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IEA report outlines case for cost reductions in e-fuels

The International Energy Agency assesses needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments for achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030.

The International Energy Agency’s report on the role of e-fuels in decarbonizing transport finds that e-fuels’ cost gap with fossil fuels could substantially reduce by 2030, an important finding for the advancement of a family of emerging e-fuel technologies. 

In the report, which was published last month, the IEA aims to assess the implications of growth in e-fuels in terms of needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments of an assumed goal of achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030. 

For instance, the cost of low-emission e-kerosene might drop to $50/GJ ($2,150 per ton), making it competitive with biomass-based sustainable aviation fuels – but still 2 – 3x more expensive than fossil-based fuels. 

The costs for low-emission e-methanol and e-ammonia could also decrease, opening the door for their use as low-emission fuels in shipping. Interestingly, the production of e-fuels for aviation will also result in a significant amount of e-gasoline as a by-product, the report notes.

In terms of impact on transport prices, a 10% share of low-emission e-fuels would only modestly increase the cost of transport, according to the report. For example, e-kerosene would raise the ticket price of a flight using 10% of e-fuels by only 5%. 

However, the adoption of e-methanol and e-ammonia in shipping will necessitate significant investments in infrastructure and ships. The overall cost for a fully e-ammonia or e-methanol-fueled container ship would be 75% higher than a conventional fossil-fuel-powered ship, yet this represents just 1-2% of the typical value of goods transported in these containers.

The production of e-fuels generally suffers from low efficiency due to multiple conversion steps and losses, leading to high resource and infrastructure demand, according to the report. Producing significant amounts of low-emission e-fuels could increase the demand for renewable electricity by about 2,000 TWh/yr by 2030. This represents about one-fifth of the growth of low-emission electricity expected in this decade under certain policy scenarios. 

The production of e-fuels can exploit the potential of remote locations with high-quality renewable resources and vast land available for large-scale projects. However, achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping would require a significant increase in electrolyser capacity, equivalent to the entire size of the global electrolyser project pipeline to 2030.

The accelerated deployment of low-emission e-fuels for shipping would require substantial investments in refueling infrastructure and vessels, especially for e-ammonia or e-methanol. Achieving a 10% share in shipping would demand approximately 70 Mt/yr of these fuels. The financial investment in shipping capacity and bunkering infrastructure would be substantial, yet represent less than 5% of the cumulative shipbuilding market size over the period 2023-2030.

Producing carbon-containing low-emission e-kerosene and e-methanol would necessitate a massive increase in CO₂ utilization, with significant potential synergy with biofuels production. Around 200 Mt CO₂ would be required for a 10% share of e-kerosene in aviation and 150 Mt CO₂ for the same share in shipping if using e-methanol. 

Access to CO₂ is a major constraint for carbon-containing low-emission e-fuels, and the best wind and solar resources are not always co-located with significant bioenergy resources. Direct air capture (DAC) of CO₂ could provide an unlimited source of CO₂ feedstock without geographic constraints, but it is expected to remain a high-cost option in 2030, the report projects.

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Canadian IPP evaluating H2 production, carbon capture in Alberta

A carbon hub will use existing infrastructure along with new hydrogen production.

Canadian independent power producer Heartland Generation will evaluate hydrogen production and carbon sequestration as part of its Battle River Carbon Hub (BRCH) project, according to a press release.

BRCH will use existing infrastructure at Heartland’s Battle River Generating Station (BRGS) in Alberta, along with new hydrogen production to generate electricity.

The BRCH project also includes an open-access carbon sequestration hub, proximate to the BRGS, that will capture and sequester carbon emissions from Heartland Generation, and other industrial sources in the region.

The company was selected by the Government of Alberta as part of the Carbon Sequestration Tenure Management process.

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ENGIE reaches FID on Australia GH2 project

ENGIE has taken the final investment decision in the development of Project Yuri, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2024.

ENGIE has taken the final investment decision in the development of one of the world’s first industrial-scale renewable hydrogen projects, to be located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, according to a press release.

Scheduled for completion in 2024, the first phase of the Yuri project will produce up to 640 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year as a zero carbon feedstock for Yara Australia’s ammonia production facility in Karratha. This will be key to developing a “Pilbara Green Hydrogen Hub,” serving local and export markets, and building on existing export infrastructure and abundant renewable energy resources in the region.

The Yuri project is being developed with the support of a $47.5m grant from The Australian Government’s ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Fund and a $2m grant by the Western Australian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund.

ENGIE has executed an agreement with Mitsui & Co., Ltd., pursuant to which Mitsui has agreed to acquire a 28% stake in the joint venture company for the Yuri project, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions under the agreement.

ENGIE and Mitsui intend to operate the Yuri project through this joint venture company.

Global law firm DLA Piper advised ENGIE on the development, construction and financing of the first phase of Project Yuri, according to a separate release.

The project will include a 10 MW electrolyser powered by 18 MW of solar PV and supported by an 8 MW battery energy storage system, generating renewable hydrogen for use in Yara Australia’s ammonia facility at Karratha. Permitting is completed, a 100% offtake contract is in place with Yara and construction is set to commence by November 2022, thanks to a consortium made of Technip Energies and Monford Group selected as EPC contractor for the project.

Once commissioned it will be amongst the largest renewable energy powered electrolysis in the world, which will provide lessons to accelerate the hydrogen industry in Australia and demonstrate the ability to integrate electrolysers with ammonia plants, the release states.

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IEA report outlines case for cost reductions in e-fuels

The International Energy Agency assesses needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments for achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030.

The International Energy Agency’s report on the role of e-fuels in decarbonizing transport finds that e-fuels’ cost gap with fossil fuels could substantially reduce by 2030, an important finding for the advancement of a family of emerging e-fuel technologies. 

In the report, which was published last month, the IEA aims to assess the implications of growth in e-fuels in terms of needed cost reductions, resources and infrastructure investments of an assumed goal of achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping by 2030. 

For instance, the cost of low-emission e-kerosene might drop to $50/GJ ($2,150 per ton), making it competitive with biomass-based sustainable aviation fuels – but still 2 – 3x more expensive than fossil-based fuels. 

The costs for low-emission e-methanol and e-ammonia could also decrease, opening the door for their use as low-emission fuels in shipping. Interestingly, the production of e-fuels for aviation will also result in a significant amount of e-gasoline as a by-product, the report notes.

In terms of impact on transport prices, a 10% share of low-emission e-fuels would only modestly increase the cost of transport, according to the report. For example, e-kerosene would raise the ticket price of a flight using 10% of e-fuels by only 5%. 

However, the adoption of e-methanol and e-ammonia in shipping will necessitate significant investments in infrastructure and ships. The overall cost for a fully e-ammonia or e-methanol-fueled container ship would be 75% higher than a conventional fossil-fuel-powered ship, yet this represents just 1-2% of the typical value of goods transported in these containers.

The production of e-fuels generally suffers from low efficiency due to multiple conversion steps and losses, leading to high resource and infrastructure demand, according to the report. Producing significant amounts of low-emission e-fuels could increase the demand for renewable electricity by about 2,000 TWh/yr by 2030. This represents about one-fifth of the growth of low-emission electricity expected in this decade under certain policy scenarios. 

The production of e-fuels can exploit the potential of remote locations with high-quality renewable resources and vast land available for large-scale projects. However, achieving a 10% share of e-fuels in aviation and shipping would require a significant increase in electrolyser capacity, equivalent to the entire size of the global electrolyser project pipeline to 2030.

The accelerated deployment of low-emission e-fuels for shipping would require substantial investments in refueling infrastructure and vessels, especially for e-ammonia or e-methanol. Achieving a 10% share in shipping would demand approximately 70 Mt/yr of these fuels. The financial investment in shipping capacity and bunkering infrastructure would be substantial, yet represent less than 5% of the cumulative shipbuilding market size over the period 2023-2030.

Producing carbon-containing low-emission e-kerosene and e-methanol would necessitate a massive increase in CO₂ utilization, with significant potential synergy with biofuels production. Around 200 Mt CO₂ would be required for a 10% share of e-kerosene in aviation and 150 Mt CO₂ for the same share in shipping if using e-methanol. 

Access to CO₂ is a major constraint for carbon-containing low-emission e-fuels, and the best wind and solar resources are not always co-located with significant bioenergy resources. Direct air capture (DAC) of CO₂ could provide an unlimited source of CO₂ feedstock without geographic constraints, but it is expected to remain a high-cost option in 2030, the report projects.

Read More »

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

See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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exclusive

TC Energy executive talks hydrogen strategy

Canadian midstream giant TC Energy recently unveiled it was pursuing 10 hydrogen projects across North America. To learn more we caught up with Omar Khayum, a vice president at the company in charge of hydrogen project development.

TC Energy is evaluating 10 blue and green hydrogen hubs across North America, viewing incumbency as a significant competitive advantage.

The company is looking to use hydrogen as a means of providing a larger basket of low-carbon solutions to customers, according to Omar Khayum, a TC Energy vice president who is in charge of hydrogen project development. That basket includes mature power generation assets like wind, solar and pumped hydro, Khayum said in an interview, as well as additional firming resources, renewable natural gas, and carbon capture.

“We have a continental platform of customers that are in oil & gas and heavy industry that are looking to decarbonize their existing feedstock,” he said.

TC Energy is partnering with end-use customers, adding capabilities into the partnerships, and sharing in both the risk and benefit of the projects, he said.

“Our incumbency really allows us to partner with end users, and identify customer solutions,” Khayum said. “That’s our business model around de-risking what is a newer form of energy solution.”

Khayum declined to specify where the 10 hydrogen projects are located, other than to say they are proximate to industrial load – existing steelmaking, power plants, chemical facilities and refineries – and are not on the Gulf Coast. TC Energy has announced one project in Alberta which involves an evaluation of its Crossfield gas storage facility and would entail generating 60 tonnes of hydrogen per day with capacity potentially increasing to up to 150 tonnes per day.

In some cases, TC Energy is partnering with the end-use customer to jointly develop the hydrogen projects, Khayum said. “We are the lead developer in most cases but we’re not managing all of the risk ourselves – we’re putting together coalitions with organizations that have upstream and downstream capabilities to make sure we de-risk effectively.”

While conducting project management, TC will use external EPC firms and OEMs to deliver projects, depending on the location and technology in use, Khayum said.

Project funding

As for funding the projects, Khayum said the business model for hydrogen looks similar to the model for liquefied natural gas projects. “We have a wide degree of flexibility in how we can finance projects,” he said, noting the availability of project financing as well as the option to fund projects from TC Energy’s balance sheet.

“We have a number of financial advisors engaged to ensure that as we develop the projects from the offtake agreements to the supply chain agreements – and everywhere in between – those contracts are bankable to provide us the optionality to use project financing,” he said.

Khayum believes that the project finance market is still about 12 months away from being ready to finance hydrogen projects. “That’s because we are one of the early movers in hydrogen development and, as such, we’ll be bringing forward to the marketplace some of the first bankable offtake and supply chain contracts along with risk management tools and activities.”

He noted there was still work to be done among underwriters to validate those contracts for bankability. “We are working over the next year to not only get our projects to FID but working in tandem with our financial advisors to enable the banking system to accommodate those transactions.”

Much of the underwriting requirements have already been well-established in LNG, he noted. “If we can manage risk in a similar fashion,” he added, “we think it will be much more expeditious to achieving a positive FID.”

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