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Japan’s ENEOS makes investment in Gulf Coast hydrogen project

Established by Azimuth Capital Management, MVCE is developing a large plant for the manufacture of hydrogen, MCH, and ammonia to supply Japan.

ENEOS Corporation has made an equity investment in MVCE Gulf Coast, LLC, according to a news release.

MVCE seeks to produce clean hydrogen in the Gulf of Mexico and build a clean hydrogen supply chain between Japan and the US.

“ENEOS is working to build low-cost, stable clean hydrogen supply chains in Japan and overseas,” the release states. “As one aspect of the
initiative, ENEOS is investigating the joint production of hydrogen with business partners in Asia, the Middle East, and Australia as well as the production and transportation of methylcyclohexane (MCH),  an effective medium for the efficient form of hydrogen storage and transportation.”

Established by Azimuth Capital Management, MVCE is developing one of the world’s largest plants for the manufacture of hydrogen, MCH, and ammonia in
the Gulf of Mexico. Through its equity participation, ENEOS will verify the commercial feasibility of manufacturing cost-competitive and clean hydrogen in the Gulf of Mexico and exporting MCH to Japan.

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Plug Power and Fortescue evaluating hydrogen co-investment opportunities in North America

Plug and Fortescue have started the initial diligence process for Fortescue to take up to a 40% equity stake in Plug’s Texas hydrogen plant and for Plug to take up to a 25% equity stake in Fortescue’s proposed Phoenix hydrogen plant.

Plug Power, a provider of hydrogen solutions for the green hydrogen economy, is currently the preferred supplier of 550 MW electrolyzers to Fortescue, a global green energy and metals company, for Fortescue’s proposed Gibson Island Project, according to a news release.

Fortescue and Plug have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to evaluate the potential supply of a range of capital equipment including electrolyzers, liquefiers, tanker trailers and stationary storage tanks for green hydrogen production projects in North America, including Fortescue’s proposed Phoenix hydrogen plant (30 metric tons per day (MTPD) phase 1; 120 MTPD phase 2). Both parties are also looking to collaborate on additional large projects on a global basis.

Under the terms of the MOU, Plug and Fortescue will also evaluate co-investment opportunities in green hydrogen production projects in North America. Plug and Fortescue have started the initial diligence process for Fortescue to take up to a 40% equity stake in Plug’s Texas hydrogen plant (45 MTPD) and for Plug to take up to a 25% equity stake in Fortescue’s proposed Phoenix hydrogen plant.

The proposed 550 MW (megawatt) PEM (proton-exchange membrane) electrolyzer supply contract for Fortescue’s green hydrogen production Gibson Island Project in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, is subject to final negotiations and approvals and Fortescue’s final investment decision (FID) on that project. An FID is expected by the end of December 2023. Once operational, the plant is expected to produce approximately 385,000 [metric] tons of green ammonia a year from the green hydrogen produced onsite through the 550 MW hydrogen electrolysis facility.

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Carbon capture firm makes leadership appointments

British Columbia-based carbon capture firm Svante has appointed a chief revenue officer and hired a new chief commercial officer and general counsel.

Svante, a carbon capture & removal technology solutions provider based in British Columbia, Canada, announced today that Matthew Stevenson is transitioning from CFO to the new role of chief revenue officer (CRO), and Andrew McLeod has joined as chief commercial officer (CCO) and general counsel.

Bringing over 25 years’ experience as a corporate lawyer, Andrew will oversee Svante’s global corporate and legal affairs including commercial support, contract management, IP and risk management, corporate finance, M&A, and Governance & Board Affairs.

As CRO, Matt will be responsible for overseeing the partnerships, people, processes, and systems that represent Svante’s revenue generation “engine”. He will serve as the steward of Svante’s business model and customer value proposition. This includes driving initiatives to increase revenue and to identify and execute strategies that will generate sales—increasing installed client base sales and broadening Svante’s overall client base. Matt will lead efforts to establish new strategic partnerships and grow existing relationships as well as identify opportunities for expansion into promising new markets.

“As a growth-focused company, we want to ensure that all elements of our business are ready and able to support our rapid scaling, especially those that impact revenue generation and commercial partnerships,” said Claude Letourneau, Svante’s president & CEO. “I’m pleased to welcome Andrew to the team and announce the appointment of Matt to a broad mandate for leading the revenue side of the business. Matt will continue as acting Chief Financial Officer in the transition to the recruitment of a new CFO.”

“The time has come to be boldly implementing leading edge technology to transform the impact of climate change on our planet. I am honoured to be a part of the Svante carbon capture solution,” said McLeod. “When Claude invited me to join as CCO and General Counsel, I did not hesitate. Svante has a 15-year first-mover advantage and has built key strategic relationships across the CCUS value chain, positioning it as a leader in providing commercial solid sorbent carbon capture & removal solutions.”

“It has been exceptionally rewarding to partner with Claude and the amazing team we have here at Svante over the last several years to build this Company into a credible solution for hard to abate CO2 emissions,” said Mr. Stevenson. “With the capital secured for our go-to market strategy, I look forward to the new challenge of scaling revenue, leveraging partnerships, and providing our customers with unique opportunities to capture and remove CO2 via world-leading technology.”

The CRO will be responsible for all revenue-related functions including strategic accounts management, sales and marketing, channel to market partnerships with EPC’s and project developers, customer support services, technology licensing and project delivery, as well as Svante’s Digital Business strategy, which ensures that all these activities are executed via scalable platforms aligned with Industry 4.0 principles.

Since its founding in 2007, Svante has grown to employ over 200 professionals and has become a leader in developing solid adsorbent materials, including novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for its nanoengineered carbon capture filters. The company has attracted customers, investors, and partners from large organizations around the world and has been named in the prestigious Global Cleantech 100 report since 2019.

In December 2023, Svante raised US$318m in a series E round led by Chevron New Energies. With these funds, Svante is building its new world headquarters, The Centre of Excellence for Carbon Capture & Removal, which will house its R&D and filter manufacturing facilities. Letourneau says The Centre of Excellence will enable the company to launch a series of commercial-scale carbon capture projects around the world that will capture 100 million tonnes of CO2 annually before 2030.

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HTEC to receive B.C. funding for hydrogen trucking pilot

HTEC will buy, test and demonstrate hydrogen-powered trucks for fleet operators throughout B.C.

HTEC is set to receive $16.5m in funding from British Columbia for a pilot program that uses hydrogen to power commercial trucking.

Under the pilot, B.C.-based hydrogen-energy company HTEC will procure six different heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks and complete upgrades to a hydrogen-fuelling station in Tsawwassen and a maintenance facility in Abbotsford.

The B.C. Pilot Hydrogen Truck Project aims to start the use of hydrogen in the commercial transportation sector, according to a news release.

Colin Armstrong, president and CEO of HTEC, said: “Through the Province’s significant investment in zero-emission trucks in B.C., and the simultaneous development of robust infrastructure to enhance their operations, this pilot project symbolizes a remarkable leap toward a sustainable future. It marks the first-ever deployment of heavy-duty hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks for a diverse range of fleet operators in the province, a historic moment for the trucking industry. We applaud the provincial government for their vision and support, and we are delighted to be the wheels on the ground and driving force behind this groundbreaking project.”

HTEC designs, builds and operates hydrogen production facilities, infrastructure and supply.

HTEC will buy, test and demonstrate the hydrogen-powered trucks for fleet operators throughout B.C. The project also brings together Canada’s world-leading hydrogen and vehicle-technology companies. The Province’s funding for the pilot is being administered by the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund.

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Methanol-to-hydrogen firm planning capital raise

An early-stage provider of distributed methanol-to-hydrogen solutions is planning a capital raise as it scales up.

Kaizen Clean Energy, a Houston-based methanol-to-hydrogen fuel company, is planning to raise additional capital in support of upcoming projects.

The company, which uses methanol and water to produce hydrogen with modular units, recently completed a funding round led by Balcor Companies, in which Balcor took a minority interest in Kaizen.

Additional funding in the capital raise was provided by friends and family, Kaizen co-founder and chief commercial officer Eric Smith said in an interview.

But with its sights on larger project opportunities this year, the company is already targeting an additional capital raise to support continued growth, Smith said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise and potential advisors, but noted that the company’s CFO, Craig Klaasmeyer, is a former Credit Suisse banker.

Kaizen’s methanol model utilizes a generator license from Element 1 and adds in systems to produce power or hydrogen, targeting the diesel generator market, EV charging and microgrids as well as hydrogen fueling and industrial uses.

Compared to trucking in hydrogen, the model using methanol, an abundant chemical, cuts costs by around 50%, Smith said, noting that Kaizen’s containers are at cost parity with diesel.

In addition, the Kaizen container is cleaner than alternatives, producing no nitric or sulfur oxide, according to Smith. Its carbon intensity score is 45, compared to 90 for the California electric grid and 100 for diesel generators.

Smith also touts a streamlined permitting process for Kaizen’s containerized product. The company recently received a letter of exemption for the container from a California air district due to low or no emissions. The product similarly does not require a California state permit and similarly, when off grid, no city permits are required, he added.

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Midstream hydrogen firm to seek capital for projects within one year

The first slate of the company’s salt cavern hydrogen storage and pipeline projects will likely reach FID within six to 12 months, setting the stage for a series of project finance and tax equity transactions.

NeuVentus, the newly formed midstream infrastructure and hydrogen storage company backed by Lotus Infrastructure Partners, will likely seek project financing and tax equity for its first cache of projects in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Louisiana in six to 12 months, CEO Sam Porter said in an interview.

“It sure looks like 45V and 45Q, and basically everything the IRA just did, is like a brick on the accelerator,” Porter said, explaining that he expects additional federal clarifications for hydrogen to come this year. “We’re looking at FIDing a first batch of projects, which I think are really going to marry up some things that the project finance community loves.”

That includes salt cavern storage and pipelines with a novel ESG twist, Porter said. The company plans to own and operate its developments as a platform. If in time demand for projects becomes overwhelming, the equity holders could sell those projects.

NeuVentus recently launched with Lotus’ backing. The private equity firm’s position is that they are able and ready to fund all project- and platform-level equity, Porter said.

“There’s certainly project level finance requirements, debt, tax equity and sponsor equity,” Porter said. The company will first get its projects de-risked as much as possible.

Pickering Energy Partners was mandated for NeuVentus’ seed raise. Porter said there could be additional opportunities for financial advisors to participate in fundraising, though Lotus has significant in-house capabilities and relationships.

Vinson & Elkins served as the law firm advising Lotus Infrastructure, formerly Starwood Energy, on the launch of NeuVentus.

The company is also open to acquiring abandoned or underutilized infrastructure assets, convertible to hydrogen, Porter said. Assets that connect production and consumption that can be more resistant to embrittlement than newer midstream infrastructure and would be of interest.

Exiting assets in regions that are good for hydrogen production, namely those that are sunny and windy, and are relatively close to consumption, will get the closest look.

Oil & gas in the energy transition

Renewable-sourced hydrogen offers an opportunity for traditional oil and gas operators to continue their work in salt domes.

NeuVentus’ plan is to focus on storage first, and then have the pipeline emanate from that, Porter said. The founding team of the company has a lot of experience in oil & gas and structuring land deals (mineral rights and surface/storage rights) in the Gulf region, where salt caverns are abundant.

The company is also open to an anchor tenant that needs a pipeline segment between production and consumption. But from a developers’ perspective the most prudent play will be around storage sites located with multiple interconnection options, he said.

There are roughly 1,500 miles of pipeline and 9 to 10 million kilograms of daily hydrogen production and consumption in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf region, Porter said.

“I think we’re going to see a significant need for more midstream build-out,” he said. “The traditional fee-for-service model is going to be appealing to a lot of the new entrants.”

A molecule-agnostic approach

Hydrogen is “a Swiss army knife” of a feedstock for numerous use cases, Porter said. That all of those use cases will prevail is uncertain, but NeuVentus ultimately only needs one or two of them to grow.

“Additional hydrogen infrastructure is going to be required,” whether it’s for ammonia as fertilizer or methanol as fuel or something else, Porter said. “We don’t necessarily care: all of them are going to require clean hydrogen.”

Equity owners in NueVentus will be opportunistic when it comes to an eventual financial exit, Porter said.

“The beauty of this is that I can see a number of potential buyers,” he said.

An offtaker that wants to vertically integrate, like foreign consumers of hydrogen products, could want to acquire a midstream platform for purposes of national energy security. Industrial gas companies could want to acquire the infrastructure as well. Large energy transfer companies that move molecules are obvious acquirers as well, and finally the company could remain independent or list publicly under its own business plan.

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US hydrogen developer to raise $1bn in 2023

Avina Clean Hydrogen will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina Clean Hydrogen, a U.S.-based developer of hydrogen production plants, will seek to raise approximately $1bn, or possibly more, in 2023, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The company will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity, Shah said. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina is also in discussions with potential investment bankers, but has not hired anyone yet, Shah said.

“The capital needs for us are going to continue to grow,” Shah said. “We are certainly open to bringing on additional partners.”

Four development projects have offtake agreements in place, Shah said. The first operational plant will open in Southern California next year or early 2024, followed by Avina’s 700,000 mtpa green ammonia project in the Texas Gulf Coast. Additional projects are underway in the Midwest.

Three of those projects, each with offtakers in place, will reach FID in 2023 and need project debt, Shah said.

Avina is engaged with half-a-dozen potential customers and will seek to develop additional projects within that existing footprint.

Renewable energy procurement is also an important concern for Avina; the Texas project alone will require 900 MW of renewable energy to power, Shah said. The company is in offtake discussions with regional IPPs, mostly in solar and battery storage, but could use help with those agreements. Shah declined to name the firm’s legal advisor.

Avina was founded more than three years ago and is principally backed by Hydrogen Technology Ventures, a firm headed by Shah.

An equity raise was completed in early Q4, Shah said, declining to provide details. The company has a “large industrial firm” as a strategic investor that it hopes to announce soon. Looking forward, the company will look for a second strategic investor, as well as project finance.

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