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Holland & Knight adds partners with hydrogen focus

The firm hired a team of nine energy industry partners from Eversheds.

Holland & Knight has hired a team of nine energy industry partners from Eversheds, according to a press release.

The team is led by energy and renewables partner Ram Sunkara in Houston and tax partner Amish Shah in Washington, D.C.

Sunkara has an industry-recognized multidisciplinary practice advising clients on complex mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, tax equity transactions, project development and construction matters and structured commodity transactions across the electric energy (with a specific focus on renewables and renewable natural gas), oil and gas, transmission and storage, hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration, mining and metals, timber, chemicals and natural resource industries.

Shah provides sophisticated and practical tax advice to clients making investments in the energy sector or seeking to achieve ESG goals, including with respect to production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs) for renewable power, alternative fuels, carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage, hydrogen, biogas property, nuclear and other technologies incentivized through tax credits (including through the Inflation Reduction Act). He represents energy clients in seeking legislative and regulatory changes; in maximizing the value of tax credits, including through “begun construction” strategies; in project development, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and tax equity investments; and in tax controversy at the administrative, trial court and appellate levels.

The group also includes partners Jackson Allen and Kyle Wamstad in Atlanta; Joshua Belcher and Ronnie Dabbasi in Houston; Madeleine Tan in New York; and Alexander Holtan and Susan Lafferty in Washington, D.C. The team’s experience includes corporate transactions, power purchase agreements, project finance and development, equity and debt financing, general tax planning, energy-related tax credits, tax controversy, regulatory and environmental.

The move follows Holland & Knight’s 2021 merger with Thompson & Knight, a Texas-based firm and leader in the energy industry, as well as multiple lateral energy and renewable partner additions over the past several years, the release states. Holland & Knight’s Energy and Natural Resources Group includes more than 220 lawyers in key markets throughout the U.S. and in Mexico and Colombia.

“Since 2018, one important aspect of our business strategy has been to strengthen our energy practice,” said Steven Sonberg, managing partner of Holland & Knight. “The addition of this exceptional team, combined with the strength of the former Thompson & Knight lawyers, our partners in Bogotá and Mexico, as well as other recent partner additions, positions us to provide a full range of services to the international energy industry. Ram, Amish and their team will help us compete for the most sophisticated work across all areas of the industry.”

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Apex’s towering green hydrogen plans

Apex Clean Energy is advancing a colossal green hydrogen hub in West Texas, powered by a planned 6.5 GW of renewable generation capacity.

Apex Clean Energy has towering ambitions for green hydrogen production in Texas.

The Charlottesville, Virginia-based renewable energy firm is developing 6.5 GW of renewable generation capacity in West Texas that would support green hydrogen production, ReSource has learned, making it one of the largest projects of its kind in development in North America.

Part of a green hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and export hub known as “Project Rio,” the renewables encompass multiple sites under development in a cluster of counties roughly 200 miles northwest of San Antonio. The planned production sites also include solar and battery storage facilities co-located with electrolyzers.

Under the plan, the green hydrogen produced on site would be transported via a new 500-mile hydrogen pipeline to Corpus Christi, for potential conversion to derivatives like ammonia or methanol and available for domestic end users or export.

If completed as conceived, the scale and complexity of the project would signify an infrastructural magnum opus for Apex and its partners, and a feather in the cap of the power and energy private equity strategy of Ares Management, the owner of both Apex and EPIC Midstream, which operates pipelines running from outside of Corpus Christi through West Texas. The new hydrogen pipeline would likely be built on EPIC’s existing right of way.

Project Rio represents a potential breakthrough in the realm of sustainability, as much for its sheer size as for its project-on-project-on-project schematics and its intention to utilize produced water from nearby oil and gas drilling operations in water-scarce West Texas.

The size and final siting for the project could still change, as some aspects of development are in early stages, a source close to Apex said. However, Apex’s development team in Texas has held meetings with local landowners, with a website for the project noting 5.8 GW of renewables across multiple projects as of October, 2023. The plan, as currently conceptualized, would call for 6.5 GW of renewables, according to several sources.

“This is a revolutionary project – the largest proposed in North America,” Apex Senior Public Engagement Manager Anna Richey said in a recent promotional video. An Apex spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

One of the Apex green hydrogen production sites, called Big Trail, is located near Eldorado, Texas, but straddles four counties – Menard, Kimball, Sutton, and Schleicher – according to an Apex public affairs campaign

The Big Trail project entails 3.3 GW of renewables, while another project, called Desert Trail, is sized at 1.5 GW, “with an additional 1,000 MW+ of renewable energy likely,” in Irion, Crockett, and Schleicher counties, according to the project website.

In announcing the green hydrogen partnerships in 2022, Apex, Ares, and EPIC noted that the project would “produce green hydrogen and other derivative green fuels in volumes not yet seen in the United States.” The more precise scope of the renewables for the hub has not been previously reported.

In addition to the West Texas hub, Apex is developing more renewables projects in the Texas Panhandle to power further green hydrogen production there, sources said.

World scale

The project’s ambitious purview would put Apex and its partners at the forefront of green hydrogen development in North America. A similarly grandiose project, advanced by Hy Stor in Mississippi, would bring on around 2.7 GW of electrolyzers in the first phase, reportedly powered by twice that capacity through a mix of onshore wind, solar and geothermal energy.

Hydrogen City, a project from Green Hydrogen International and INPEX CORPORATION, is aiming to bring on 3.75 GW of behind-the-meter renewable energy for phase 1 of the project, which is in Duval County, immediately west of Corpus. At an estimated cost of $6bn, it would power 2.2 GW of electrolysis and produce 280,000 tons per year of green hydrogen, with the project size scaling up to 60 GW depending on demand. 

Germany’s RWE, meanwhile, in partnership with Korea’s LOTTE Chemical and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, is pursuing an integrated green and blue ammonia facility, also in Corpus Christi, that would ultimately produce 10 million tons of clean ammonia per year.

Pattern Energy is pursuing a $9bn green ammonia project with a production capacity estimated at 1 million tons of green ammonia per year – again, in Corpus Christi, ReSource has reported.

And elsewhere in Texas, Air Products and AES are developing a green hydrogen production facility in North Texas that would consist of a combined 1.4 GW of wind and solar generation, producing 200 metric tons per day of green hydrogen. The estimated cost of that project is $4bn.

Still, the technological readiness of electrolyzers for green hydrogen production at scale has been called into question by some in the industry. Sanjiv Lamba, the CEO of global chemical company Linde, recently re-emphasized his view that green hydrogen still has a roughly five to seven year runway to reach maturity for large-scale projects, in part because electrolyzer complexes are still unproven at gigawatt scale.

Apex would seek to bring its green hydrogen projects online later this decade, potentially in line with the technology development timeline referenced by Lamba.

Pipeline capacity

Apex, which is majority owned by Ares Management through its Infrastructure and Power strategy, plans to utilize a new dedicated hydrogen pipeline to be built by EPIC Midstream, another Ares portfolio company. 

The pipeline aspect of the green hydrogen hub could boost its cost competitiveness against other developments in the region that will depend on trucking, as gaseous hydrogen shipped via pipeline has been shown to be a more cost-effective method of transport, especially in large volumes and over longer timelines. And experts have said it would make sense to use EPIC’s existing pipeline right of way, on which it can build without having to acquire new land rights or clear trees. 

The Corpus Christi area has approximately 110 miles of existing hydrogen pipelines, while Texas’s larger hydrogen pipeline network is concentrated further east, from Freeport to Houston to Port Arthur. Thus this new pipeline proposal would open up a swath of West Texas to hydrogen transported from renewable energy facilities where, in theory, it can be made cheaply – by Apex and, potentially, by others.

​“We are evaluating overbuilding the capacity of the pipeline to support others injecting,” Apex Policy Manager Laura Merten recently told Canary Media. ​“The goal is to support and help develop this whole hydrogen economy.”

Pattern Energy has previously discussed developing a green hydrogen project in West Texas that would tie in to a hydrogen pipeline for transport to the Gulf Coast.

EPIC has not yet filed a new construction permit for the hydrogen pipeline, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. And no other hydrogen pipelines are currently under construction in the state. Representatives of Ares and EPIC did not respond to requests for comment.

Water sources

Access to water rights can be a thorny issue in West Texas, and Apex has so far found solutions that have avoided backlash from local communities.

Apex previously burnished its green hydrogen chops by developing a 345 MW wind farm under a PPA with Plug Power for a facility in Young County, Texas. The wind farm was subsequently sold to NextEra and commissioned last year, according to local news reports and Apex’s website. The electrolyzer portion of that project is still under construction, Plug Power investor materials show.

For the Young County project, Apex helped to procure water sources for the electrolysis, ultimately working with the city of Graham to help fund and build a wastewater treatment plant, with a third of the water going to the hydrogen production facility and the remaining water used by the city for irrigation.

For Big Trail, Apex has told local officials it plans to use produced water from oil and gas drilling – dodging a potential conflict with landowners over the use of groundwater. 

Another company with plans to split water via electrolysis for an e-methanol plant, ETFuels, ran into concerned local landowners at a recent meeting of the Plateau Underground Water Conservation & Supply District board of directors, which oversees water rights in the area. Instead of using groundwater, ETFuels was told by a landowner to look for alternate sources of water, “much like Apex Clean Energy proposes to do,” according to a local newspaper report.

“As we look ahead to this massive project, multiple times the scale of the previous project, we are looking for other opportunities to partner with local stakeholders and really benefit the communities we work in, and see [water development] as a huge opportunity for us,” Apex’s Merten said on a recent webinar.

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TES moves into North America with appointment of Americas CEO

The Belgium-based company has appointed industry veteran Cynthia Walker to lead a new office in Houston.

TES has appointed Cynthia Walker as CEO of TES Americas and as Chief Strategy Officer of TES Group.

She will head the newly established office in Houston, Texas, according to a news release.

In these new roles, Cynthia will be responsible for building TES’ business in the Americas with an initial emphasis in the US and Canada and for supporting the development of the TES strategic plan and resource allocation. Cynthia joins a fast-growing, dynamic team at TES which is rapidly expanding as the company works towards achieving its objective to deliver affordable, green energy as a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels via its unique and pioneering business model, which combines hydrogen with recycled CO2 to create an efficient, circular, closed net-zero energy loop.

Commenting on the announcement, Marco Alverà, CEO of TES Group, said: “I am delighted to welcome Cynthia to our rapidly expanding and multinational team.  Cynthia is one of the most well-established energy executives and she holds significant expertise in execution, finance, and development. Her in-depth knowledge of the energy sector and broad skill set will fit in perfectly with TES’s game-changing mission to create a net-zero future. Having her on board will further enable us to bolster our growth strategy and our operations particularly in the North American market.”

Cynthia comes with twenty-four years of extensive leadership experience across multiple functional and operational areas within the energy industry, including P&L responsibility, operations, corporate and business development, commercial marketing, strategic planning and financial functions. Before joining TES, Cynthia was most recently Senior Vice President, Midstream & Marketing for Occidental Petroleum Corporation and previously Senior Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Development and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Occidental in 2012, she was a Managing Director within the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs & Co.  She is an independent director of Sempra and Chord Energy.

Cynthia Walker, CEO of TES Americas and Chief Strategy Officer of TES Group, said: “I am thrilled to join the team at TES during this critical time in the industry as participants balance the priorities of providing clean, affordable and reliable energy.  The innovative approach at TES has the potential to unlock all of these priorities today with  North America positioned to play a key role. I look forward to working with my fellow TES teammates to advance our shared ambition to make a positive impact and to create value.”

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IRS releases proposed regulations for 45V

The IRS has proposed strict rules for its approach to clean hydrogen tax credit qualifications.

Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations on the Clean Hydrogen Production Credit established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

A link to the document that will be published in the Federal Register next week is here.

The agencies have taken the so-called three pillars approach for incrementality, temporal matching, and deliverability. These requirements are crucial, the IRS says, for accounting for both existing and new electricity generation from biomass or fossil feedstock, as they inform the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impact of these sources.

The notice of public rulemaking will be open for public comment for 60 days once it is published in the Federal Register.

The NPRM is supported by a technical paper from DOE that considers how to assess lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with hydrogen production using electricity.


  • The incrementality requirement is met if the Electricity Attribute Certificate (EAC) is related to an electricity generating facility with a Commercial Operation Date (COD) no more than 36 months before the related hydrogen production facility was placed in service. This requirement ensures that the energy production contributing to the EAC is relatively recent and relevant to the current energy market conditions​​.
  • Recognizing the difficulty in identifying specific electricity generators and the times and places for incrementality, the IRS is considering alternative approaches, including a proxy approach. This approach would consider five percent of the hourly generation from minimal-emitting electricity generators (like wind, solar, nuclear) to meet the incrementality requirement, still subject to temporal matching and deliverability requirements​​.

Temporal Matching:

  • The temporal matching requirement generally mandates that the EAC represents electricity generated in the same hour as the hydrogen production facility’s consumption of electricity. A transition rule allows, until January 1, 2028, for EACs representing electricity generated in the same calendar year as the hydrogen production to meet this requirement. This approach aims to address significant indirect emissions from electricity use​​.


  • The deliverability requirement stipulates that the EAC must represent electricity generated by a source in the same region as the hydrogen production facility. This ensures a reasonable assurance of the electricity’s deliverability to the intended location​​.

In addition to these specific requirements, the document discusses how these concepts might be applied differently in the context of renewable natural gas (RNG) or biogas, taking into account the different emission sources, markets, tracking methods, and potential incentives​​.

The IRS and the Treasury Department are actively seeking feedback on these proposed regulations, particularly concerning the practical implementation and verification of these requirements.

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Exclusive: Riverstone Credit spinout preparing $500m fundraise

Breakwall Capital, a new fund put together by former Riverstone Credit fund managers, is preparing to raise $500m to make project loans in decarbonization as well as the traditional energy sector. We spoke to founders Christopher Abbate and Daniel Flannery.

Breakwall Capital is preparing to launch a $500m fundraising effort for a new fund – called Breakwall Energy Credit I – that will focus on investments in decarbonization as well as the traditional energy sector.

The founders of the new fund, Christopher Abbate, Daniel Flannery, and Jamie Brodsky, have spent the last 10 years making oil and gas credit investments at Riverstone Credit, while pivoting in recent years to investments in sustainability and decarbonization.

In addition to bringing in fresh capital, Breakwall will manage funds raised from Dutch trading firm Vitol, for a fund called Valor Upstream Credit Partners; and the partners will help wind down the remaining roughly $1bn of investments held in two Riverstone funds.

Drawing on their experience at Riverstone, Breakwall will continue to make investments through sustainability-linked loans across the energy value chain, but will also invest in the upstream oil and gas sector through Valor and the new Breakwall fund.

“We’re not abandoning the conventional hydrocarbon economy,” Flannery said in an interview. “We’re embracing the energy transition economy and we’re doing it all with the same sort of mindset that everything we do is encouraging our borrowers to be more sustainable.”

In splitting from Riverstone Credit, where they made nearly $6bn of investments, the founders of Breakwall said they have maintained cordial relations, such that Breakwall will seek to tap some of the same LPs that invested in Riverstone. The partners have also lined up a revenue sharing arrangement with Riverstone so that interests are aligned on fund management.

The primary reason for the spinout, according to Abbate, “was really to give both sides more resources to work with: on their side, less headcount relative to AUM, and on our side, more equity capital to reward people with and incent people with and recruit people with, because Riverstone was not a firm that broadly distributed equity to the team.”

Investment thesis

A typical Breakwall loan deal will involve a small or mid-sized energy company that either can’t get a bank loan or can’t get enough of a bank loan to finance a capital-intensive project. Usually, a considerable amount of equity has already been invested to get the project to a certain maturity level, and it needs a bridge to completion.

“We designed our entire investment philosophy around being a transitional credit capital provider to these companies who only needed our cost of capital for a very specific period of time,” Flannery said.

Breakwall provides repayable short-duration bridge-like solutions to these growing energy companies that will eventually take out the loan with a lower cost of capital or an asset sale, or in the case of an upstream business, pay them off with cash flow.

“We’re solving a need that exists because there’s been a flock of capital away from the upstream universe,” he added.

Often, Breakwall loan deals, which come at pricing in the SOFR+ 850bps range, will be taken out by the leveraged loan or high yield market at lower pricing in the SOFR+ 350bps range, once a project comes online, Abbate said. 

Breakwall’s underwriting strategy, as such, evaluates a project’s chances of success and the obstacles to getting built. 

The partners point to a recent loan to publicly listed renewable natural gas producer Clean Energy – a four-year $150m sustainability-linked senior secured term loan – as one of their most successful, where most of the proceeds were used to build RNG facilities. Sustainability-linked loans tie loan economics to key performance indicators (KPIs) aimed at incentivizing cleaner practices.

In fact, in clean fuels, their investment thesis centers on the potential of RNG as a viable solution for sectors like long-haul trucking, where electrification may present challenges. 

“We are big believers in RNG,” Flannery said. “We believe that the combination of the demand and the credit regimes in certain jurisdictions make that a very compelling investment thesis.”

EPIC loan

In another loan deal, the Breakwall partners previously financed the construction of EPIC Midstream’s propane pipeline from Corpus Christi east to Sweeny, Texas.

Originally a $150m project, Riverstone provided $75m of debt, while EPIC committed the remaining capital, with COVID-induced cost overruns leading to a total of $95m of equity provided by the midstream company. 

The only contract the propane project had was a minimum volume commitment with EPIC’s Y-Grade pipeline, because the Y-Grade pipeline, which ran to the Robstown fractionator near Corpus Christi, needed an outlet to the Houston petrochemical market, as there wasn’t enough export demand out of Corpus Christi.

“So critical infrastructure: perfect example of what we do, because if your only credit is Y-Grade, you’re just a derivative to the Y-Grade cost of capital,” Abbate said.

Asked if Breakwall would look at financing the construction of a 500-mile hydrogen pipeline that EPIC is evaluating, Abbate answered affirmatively.

“If those guys called me and said, ‘Hey, we want to build this 500-mile pipeline,’ I’d look at it,” he said. “I have to see what the contracts look like, but that’s exactly what type of project we would like to look at.”

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Exclusive: New sustainability hedge fund to raise up to $2bn

A new hedge fund founded by a clean fuels industry veteran is gathering partners to raise up to $2bn initially for deployment into ammonia and other climate-transition technologies.

New Waters Capital, an emerging hedge fund based in New York City, is gathering its primary partners for its first fundraise of between $1bn and $2bn, founder Bill Brown said in an interview.

Brown formerly spent 15 years at North Carolina-based 8 Rivers Capital, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas. Brown, a co-founder, sold his shares to South Korea’s SK, Inc. in that company’s majority takeover of 8 Rivers last year.

Brown recently created New Waters as a multi-strategy fund manager to invest in publicly traded companies in sustainability, AI, and clean fuels.

“The molecule-based economy is really important, and there’s some companies that have been in the molecule-based economy that are not really sure what they’re doing,” Brown said.

This creates an environment ripe for disruption, he said.

The firm is in the process of selecting its prime brokers, which will help determine the size of New Waters’ fundraises, Brown said. The first raise will be conducted in the next six months, and likely not be larger than $2bn to start.

New Waters’ law firm is Seward & Kissel.
The Wild West of molecules

Of all hydrogen produced in the US, about 65% is used for fertilizer production, Brown said. In Japan, where hydrogen is being co-fired with coal, replacing all coal-fired generation with ammonia would require 10 times the current ammonia production of the US.

“The market for molecules is so big, and yet the largest producer in the US of ammonia is CF Industries.” That company has one plant in Louisiana that represents roughly one third of total US ammonia production. “So CF is tiny compared to the opportunities out there.”

Brown said he is looking for the companies that are going to be the Valero and Phillips 66 of ammonia refining. He believes 8 Rivers is on track for something like that.

“We look at companies like that,” he said. “I think that entire market is up for grabs right now; it’s a whole new market.”

 Companies that can seize that market are the companies that are going to be part of the energy system of the future.

“In many respects right now, we’re in the Wild West, if you will, of the molecules of the future,” Brown said.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen adoption and production firm prepping capital raise

A decarbonization services provider is in development on multiple utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the Northeast, Texas and Georgia and is preparing to launch a capital raise in 3Q24.

Celadyne, a Chicago-based decarbonization and hydrogen solutions company, will launch a Series A this year as it continues its role in the development of several utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the US, founder and CEO Gary Ong told ReSource.

A $20m to $30m capital raise will likely launch in 3Q24, Ong said. The company is relying on existing investors from its recent seed round to advise, and the amount could change based on grants.

While the $4.5m seed round allowed the company to focus on transportation mobility, the Series A will be used to do more work on hydrogen production, so the company will be looking for strategics in oil and gas, renewable energy, and utilities.

DLA Piper is the company’s legal advisor, Ong said.

Celadyne has a contract signed with a utility in the Northeast for a small electrolysis demonstration and, following that, a multimillion-dollar project. Discussions on how to finance that latter project are underway.

Additional electrolysis projects in Texas and Georgia are in later discussions, while less mature deals are taking shape with a nuclear customer in Illinois and another project in Southern California, Ong said.

Fuel cell customers (typically OEMs that use hydrogen) to which Celadyne ships equipment are clustered mostly in Vancouver, Michigan and California.

Meanwhile, Celadyne has generated revenues from military contracts of about $1m, Ong said, a source of non-recurring revenue that has prodded the company to look for a fuel cell integration partner specific to the defense application.

‘Blocking hydrogen’

The company, founded in 2019, is focused on solving for the demand and supply issues for which the fledgling US hydrogen market is notorious. Thus, it is split-focused between hydrogen adoption and production.

Celadyne has developed a nanoparticle coating that can be applied to existing fuel cell and electrolyzer membranes.

On the heavy-duty side, such as diesel generators or back-up power, the company improves durability of engines between 3X and 5X, Ong said.

On the electrolysis side, the technology improves rote efficiency by 15%. In production, Celadyne is looking for pilot projects and verification studies.

“We’re very good at blocking hydrogen,” he said. “In a fuel cell or electrolyzer, when you have hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side, you need something to make sure the hydrogen never sees the oxygen,” noting that it improves safety, reduces side reaction chemistry and improves efficiency.

Hydrogen adoption now will lead to green proliferation later should the economics prove out, according to Ong. If not, blue hydrogen and other decarbonized sources will still pave the way to climate stability.

The only negative for that is the apparent cost-floor for blue hydrogen in fuel cell technologies, Ong said, as carbon capture can only be so cost efficient.

“So, if the price floor is say, $3.25 or $3.50 per kg, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it for things like transportation, it just means that it might be hard to use it for things like shipping, where the fuel just has to be cheaper,” Ong said.

Three companies

Celadyne is split into three focus applications: defense, materials, and production. If only one of those wings works, Ong said he could see selling to a strategic at some point.

“If any of those things work out, we ought to become a billion-dollar company,” he said.

If all three work out, Ong will likely seek to do an IPO.

An acquisition could be driven by an acquiror that can help Celadyne commercialize its products faster, he said.

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