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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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Aemetis raising private construction financing for biogas

The California biogas project developer is also raising project financing for its Riverbank SAF facility.

Aemetis, the California RNG and biogas project developer, expects to have an additional $85m for dairy biodigester development this year, CEO Eric McAfee said on an earnings call.

Aemetis recently closed $50m in USDA guaranteed 20-year loans to build dairy-to-biogas digesters and to convert construction loans to term loans for those that are finished construction. The company has nine operating biodigesters.

“We plan to accelerate the rate of biodigester development in 2024 as we expect to close [$60m] of new private financing to accelerate project construction,” he said. An additional $25m is expected to come from a pending USDA guaranteed loan.

Aemetis got revenue from the sale of LCFS credits for the first time in 1Q24, McAfee said. Also, RNG-generated revenue through the sale of 45V production tax credits should start in January 2025.

Project financing for the company’s Carbon Zero 1 biofeuls plant in Riverbank, California is underway, McAfee said.

“We’re receiving a high level of interest from financial and strategic investors,” he said, noting the projects’ advanced permitting make it one of the few financeable projects in the US.

ReSource previously reported that Aemetis was seeking to raise roughly $500m for Riverbank.

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European Union gives 213m to Faurecia for clean mobility

Faurecia will develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form.

Faurecia, a subsidiary of the French FORVIA Group, will receive EUR 213m from to develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form, according to a news release.

The money is dedicated to Faurecia’s Historhy Next project. Faurecia’s plant in Allenjoie will produce over 100.000 tanks per year, start of production will be in 2024.

In addition, fuel cell supplier Symbio, a joint venture between Faurecia and Michelin, is also among the 10 projects supported by the French government in IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest), which has dedicated EUR 2.1bn to support the hydrogen industry in France.

A large-scale transformation project, Hymotive will accelerate the mass production of its latest-generation fuel cell systems in Saint-Fons.

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Electric Hydrogen to build electrolyzer gigafactory in Massachusetts

The VC-backed company plans to build a 1.2 GW factory, where it will produce its “world’s most powerful” 100 MW electrolyzer offering.

Electric Hydrogen Co., a manufacturer of advanced, industrial-scale hydrogen electrolyzer technology, announced the location of its first factory in Devens, Massachusetts.

The company has leased a newly constructed 187,000 ft2 facility and is now hiring production team members. The Devens factory will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 1.2 GW with production of EH2’s 100 MW green hydrogen electrolyzers commencing in Q1 2024.

“Our company has a single purpose: to make molecules to decarbonize our world,” stated David Eaglesham, EH2’s CTO and co-founder. “Industrial sectors such as fertilizer and steel need new ways to reliably replace fossil resources at costs that work. The machines we will produce at our new factory in Devens will have a transformational impact by enabling ultra-low-cost green hydrogen at an industrial scale.”

Green hydrogen, made by breaking the chemical bonds of water using renewable electricity, is a growth industry that can make an immediate impact on the global climate crisis. Electric Hydrogen expects its technology to establish the standard for industry-wide cost reduction to make green hydrogen cheaper than fossil alternatives.

“There are a lot of factory announcements in our industry, but not a lot of real capacity being built,” said Raffi Garabedian, EH2’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder. “We have a backlog of customer orders to fulfill and are moving quickly to build and ship the world’s most powerful electrolyzers.”

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DG Fuels charting path to be SAF powerhouse

The company has retained advisors and is mapping out a plan to build as many as 50 production facilities in North America for a “gigantic” sustainable aviation fuel market.

DG Fuels is charting a plan to build a proprietary network of 30 to 50 sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production facilities in North America, CEO Michael Darcy said in an interview.

The Washington, D.C.-based company will pursue a combination of debt and equity on a case-by-case basis to fund the projects, Darcy explained, with financings underway now for the firm’s initial project in Louisiana and a second facility in Maine. The Louisiana facility recently inked a USD 4bn offtake agreement with an undisclosed investment grade industrial buyer.

The company is working with Guggenheim and Stephens as financial advisors, Darcy said. About 60 people hold equity in the company; Darcy and the founding team hold a majority stake.

In the coming months DG Fuels will likely make announcements about more SAF plants in the US and British Columbia, Darcy said. Site negotiations are underway and each project is its own subsidiary of the parent company.

“There’s clearly a good return of what we refer to as the ‘project level,’ and then we have the parent company,” Darcy said. “We have strategic investment at the parent and now we’re looking at strategic investment at the project level.”

Huge demand, low supply

DG Fuels produces SAF from cellulosic biomass feedstock, a technology that does not need sequestration of CO2 because natural gas is not used.

“We like to say it’s the corn cob, not the corn,” Darcy said. The company can also use timber waste, waxes, and renewable power as an important source of energy.

The company gets about 4.5 barrels of SAF for every ton of biomass feedstock, which is roughly three to four times the industry average, Darcy said.

“Practical scale” for a facility is 12,000 to 15,000 barrels a day, Darcy said. That’s big enough to be commercialized without stressing the electrical grid with power demand.

Despite the company’s advantages, there is “plenty of room” for other producers to come into the SAF space, Darcy said.

“Right now, the market for SAF is gigantic and the supply is minimal,” Darcy said. “Companies like us are able to pick and choose high-quality offtakers.”

DG Fuels includes Delta Airlines, Air France and General Electric as committed offtakers.

Multi-tasking

DG Fuels is “always engaged in some level of capital raise for construction of facilities and detailed engineering,” Darcy said. “There’s always more engineering to be done.”

Some of the financing has already been completed, but Darcy declined to go into additional detail. After Louisiana, the company will quickly follow up with Maine.

HydrogenPro AS recently announced that it would join Black & Veatch and Energy Vault in financing the remaining capital requirements of DG Fuels’ project in Louisiana, which is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

Most of the engineering work in Louisiana is transferable to the company’s project in Maine. Darcy likened the facilities’ build-out to a class of ships: once the first is completed, the second and third can be built almost concurrently.

“There will be a point where we won’t be building one at a time,” Darcy said.

The opportunity for funders to participate is broad in the SAF space, Darcy said. There is a crossover of good economics and ESG, so strategics, industrials, private equity and other pure financial players can all be involved.

The broad base of capital eager to participate in companies that are innovative — but not too innovative as to scare investors — is indicative of the industry’s ability to secure offtakers and feedstock.

Storing power

It’s one thing to acknowledge the need for reduction of carbon, but hard work is required ahead, Darcy said.

“The low-hanging fruit has been done,” he said of the renewables industry. “Now it’s not really about the power, it’s about the storage of power.”

DG Fuels is an offtaker of non-peak renewable power to displace fossil fuel energy. But baseload renewable power is becoming available almost anywhere.

The Maine project will use stranded hydroelectric power, Louisiana will use solar, and projects in the Midwest will use wind, Darcy said. Additionally, geothermal power is “starting to become a very real opportunity,” he added.

Deploying broadly with renewable power gets past the issues of variability of renewable power at a reasonable cost, he said.

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Arizona RNG firm seeking equity capital

A renewable natural gas developer with sites proposed in southern California and Arizona is seeking additional equity investors.

True North Renewable Energy Company, a Phoenix-based waste-to-energy developer, is undergoing a Series B equity raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Whitehall & Company is advising, the sources said.

True North develops, builds, and operates organics-to-energy facilities, including large, regional, high solids anaerobic digestion infrastructure, according to its website.

The firm is primarily active in southern California and Arizona. Sites have been announced in Imperial County, Kern County and Mojave (all in California) as well as Yuma County, Arizona. Collectively, these could produce up to 3m mmbtu per annum, using up to 700,000 tons of organic compost from regional farms.

The company is a holding of True North Venture Partners, of Phoenix and Chicago.

TNRE and Whitehall did not respond to requests for comment.

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