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Illinois RNG facility begins operations

This is Ameresco’s 12th renewable energy project with Republic, with another 10 projects in various stages of development, permitting or construction.

Ameresco, Inc., a cleantech integrator specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, has achieved commercial operation at its landfill gas to renewable natural gas plant at Republic Services’ Brickyard Landfill in Danville, Illinois, according to a news release.

The Brickyard facility has a gross nameplate of over 500,000 Dekatherms per year, with the potential to displace the production of traditional fuel sources and is capable of processing 2,000 scfm of raw landfill gas.

The Brickyard RNG facility captures naturally occurring landfill gas and transforms it into pipeline-grade RNG, a low-carbon transportation fuel. The RNG that is expected to be produced by this facility would reduce over 27,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually if used to displace diesel vehicle fuel, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by planting nearly 326,000 acres of forests.

“At Republic Services, we’re committed to supporting decarbonization, and our partnership with Ameresco has helped us accelerate progress toward our 2030 sustainability goals,” said Tim Oudman, Republic Services SVP, Sustainability Innovation. “Through the Brickyard RNG facility, we’re able to transform naturally occurring biogas into renewable energy for the local community.”

The completion of this project represents a significant step toward a cleaner future, fostering economic growth with tangible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The project directly contributes to Republic Services’ long-term sustainability goal to beneficially reuse 50% more biogas by 2030. This is Ameresco’s 12th renewable energy project with Republic, with another 10 projects in various stages of development, permitting or construction.

“Creating clean energy, reducing harmful emissions and making a tangible impact on the environment towards a carbon-neutral future depends on collaboration,” said Michael Bakas, Executive Vice President of Ameresco. “Through our long-term partnership with Republic Services, we were able to create a dispatchable baseload resource at the Brickyard Landfill. This will turn waste into a reliable source of renewable energy and provide tremendous resiliency to enhance our nation’s security of supply for the years to come.”

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Plastics recycling tech provider strikes insurance partnership

New Energy Risk will provide technology performance insurance to plant owners and operators who license Green Circle’s advanced waste plastic recycling technology.

New Energy Risk, a wholly owned division of Paragon Insurance Group, and Green Circle, a wholly-owned division of Lummus Technology, have forged a strategic partnership in which NER will serve as the preferred insurance supplier for Green Circle’s advanced waste plastic recycling technology.

Upon completing a thorough due diligence process, NER is prepared to provide technology performance insurance solutions to plant owners and operators who license Green Circle’s advanced waste plastic recycling technology. Since 2013, NER’s performance insurance has enabled the financing of over $3bn for development of new and renewable clean energy technologies and other circular economy projects.

“NER provides an extremely valuable service to project owners looking to deploy early-stage technologies at scale through project finance,” said Greg Shumake, managing director of Green Circle. “They thoroughly evaluated our advanced waste plastic pyrolysis technology and are confident in its commercial viability. And as a result, it will be easier for our clients to develop bankable projects to drive a more circular economy.”

The waste plastic pyrolysis technology uses a thermochemical process for turning end-of-life plastics into a high-quality product that can be used to reduce the carbon intensity in the production of both transportation fuels and circular plastics. Green Circle is working across the sector, from Fortune 500 companies to independent project developers, to deploy technologies that close the loop of the plastic product lifecycle.

“Green Circle’s advanced waste plastic pyrolysis technology has been developed with a level of expertise and discipline that is rare,” said Brad Price, managing director of Technical Due Diligence at New Energy Risk. “We are proud to help accelerate the adoption of this technology by providing assurance to owners and investors that this technology will perform.”

Green Circle concentrates and expands Lummus Technology’s capabilities to capture new opportunities in the energy transition and circular economy. Green Circle is a leader in providing economically and technically sound solutions to: process solid wastes containing plastics; process various renewable bio-based feedstocks to value-added chemicals, polymers and fuels; decarbonize refinery and petrochemicals assets; and expand production of blue hydrogen and biofuels.

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Technology in focus: Avnos’ hybrid direct air capture uses water instead of heat

By using water captured from the atmosphere to regenerate its CO2-capturing sorbents, Avnos hopes to cut the operating costs of direct air capture plants and lower barriers to deployment.

One of the challenges of direct air capture (DAC), the new technology that promises to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air all around us, is that it needs a lot of energy, and thus costs a lot of money. Currently, different types of DAC technologies require between 6 and 10 gigajoules per ton of carbon dioxide captured, according to the International Energy Agency.

The key to making a new DAC technology successful therefore is cutting energy needs and costs. Avnos, a Los Angeles-based carbon removal company, is trying to accomplish this by developing what it calls hybrid direct air capture (HDAC), backed by $36m in Series A funding closed in February, and over $80m in strategic and investment partnerships, announced in July

Avnos’ process is described as “hybrid” DAC because it captures both CO2 and water, as humidity, from the atmosphere at the same time. 

“In a generic DAC process, heat is critical to separating the captured CO2 from its ‘sponge,’ or sorbent, and regenerating that sorbent so that a plant may operate cyclically,” Avnos co-founder and CEO Will Kain said in an interview. “By contrast, Avnos uses a reaction enabled by the water it sources from the atmosphere to regenerate its sorbents. The impact of this use of water in the place of heat lowers the operating costs of an Avnos plant and lowers the barriers to deployment.” 

Less heat means less energy, which means companies using Avnos’ technology will have to compete less than regular DAC to access carbon-free energy sources and will have more flexibility in terms of where to put their facilities. 

“Unlike peer DAC companies who build and operate their hardware, our product is designed to be licensed and operated by any company committed to decarbonization and allows them to upgrade, modularly, as the tech advances over the long term,” Kain told ReSource

Avnos has an active pilot plant in Bakersfield, California, funded by the Department Of Energy and SoCal Gas. The plant began operating in November 2023, and it can capture 30 tons of CO2 and produce 150 tons of water annually. 

The company is also in the process of building a second pilot plant with the U.S. Office of Naval Research to pilot CO2 capture and e-fuels production – Avnos does not currently produce e-fuels, but sustainable aviation fuels producers could use its technology to source water and CO2, and it partners with sustainable aviation investors like JetBlue Ventures and Safran. 

Additionally, it is going to use money from its recently announced round of funding to open a research and development facility outside New York City, and it says it’s involved in four of the developing DAC hubs that were selected for funding awards by the DOE: the California Direct Air Capture Hub, the Western Regional DAC Hub, the Pelican-Gulf Coast Carbon Removal, and a fourth undisclosed one.

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Energy Vault appoints United Airlines executive to board

The appointee, Theresa Fariello, has served as senior vice president of Government Affairs & Global Public Policy for United Airlines since 2017.

Energy Vault Holdings, a provider of sustainable grid-scale energy storage solutions, has appointed Theresa Fariello to the company’s Board of Directors effective February 1.

She replaces Henry Elkus, founder and CEO of Helena, a strategic partner and Series B-1 investor in Energy Vault, upon his concurrent departure from the Board.

Fariello has served as senior vice president of Government Affairs & Global Public Policy for United Airlines since 2017. In this role, she leads United Airlines’s federal, state, local, and international government engagement, including environmental affairs. Prior to her role at United Airlines, Fariello served a 16-year tenure at ExxonMobil, where she advised executive leadership on key governmental and policy matters. Prior to her time at ExxonMobil, Fariello served as deputy assistant secretary for International Energy Policy in the Office of International Affairs at the US Department of Energy and held senior leadership positions at Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

“We are honored to welcome Theresa, who brings extensive and valuable experience in government affairs and public policy at leading public companies to Energy Vault’s Board of Directors,” said Robert Piconi, chairman and chief executive officer, Energy Vault. “The recent passage of the IRA is one example of a significant accelerator for our industry and our customers in the United States. Theresa’s leadership and experience will help us fully leverage the opportunities associated with this landmark legislation while strategically optimizing our global approach to working with government organizations in an increasingly complex regulatory and public sector environment. I look forward to working with her as we execute our global growth plans.”

“It is a distinct privilege to join Energy Vault’s Board of Directors,” said Theresa Fariello. “I am inspired by Energy Vault’s mission and commitment to creating a cleaner, more sustainable future. As the need to address and combat climate change becomes ever more urgent, so too does the need to shape environmental and climate policy to accelerate the deployment of innovative solutions, such as Energy Vault’s energy storage technologies. I welcome the opportunity to work alongside the rest of my fellow board members, and I look forward to lending my voice and experience to the company as it continues to grow.”

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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

Renewables developer exploring move into green hydrogen

North Carolina-based Strata Clean Energy is engaged with engineers and consultants in preparations for a potential move into the production of green hydrogen.

Strata Clean Energy, the North Carolina-based utility-scale renewables developer, is researching locations in the U.S. where it could potentially build a green hydrogen production plant, executives said in an interview.

“We’ve been doing some hydrogen work for the past few years,” said Tiago Sabino Dias, former CEO of Crossover Energy, which was acquired by Strata in a deal announced this week. That forward momentum on green hydrogen and other areas of the energy transition was part of the reason the deal with Strata was made, he said.

Sabino Dias is now the senior vice president of origination at Strata following the takeover.

“We’ve done a lot of work thinking about where the high-value locations are,” Strata’s Chief Development Officer Josh Rogol said in a separate interview.

Hydrogen is adjacent to Strata’s core competencies in energy storage, Rogol said. The company is confident it could supply the green kilowatt hours for hydrogen production and is researching offtake scenarios in transportation and industrial uses.

Strata has a 13 GW project pipeline of standalone and combined solar and storage, according to its website, with 4 GW under management.

The company’s IPP has about 1 GW with ambitions to grow, Rogol said. It’s go-forward pipeline comprises more than 100 projects across 26 states.

Strata is now engaged with several consultants and engineers to explore green hydrogen opportunities, Rogol said. The company is open to new advisory relationships across verticals.

“We think we are really well positioned to be both the energy supplier, as well as the molecule producer,” Rogol said. The capabilities and intellectual property acquired through Crossover put the firm six to 18 months ahead of other nascent developers.

Early-stage development in green hydrogen can be funded with Strata’s balance sheet, similar to Strata’s bilateral takeover of Crossover, Rogol said. Later stage development and EPC will require “an ecosystem of partners” potentially both financial and strategic, he added.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen blank-check deal and capital raise on track

A de-SPAC deal and associated capital raise for a hydrogen technology and project development firm are still on track to close this year, despite this year’s busted SPAC deals and sagging hydrogen public market performance.

H2B2 Technologies is still on track to close a de-SPAC deal and related capital raise before the end of this year, CEO Pedro Pajares said in an interview.

Spain-based H2B2 announced the deal to be acquired by RMG Acquisition Corp. III and go public in a $750m SPAC deal in May. In tandem, Natixis Partners and BCW Securities are acting as co-private placement agents to H2B2 for a capital raise that the company must close as part of the acquisition.

The company said recently in filings that the deal as well as the capital raise would close before the end of 2023, a fact that Pajares reiterated in the interview. He declined to comment further.

Many publicly traded hydrogen companies have dropped significantly in value in recent months, and dropped further on Friday following news from Plug Power that it would need to raise additional capital in the next 12 months to avoid a liquidity crisis.

Meanwhile, there have been 55 busted SPAC deals this year, according to Bloomberg, with Ares Management’s deal for nuclear tech firm X-Energy the latest to not close.

Expansion

H2BE recently inaugurated SoHyCal, its first facility in Fresno, California, and wants to get the message out to offtakers in California’s Central Valley that it has hydrogen available to sell.

“What we want to show is that H2B2 is the solution for those who are seeking green hydrogen in the Central Valley,” Pajares said.

Phase 1 (one ton per day) of the plant was funded by a grant from the California Clean Energy Commission. Phase 2 (three tons per day) will involve transitioning to solar PV power, and the company could consider a project finance model to finance the expansion, though Pajares believes the market is not yet ready to finance hydrogen projects.

In addition to project development, the company is also an electrolyzer manufacturer. It is focusing its efforts in the California market on future projects that are larger than SoHyCal, as well as those related to individual offtakers, Pajares said. End users will be in mobility and fertilizer, with offtake occurring via long-term contracts as well as through spot market transactions.

The company is pursuing developments in other regions of the US as well, he added, declining to name specific areas.

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