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HIF Global takes Japanese investment for eFuels projects

The investment by Idemitsu completes the first step in the four-part cooperation including investment, purchase of eFuels, development of the eFuels markets in Japan and creation of CO2 supply chains.

HIF Global , the Houston-based eFuels company, has taken a combined investment from existing shareholders and the Japanese energy company Idemitsu Kosan totaling $164m to fund projects, according to a news release.

Idemitsu joins a premier group of existing HIF investors, including AME, EIG, Porsche, Baker Hughes, and Gemstone Investments.

Cesar Norton, President & CEO of HIF Global: “We are very thankful for the support of our shareholders to continue developing a portfolio of eFuels facilities around the world that can recycle approximately 25 million tonnes per year of CO2, equivalent to the emissions from over 5 million cars.”

Susumu Nibuya, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Idemitsu Kosan: “To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we have decided to initially focus our resources on e-methanol, along with blue ammonia and SAF. We are eager to learn from HIF Global, a pioneer in e-methanol with extensive expertise in this field. Together, we aspire to develop a market for e-methanol and synthetic fuels.”

The investment by Idemitsu completes the first step in the four-part cooperation previously announced, which included investment, purchase of eFuels, development of the eFuels markets in Japan and creation of CO2 supply chains.

The development of the Japanese market for eFuels is accelerating and is supported by Japanese policymakers in the Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050.

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Climate Adaptive Infrastructure, DigitalBridge to collaborate on renewable diesel and green hydrogen strategies

The firms will include renewable diesel and green hydrogen as part of a joint effort to identify and invest in sustainability-focused initiatives.

Climate Adaptive Infrastructure and DigitalBridge Group, Inc. today announced a decarbonization partnership to accelerate the Digital Infrastructure ecosystem’s transition to Net Zero.

CAI, an infrastructure investment firm specializing in low-carbon real assets in the energy, water and urban infrastructure sectors will work with DigitalBridge to identify, develop and invest in sustainability-focused initiatives and projects that complement DigitalBridge’s existing and future investments.

As part of the partnership, CAI has allocated up to $300m of capital to support strategic opportunities identified by CAI and DigitalBridge.

CAI’s first investment under the initiative is in Switch, a 100% renewable powered data center platform, which a DigitalBridge-managed investment entity acquired last year. In addition, the parties have identified other potential investment opportunities within the DigitalBridge portfolio that address measurable decarbonization and water and energy resilience.

As a thought leader in the climate adaptive infrastructure industry, CAI will work with DigitalBridge to implement technologies from within and beyond the DigitalBridge portfolio. These include deployment of utility-scale solar and wind, low-impact hydro, electrochemical and pumped storage, water conservation and re-use, renewable biodiesel and green hydrogen, as well as the advanced climate impact measurement strategies developed by CAI. These projects, which may be financed, built, owned and operated by CAI, are expected to support DigitalBridge’s Net Zero 2030 commitment, and to drive economic efficiency across the DigitalBridge digital ecosystem.

“The DigitalBridge team is broadly recognized for their success in the sector and, through this initiative, continues to demonstrate forward thinking around further decarbonizing their ecosystem,” said Bill Green, managing partner of CAI. “We are excited to be launching this innovative partnership with DigitalBridge.”

“We are pleased to partner with Bill and the entire CAI team to accelerate DigitalBridge’s path towards a more sustainable digital infrastructure ecosystem,” said Marc Ganzi, CEO of DigitalBridge.

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Carbon removal firm spins out of UCLA contracted with Boeing

Equatic has a pre-purchase agreement with Boeing for its carbon-negative hydrogen and currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Carbon removal company Equatic recently spun out from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management to deploy the first technology combining CO2 removal and carbon-negative hydrogen generation, according to a news release.

Alongside the launch, Equatic is announcing that it has entered into a pre-purchase option agreement with Boeing, a leading global aerospace company. Under the agreement, Equatic will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and will deliver 2,100 metric tons of carbon-negative hydrogen to Boeing.

“The oceans are the world’s largest reservoir of carbon dioxide. One quarter of the world’s daily CO2 emissions are drawn down into the ocean,” the release states. “Equatic’s technology accelerates and amplifies this natural cycle to remove and durably store CO2. The entire removal and sequestration process happens within the boundaries of an industrial carbon removal plant, enabling Equatic to precisely measure CO2.”

Equatic currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. One hundred percent of the CO2 removed from these pilots has been pre-sold, including via pre-purchase agreements with global payment solution provider, Stripe.

Equatic expects to reach 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons of carbon removal for less than $100 per metric ton by 2028.

“Furthermore, Equatic will become a dominant producer of carbon-negative hydrogen — hydrogen created from processes that reduce atmospheric CO2,” the release states. “The hydrogen will be sold as a clean energy source to decarbonize industrial processes, produce electricity for the transportation sector, create Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and fuels for trucking, and power the Equatic technology itself.”

Equatic emerges from UCLA with over $30m in initial funding including grants and equity investments from organizations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, YouWeb Incubator, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, PUB: Singapore’s National Water Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

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EU-backed Neev Fund invests in India-based hydrogen developer

Green hydrogen developer Hygenco aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco Green Energies Pvt. Ltd (Hygenco), a green hydrogen developer, has received a GBP 22m investment from the Neev II Fund, a climate and sustainability focused fund backed by the UK and EU governments, according to a news release.

The investment will enable Hygenco to commercialize its early pipeline, as it aims to deploy over $300m in green hydrogen projects across India in the next three years.

Hygenco, which deploys scaled-up commercially attractive green hydrogen solutions, will build-own-operate multiple green hydrogen facilities across the country. Founded by professionals having decades of experience in renewable energy, project development and consulting, the investment by Neev will give an impetus to large-scale Green Hydrogen deployment in India.

Neev II Fund along with its predecessor Neev I Fund are managed by SBICAP Ventures, which has backing from the UK government through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It is also backed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Neev I Fund, launched in 2015, has invested into 10 companies in diverse clean energy, Agri supply chain and social infrastructure sectors. Neev II Fund is the successor fund launched in June 2021 that seeks to provide growth and expansion capital to companies offering solutions for clean energy, electric vehicles, efficient use of raw materials, and water and circular economy projects in the country.

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Ammonia-to-power company planning up to $500m Series C

Ammonia-to-power start-up Amogy will launch a final equity raise once it establishes revenue milestones in 2023 and 2024

Amogy, an ammonia-to-power technology start-up, will likely launch a $400m to $500m Series C late next year, CEO Seonghoon Woo said in an interview.

The company should achieve its first revenues this year and grow those revenues in 2024 to reach a target valuation, Woo said. The company to date has not used a financial advisor.

Amogy is planning to use proceeds from a recent Series B-1 capital raise to expand into a Houston manufacturing facility as it seeks to bring its product to the market.

After demonstrating its technology on a drone, a tractor, and a semi truck, the company is currently working to install its ammonia-cracking technology on a tugboat, and plans to advance a commercialization strategy starting in 2024, Woo said.

The proceeds of the $139m capital raise announced last week will allow Amogy to expand into an already-built facility in Houston, Woo said. The company also plans to roughly double its workforce from 110 employees currently as it boosts capacity in R&D, manufacturing, and commercialization.

CEO Seonghoon Woo

Amogy was founded in 2020 by four MIT PhD alumni, including Woo, and is based in Brooklyn, New York.

Ammonia vs hydrogen

Woo believes using ammonia as a fuel and cracking it into hydrogen solves the transportation issues facing hydrogen, as ammonia is already a widely traded global commodity.

Similarly, at room temperature, ammonia can be stored as a liquid with only mild pressure (~8 bar), compared to the cryogenic requirements for liquid hydrogen.

And, according to a white paper commissioned by Amogy, the volumetric energy density of liquid ammonia is 12.7 megajoules per liter, which is higher than for liquid hydrogen at 8.5 MJ/L and compressed hydrogen at 4.7 MJ/L (at a pressure of 69 MPa in ambient temperature conditions), but lower than for diesel or gasoline.

“Over an equivalent distance, fueling a vehicle solely using ammonia would require approximately three times the internal tank volume needed for conventional diesel fuel but three times less than the volume required for compressed hydrogen,” the paper reads.

While Amogy’s technology is compatible with any color ammonia, Woo said regulations in Scandinavia and Europe give confidence that the global market for clean ammonia will become competitive with fossil-based fuels.

Scaling up

The recent capital raise gives Amogy roughly two years of runway before additional fundraising might be needed, at which point the company will have more visibility into revenue growth, Woo added.

The latest funding round was led by SK Innovation, joined by other global investors including Temasek, Korea Zinc, Aramco Ventures, AP Ventures, MOL PLUS, Yanmar Ventures, Zeon Ventures and DCVC.

The company previously raised roughly $70m in three separate funding rounds, with proceeds allowing it to demonstrate the drone, heavy-duty tractor, and semi truck. Woo said the tractor project drew interest from John Deere, which sent representatives to observe and offer some assistance on the retrofit.

In previous capital raises, Woo said Amogy has encountered investor reluctance to enter what is considered an early market with regulatory and economic risk, with some investors wanting to wait as much as another two years before gaining exposure to the market. The strongest interest has come from upstream producers.

Amogy plans to continue scaling up its technology in the maritime industry to cargo and container ships as well as offshore supply vessels, Woo said.

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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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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