independent certification bodies, AmSpec plays a key role in emissions controls and enforcement on conventional fuels, while also increasingly facilitating the penetration of biofuels, hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, and other alternatives throughout the global fuel system.

“As part of its broad set of services, AmSpec has developed deep expertise in the control of pollutants and emissions factors in legacy fuels, and they will play a critical role in processing, testing, and certifying the growing volume of increasingly complex renewable fuels that we see coming online,” said Marc Mezvinsky, Partner at TPG and senior member of its climate investing team. “We are thrilled to be investing in AmSpec’s best-in-class lab network at this inflection point in the global fuels mix, and we look forward to working closely with the management team to enter new markets and accelerate the global energy transition.”

As part of the transaction, Mezvinsky will join AmSpec’s Board of Directors along with TPG Rise Climate’s Roger Stone and Tracy Wolstencroft, a TPG Senior Advisor who served as former president and CEO of both the National Geographic Society and executive search and management consulting company Heidrick & Struggles. He also served as former chair of Goldman Sachs’ clean energy technology practice.

“Our commitment to innovation and service has made us a leader in the industry, and we are excited about what we will be able to accomplish with this new partnership. TPG Rise Climate has the resources, network, and vision to drive our next phase of growth, particularly as global supply chains rapidly change and the flows of critical molecules begin to transition,” said Matt Corr, CEO of AmSpec. “Our team is fully aligned with TPG on capturing the opportunity set in front of us and we are grateful to have Olympus’s continued partnership and support.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory review and customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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Shell sells interest in SouthCoast Wind

Shell has sold its 50% interest in SouthCoast Wind, a proposed offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts with 2.4 GW of capacity.

Shell New Energies US LLC (Shell), a subsidiary of Shell plc, has sold its 50% equity share in SouthCoast Wind Energy LLC (SouthCoast Wind) to joint venture partner Ocean Winds North America LLC (Ocean Winds), according to a news release.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

SouthCoast Wind is a 50-50 joint venture between Shell and Ocean Winds, established to develop offshore wind projects off the coast of Massachusetts.

“In-line with our Powering Progress strategy, Shell continues to hone our portfolio of renewable generation projects in key markets where we have an advantaged position,” said Glenn Wright, Senior Vice President, Shell Energy Americas. “We are grateful to Ocean Winds for their years of partnership within this venture, and continue to seek opportunities to provide more energy, with fewer emissions.”

This deal was structured to simultaneously sign and close, with an immediate effective date.

SouthCoast Wind is developing a proposed offshore wind farm in US federal waters about 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 23 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts with an approximate capacity of 2,400 MW via Lease OCS-A 0521, which covers 127,388 acres. Formerly named Mayflower Wind Energy LLC, this joint venture was established in 2018.

Ocean Winds is a 50-50 offshore wind joint venture owned by EDP Renewables and ENGIE.

In the U.S., Shell is a 50-50 partner in an additional offshore wind joint venture, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC (Atlantic Shores), with EDF-RE Offshore Development, LLC. Atlantic Shores is developing a portfolio of wind farms off the coast of New Jersey and New York.

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Visolis and Ginko Bioworks team up on synthetic rubber and SAF ingredient production

The two companies are leveraging each other to achieve commercial development of a monomer used in the production of synthetic rubber and SAF.

Visolis, a California-based sustainable materials company, has formed a partnership with cell programming and biosecurity firm Ginkgo Bioworks to reach commercial production of a key feedstock ingredient used to make bio-based isoprene and SAF, according to a news release.

Isoprene is a monomer used for commercial scale synthetic rubber production.

“Achieving the production of bio-based isoprene at scale represents a significant step toward decarbonizing tire manufacturing,” the release states. “Isoprene can also be used as an intermediate for high performance, lower carbon intensity sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production.”

Achieving bio-based isoprene production at scale is difficult because the molecule is highly volatile and combustible.

“Visolis has developed a novel process by using a more stable intermediate, making isoprene through a two-step manufacturing process and enabling more efficient and reliable production,” the release states. “Through the partnership with Ginkgo, the two companies are working to further optimize the efficiency of this biomanufacturing process.”

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3Q deals in focus: Macquarie’s investment in Atlas Agro

In one of the largest and most compelling clean fuels deals of 3Q23, Macquarie made a $325m investment into Americas-focused Atlas Agro, a developer of industrial-scale green nitrogen fertilizer plants that utilize green hydrogen as a feedstock. William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas, provides a closer look.

Macquarie Asset Management’s investment into green nitrogen developer Atlas Agro gives the manager a stake in the company along with the ability to invest in the developer’s projects.

The $325m investment, made via the Macquarie GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund, will benefit Atlas Agro’s previously announced fertilizer plant project in Richland, WA, and will also support the company’s global pipeline of green fertilizer facilities, according to William Demas, head of Macquarie Asset Management Green Investments in the Americas.

In addition to the 700,000 tons-per-year Richland project, Atlas Agro is pursuing a project in Minas Gerais, Brazil that will produce 500,000 tons per year. Both projects would make nitrate fertilizer and are estimated to cost $1bn. An additional facility is planned for the US Midwest.

In the production process, the plants utilize air, water, and renewable electricity as the only raw materials.

“There are a number of things that attracted us to Atlas Agro,” Demas said in response to written questions. “They have a strong management team with an established track record managing established companies and delivering projects in the fertilizer space.”

The GIG Energy Transition Solutions fund has a target size of approximately $1.9bn, which to date is just over 50% committed, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Next phase

Equally important for the Atlas investment, Demas added, is that the company is aligned with Macquarie’s next phase energy transition thesis in the US – in this case hydrogen. 

“In this application, green hydrogen will be used as a feedstock rather than as an energy carrier, and the end-product of green fertilizer will attract customers looking to enter into long-term offtake contracts,” he said.

Through the development of plants in Washington state and the US Midwest, Atlas Agro is seeking to take advantage of favorable logistics to displace the need for imported fossil-fuel based fertilizer. Brazil also imports around 95% of its nitrogen fertilizers, according to Atlas.

“An important benefit of Atlas Agro’s model is the availability of locally produced, high-quality fertilizer, eliminating many of the issues associated with international supply chains,” Demas said, noting that offtakers are local to Atlas Agro’s operations.

Further, Macquarie and Atlas plan to pursue a project finance model for funding the projects under development.

“As an infrastructure investor, we focus on opportunities that are bankable, which means, ultimately project financeable,” Demas said. “We backed Atlas Agro because we believe their approach to project development, commercialization, construction and operations aligns with our views on how to underwrite infrastructure investments.”

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Exclusive: Biomethane firm planning funding round

A biomethane solutions provider with projects in Europe and the US is planning a fifth round of funding to launch early next year, with a need to raise additional project debt.

Electrochaea, the US- and Europe-based biomethane developer, will go to market in 1Q24 for a new round of equity funding, with a near term need for project debt as well, two executives told ReSource.

The company, which was spun out from an incubator at The University of Chicago with offices in Denmark, has projects in Denmark, Colorado, New York and Switzerland. It is backed by Baker Hughes and, from early fundraising efforts, Munich Venture Partners, senior director Aafko Scheringa said. The former investor participated in its most recent (fourth) $40m funding round.

Electrochaea uses a patented biocatalyst that converts green hydrogen and carbon dioxide into BioCat Methane, a pipeline-grade renewable gas.

The average size of a project is roughly $25m, Scheringa said.

Funds from the next round will provide three years of working capital, CEO Mitch Hein added.

Electrochaea has not worked with a financial advisor to date, Hein said, adding that he may have need for one for new processes but has not engaged with anyone.

Scheringa said he is working to achieve commercialization on a pipeline of projects, with a 10 MWe bio-methanation plant in Denmark being farthest along with a mandatory start date before 2026.

Electrochaea has a bio-methanation reactor system in partnership with SoCalGas at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy System Integration Facility in Golden, Colorado, though Hein said a project in New York is as advanced in its development.

Bio-methane can be burned in place of natural gas with no systems degradation issues, so gas offtakers are a natural fit for Electrochaea, Scheringa said. Cheap clean electricity paired with available CO2 is critical, so the company will look to places like Texas, Spain, Scandinavia, Quebec and the “corn states” of the US Midwest, for new projects.

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Mobility solutions provider to raise up to EUR 200m

Quantron, the German and US-based mobility solutions provider, is set to launch a capital raise that could entail the sale of up to 20% equity.

Quantron, the German and US-based mobility solutions provider, is set to launch a capital raise that could entail the sale of up to 20% equity, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The company is seeking between EUR 150m and EUR 200m in the process, the sources said, implying a valuation of up to EUR 1bn.

Quantron, which recently expanded into North America with the opening of an office in Detroit, will also consider debt as a part of the raise, one of the sources said.

At a ceremony at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce (DGIC) in Washington D.C. on 12 October, Quantron signed a deal to supply TMP Logistics with 500 Class 8 trucks. The trucks will be operated by Quantron’s as-a-service (QaaS) vertical; they are scheduled for delivery in 2024.

Quantron AG CEO Michael Perschke told ReSource at that event that the company is in discussions with US investors about the capital raise, which has not formally launched but is tentatively scheduled to wrap up in 2Q23. Quantron is also in pre-closure discussions with several US law firms.

A fourth source said Quantron has worked with Danish consulting firm Ramboll Group on past deals.

Perschke said his company has relationships with PwC and EY, the latter especially on IPO readiness.

Quantron in September closed on a EUR 50m Series A with NASDAQ-listed Ballard Power Systems and German machinery manufacturer Neuman & Esser as investors.

Looking forward the company would like to work with a US strategic or private equity interest committed to hydrogen.

Utilities or corporates investing in hydrogen production but still building out the offtake structure would be of interest to Quantron, Perschke said. He noted that private equity interest like Ardian’s HY24 and Beam Capital are also active in the space.

Quantron is in the final stages of a deal with an oil company that Perschke declined to name, but said the company has 2,000 fueling stations across Europe that they are considering for conversion to hydrogen.

Perschke said his company plans to build out its presence in California and then could look for expansion in the northeast, Gulf Coast or Canada. The company aims to be an early mover in US hydrogen-fueled long-haul trucking along with peer Nikola Motor.

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