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Hydrogen Council launches forum to connect industry CEOs with investors

The initiative aims to foster a dialogue between industrial leaders in hydrogen and the world’s leading investors to accelerate the development of the clean hydrogen economy.

The Hydrogen Council and The One Planet Sovereign Wealth Funds (OPSWF) Network today launched a Joint Forum aimed at advancing decarbonization with clean hydrogen and derivatives.

This initiative will foster a dialogue between industrial leaders in hydrogen and the world’s leading investors to accelerate the development of the clean hydrogen economy and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reduction and climate change mitigation in line with the Paris Agreement. The Joint Forum will also work on unlocking the potential of the hydrogen economy in emerging and developing markets to boost green industrialization and sustainable economic growth.

The OPSWF Network brings together 47 investors with over USD 37 trillion in assets under ownership and management. The Hydrogen Council, a global coalition of CEOs, brings together 150 industrial leaders representing some USD 8.2 trillion in market capitalization, 6.8 million FTEs worldwide, and some USD 5.2 trillion in revenues. CEO leaders of the Hydrogen Council and the OPSWF Network form a strong partnership with a shared vision to drive just transition towards a more sustainable energy future.

This purpose-driven collaboration will focus on alignment on sustainability standards and certification solutions for clean hydrogen and derivatives, which are key to facilitate global, cross-border trade, as well as accelerate project execution and all forms of financing.

A key objective of the Joint Forum is to help unlock the development of this new industry in emerging and developing markets, supporting a just and equitable transition to net zero and green industrialization.

The Joint Forum will set out an 18-month roadmap of action, focusing on three priorities:

  1. Supporting mutual recognition of certification schemes for clean hydrogen and derivatives to foster international trade in hydrogen and derivatives, maximizing both climate and socio-economic benefits of clean hydrogen at a global scale. This is a key prerequisite to advance cross-border projects from proposals to final investment decisions.
  2. Fostering uptake of common global industry standards which are technically feasible and scientifically robust. Global standards developed by Standard Development Organizations will play a key role in informing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting frameworks for investors in this new asset class.
  3. Unlocking environmental and socio-economic benefits of the hydrogen economy in emerging and developing countries. The Joint Forum will seek to advance capacity building and knowledge sharing coupled with financing solutions to boost green industrialisation in emerging and developing markets.

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Japan’s Mitsui invests in major US hydrogen-ammonia project

A Mitsui subsidiary is now a JV shareholder in the $7.5bn Ascension Clean Energy hydrogen-ammonia project.

MOL Clean Energy, US (MCE), a subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), and Clean Hydrogen Works, LLC (CHW) have announced MCE as a JV shareholder in Ascension Clean Energy (ACE), a proposed world-scale, clean hydrogen-ammonia production and export facility in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, according to a news release.

Other shareholders are CHW, Denbury Inc., and Hafnia.

Expected to produce 7.2 million metric tons of clean hydrogen-ammonia annually, ACE will help meet the rapidly emerging demand for affordable, secure, and low-carbon fuels and feedstock around the world. This clean energy will help decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors including power generation, bunker fuel, heavy transportation, steel processing and industrial applications.

“Clean hydrogen-ammonia is critical to decarbonizing the global energy market,” said Tomoaki Ichida, CEO, MCE, “With this innovative project, MOL is investing not only for our future growth, but also helping promote the development and adoption of clean hydrogen-ammonia within our fleet and customer base,” Ichida added.

As one of the world’s largest shipping companies, MOL is well-positioned to help develop safe, sustainable, and efficient solutions to ship ACE’s clean hydrogen-ammonia to emerging clean energy markets across the globe.

With a projected investment of $7.5bn, ACE is expected to generate approximately 1,500 construction jobs over five years and 350 permanent, full-time jobs with an annual average wage of more than $116,000, once fully operational. ACE is expected to create an additional 626 jobs in Ascension Parish, along with nearly $2.2bn in new sales in firms across Louisiana. The project provides an opportunity for local residents to be at the forefront of the clean energy transition and project shareholders are committed to working with the community and education leaders to provide pathways to additional training in support of these new job opportunities for the local workforce.

“With the rapidly evolving macro-environment, the world’s net zero goals must be increasingly coupled with affordability and security of energy supply,” said Mitch Silver, CHW senior vice president and chief operating officer, “MOL’s practical yet visionary approach to decarbonization will add critical capabilities and insights to support ACE in delivering on its mission to provide customers with affordable and large-scale clean energy solutions.”

ACE is committed to achieving among the world’s lowest lifecycle carbon intensity by capturing up to 98% of CO2 emissions from its processes, as well as actively managing upstream CO2 and methane emissions. Helping reduce the world’s carbon footprint is a critical component in protecting our environment for future generations.

Project shareholders are committed to transparency and open, two-way communication with ACE stakeholders throughout this process and will work collaboratively to develop a project of which both the company and community can be proud.

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Nuclear-to-hydrogen projects awarded by the DOE

GE and Westinghouse were awarded DOE grants to expand hydrogen production using nuclear energy.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $22.1m to 10 industry-led projects, including two aimed at expanding clean hydrogen production with nuclear energy.

General Electric Global Research (Niskayuna, NY) will scale-up co-electrolysis technology to produce a carbon-neutral aviation fuel and demonstrate a conceptual design with an advanced nuclear reactor.

Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC (Cranberry Township, PA) will carry out a series of engineering studies that will provide insights on coupling hydrogen technology with existing nuclear reactors.

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FuelCell Energy reaches COD on Connecticut fuel cell plant

The 7.4 MW project on the U.S. Navy Submarine Base is financed in part through a previously announced tax equity financing transaction with East West Bank.

FuelCell Energy, Inc. completed site construction and commencement of commercial operations (COD) for its project on the U.S. Navy Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut on December 16, 2022, according to a news release.

Achieving commercial operations of this project adds 7.4 MW to the company’s generation operating portfolio, bringing the total to 43.7 MW, although the project will operate at approximately 6 MW during the first year of operation.

“We are excited to announce COD of our grid resiliency and micro-grid ready clean energy project at the U.S. Navy Submarine Base, bringing cleantech innovation to our country’s most critical infrastructure,” said Jason Few, president and chief executive officer, FuelCell Energy. “FuelCell Energy is proud to deliver a solution that supports the Navy’s decarbonization goals while encouraging clean energy partnerships and policies that enable the deployment of crucial grid modernization technology needed for the electrical grid in Connecticut and around the world.”

The project is financed in part through a previously announced tax equity financing transaction with East West Bank for $15m contributed to the project over three years.

This milestone partnership is East West Bank’s first fuel cell project, a testament to the value proposition of FuelCell Energy’s differentiated clean energy platforms.

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California renewables firm in talks for green fuel co-development

A utility-scale solar and storage developer based in California has started outreach and discussions to have green fuels projects co-developed at some of its larger sites in the western US.

RAI Energy, the California-based solar and storage developer, has started to engage with other companies about developing green fuels along with its utility-scale projects, CEO and owner Mohammed S. Alrai said in an interview.

RAI recently took a development loan from Leyline Renewable Capital. That transaction ends a process launched by Keybanc first reported by The Hydrogen Source.

Alrai remains the 100% equity owner, he said. The liquidity from Leyline will last about two years.

The company’s most impending projects are in Colorado and California, Alrai said. Discussions around green fuels envision a partner coming in as a co-developer and customer for RAI’s renewable power.

“We’re definitely open to entering into conversations with all stakeholders,” Alrai said, adding that the effort could require capital raising. “We will be coming to the market to potentially raise equity.”

RAI is moving toward long-term ownership and operation of projects, he said. The company could also sell projects to raise capital.

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Exclusive: World Energy GH2 targeting early 2025 FID

World Energy GH2 is aiming to reach FID early next year – and advancing project financing discussions with a pair of advisors – on the $5bn phase 1 green ammonia development in Newfoundland and Labrador known as Project Nujio’qonik. We spoke to Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet in detail about the project.

World Energy GH2, the developer of a green ammonia export project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is aiming to reach FID in early 2025 on phase 1 of Project Nujio’qonik, Managing Director and CEO Sean Leet said in an interview.

Phase 1 of the project entails the construction of a 1 GW wind facility and 600 MW of electrolysis for an estimated cost of $5bn, Leet said. Once complete, the first phase of Project Nujio’qonik is expected to produce approximately 400,000 tonnes of green ammonia for export.

The developer is working with Green Giraffe and RBC Capital Markets to advance a project financing deal, the same advisors that assisted World Energy GH2 on a $95m loan from Export Development Canada, announced last week.

The debt-to-equity split for the $5bn capital raise is still being iterated as the company looks at financing options with the available government subsidies and potential support from export agencies, Leet said. The company has not yet lined up an arranger for debt financing and expects to make a decision on that role at a later date, he added.

A schedule update is in progress as part of the project’s FEED readiness assessment. This update, considering factors such as long lead item availability and offtaker delivery requirements, is a required step before the start of FEED and is expected to be released around April 15. 

The FEED readiness assessment, Leet said, “is a process that we’ve undertaken with some value engineering due to some learnings from the pre-FEED deliverables and some other aspects of just making sure we’re well prepared for FEED so we can execute flawlessly on that.”

Leet expects the FEED process will take between nine and 12 months, setting the developer up for an FID in early 2025. As part of a competitive bidding process, World Energy GH2 was awarded four different Crown land sites, each capable of producing 1 GW of wind power, allowing for additional phases up to 4 GW of renewables.

Newfoundland, the distant Canadian island where Project Nujio’qonik is located, has become a hotbed of green ammonia project activity due to its exceptional wind resource, with as many eight major projects springing up (see, and zoom, on map).

Investment outlook

The Canadian government has promulgated a clean hydrogen investment tax credit of up to 40% on certain expenses, available until 2035. And in its most recent budget, the government floated the idea of providing contracts for difference to help de-risk emission-reducing projects. 

Leet believes that the CfD arrangement, which will be administered by the Canada Growth Fund, will be tied to the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance, an agreement that promotes clean hydrogen trade ties between the two nations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed the accord at World Energy GH2’s site in Stephenville, with the aim of shipping hydrogen or ammonia by 2025 – a timeline that looks increasingly stretched. And World Energy GH2 earlier this year became the first North American member of Germany’s Port of Wilhelmshaven's energy hub.

“Those details haven’t been announced yet but we’re hopeful that the CfD mechanism is there to work alongside the ITC,” Leet said.

Additional financing could come from more export credit agencies “in the countries you would expect” that would support local companies providing equipment to Project Nujio’qonik. “That will be a very likely piece of our financing arrangement.”

World Energy GH2 is in discussions with various offtakers, but will be able to engage in greater detail once the ITC and CfD subsidies are clarified, and once the project receives its environmental permit, Leets said. 

World Energy GH2 was set up as a standalone Canadian company with the sole purpose of executing on Project Nujio’qonik. It is owned by its founders along with SK ecoplant, the environment and energy arm of Korea’s SK Group, which took a 20% stake in the company – and also the project – for $50m.

Gene Gebolys, the founder and CEO of World Energy LLC, a provider of low-carbon fuels, is also a founder of Project Nujio’qonik. And John Risley, another partner of the Canadian project, is a co-owner of World Energy LLC.

Support from existing investors along with the Export Development Canada facility announced last week make the project entity well capitalized to move “expeditiously” through FEED to FID, Leet said.

Canada to Europe

World Energy GH2 is talking to the major ammonia players about a scale-up of import capacity on European shores.

Leet noted specifically that the Antwerp-Bruges port has plans to scale up to handle the increased amounts of ammonia imports, for use in the various industries located in Belgium and potentially on to Germany from there.

Three companies – Fluxys, Advario Stolthaven Antwerp, and Advario Gas Terminal – have said they are considering constructing an open-access ammonia import terminal at the port of Antwerp-Bruges. Air Liquide also said it will build an ammonia cracking facility there.

The Port of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, where World Energy GH2 is a member of the energy hub, has similar plans to scale up, with various companies evaluating ammonia import terminals and cracking facilities.

Meanwhile, Leet said the ammonia product that it ships to Europe, in addition to benefiting from Canadian subsidies and tax credits, will also comply with the EU’s RFNBO standards.

The project has existing grid and water connections already at the Port of Stephenville, since the hydrogen plant will be built on top of a former paper mill which consumed both water and electricity. 

“So we're fortunate to have that grid connection available to us and the power in the Newfoundland grid is well over 90% existing hydro,” Leet said. “So between that and our wind power, we will have no issue meeting the standard set by the EU for green hydrogen and it will be 100% RFNBO compliant.”

The company is working on regulatory certification with multiple bodies but has not finalized a provider.

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Exclusive: Methanol electrolyzer start-up gearing up for seed capital raise

An early-stage technology company seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that produces methanol from CO2 at ambient temperature and pressure is preparing its first capital raise.

Oxylus Energy, a methanol technology and project development start-up, is preparing to kick off its first capital raise later this month.

The Yale-based firm is seeking to raise $4m in seed funding, with proceeds funding the advancement of a production-scale CO2-to-methanol electrolyzer cell and its first commercial agreements for offtake, CEO Perry Bakas said in an interview.

Oxylus aims to commercialize an electrolyzer that creates methanol from CO2 at room temperature and pressure, and also plans to develop and operate its own methanol production plants, he said.

The technology, which will scale to larger versions in coming years, recently hit a key milestone with the validation of a 5cm2 platform.

The seed capital raise would provide approximately 26 months of runway, according to Bakas. The company would then raise between $20 – $30m in a follow-on Series A in late 2026.

“What we’re gonna do with the Series A is put that first electrolyzer into the ground,” he said. “It’ll be our first revenue-producing methanol.”

Oxylus is currently owned by Bakas and his fellow co-founders. The company has been entirely grant funded to this point. DLA Piper is advising as the law firm on the seed capital raise.

“I think the most important thing about the technology is it’s the most energy-efficient pathway to making renewable methanol,” he said. “At the right energy prices, you’re below cost parity with fossil-derived methanol. When that happens, I think it’ll become a very interesting development scenario.”

Oxylus is focused on bringing the so-called green premium down to zero, Bakas said, noting that it requires achieving scale in electrolyzer production or partnering with established electrolyzer manufacturers.

Methanol for shipping

Oxylus will seek to introduce its technology into target markets that are already using methanol as a feedstock, like high-value petrochemicals. In the longer term, shipping and aviation are likely to become attractive markets. Taken together, the company believes methanol has the potential to decarbonize 11% of global emissions.

Methanol will compete with ammonia for primacy as a shipping fuel in the future, but Bakas believes methanol is the better option.

“These are massive markets – they need a lot of solutions, and quickly,” he said. “But ammonia is not energy dense, and it doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure.”

The International Energy Agency recently projected that while ammonia will be cheaper to make, methanol is easier to handle, resulting in roughly similar cost profiles for e-methanol and green ammonia. The added cost for methanol production, the report found, is likely to come from a scarcity of biogenic CO2.

On that topic, Bakas acknowledged that the methanol pathway still requires combustion of carbon, but emphasized his technology’s ability to displace existing fossil fuel-based methanol production.

“The distinction we need to make is: are these virgin hydrocarbons or are they recycled hydrocarbons? If you’re just continuously pumping new CO2 out of the ground into the atmosphere, you’re gonna continue to cause climate change,” he said.

“The technologies that we are building in this suite of technologies that cover direct air capture, point source capture, carbon conversion, that whole CCUS world,” he added, “are really working to monitor and create a homeostasis in the atmospheric balance of CO2.”

Oxylus recently completed a lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, Bakas said, finding that its fuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% at optimal voltage compared to natural gas steam methane reforming.

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