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JERA commences ammonia co-firing tests

JERA and IHI will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025.

JERA Co. and IHI Corporation today began a demonstration of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution at a commercial coal-fired thermal power plant.

The testing will be carried out at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station in Hekinan City through June 2024.

Since October 2022, JERA and IHI have been moving forward in constructing the burners, tank, vaporizer, piping, and other facilities necessary for demonstration testing fuel ammonia substitution at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station.

IHI has developed a test burner based on the results of small-volume testing of fuel ammonia at the power station’s Unit 5, and JERA has prepared safety measures and an operational framework for the use of fuel ammonia at the power station.

With such preparations in place, the demonstration testing of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution began today at the power station’s Unit 4. The demonstration testing will look at characteristics of the plant overall, investigating nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and confirming factors such as operability and the impact on boilers and ancillary equipment.

JERA and IHI, by addressing issues raised through the demonstration testing, will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025, according to a news release.

Based on the current demonstration testing, JERA will begin commercial operation of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution (20% of heating value) at Unit 4 of JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station. By establishing the technology for ammonia substitution, JERA will offer a clean energy supply platform that combines renewable energy with low-carbon thermal power, contributing to the healthy growth and development of Asia and the world.

In addition to steadily carrying out the current demonstration testing, IHI will apply the knowledges gained through the Project to establish technology for high-ratio combustion of 50% ammonia or more at thermal power plants and to develop burners for 100% ammonia combustion, deploying the results of the demonstration testing to other thermal power plants in Japan and overseas will contribute to global decarbonization through fuel ammonia.

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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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Gulf Coast Sequestration appoints CEO

GCS is building a world-scale carbon sequestration hub on the Gulf Coast.

Gulf Coast Sequestration has named Dave Cook as CEO.

Prior to joining GCS, Cook was a director of Vaalco Energy, following its merger with TransGlobe Energy Corporation of which he was Chair from 2019 to 2022. Previously, he served as CEO of Noreco in London and INEOS DENOS in Copenhagen. Earlier in his career, he spent more than 20 years with BP in various international assignments.

GCS is building a world-scale carbon sequestration hub on the Gulf Coast.

W. Gray Stream, founder of GCS, will assume the role of Executive Chairman. Completing the leadership team, Benjamin Heard will serve as Chief Strategy Officer, while Scott Stepp is Chief Financial Officer.

“With two Class VI permit applications with the Environmental Protection Agency, GCS is at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to develop and implement carbon capture and sequestration. Under Dave’s leadership, I’m confident we are well positioned to continue our significant progress toward building a carbon sequestration hub on the Gulf Coast,” Stream said.

The addition of Cook follow the recent hire of former Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) regulator Kaycee Garrett as Head of Permitting. Garrett worked in the Underground Injection Control section of the LDNR Office of Conservation for ten years, followed by five years of consulting experience to advance injection well permit applications for operators across the Gulf Coast.

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E.P.A. makes selections for $20bn greenhouse gas reduction fund

The EPA announced its selections for $20bn in grant awards under two competitions within the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, established by the Inflation Reduction Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced its selections for $20bn in grant awards under two competitions within the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), which was created under the Inflation Reduction Act as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, according to a news release.

The three selections under the $14bn National Clean Investment Fund and five selections under the $6bn Clean Communities Investment Accelerator will create a national clean financing network for clean energy and climate solutions across sectors, ensuring communities have access to the capital they need to participate in and benefit from a cleaner, more sustainable economy.

By financing tens of thousands of projects, this national clean financing network will mobilize private capital to reduce climate and air pollution while also reducing energy costs, improving public health, and creating good-paying clean energy jobs in communities across the country, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF) Selectees

Under the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund, the three selected applicants will establish national clean financing institutions that deliver accessible, affordable financing for clean technology projects nationwide, partnering with private-sector investors, developers, community organizations, and others to deploy projects, mobilize private capital at scale, and enable millions of Americans to benefit from the program through energy bill savings, cleaner air, job creation, and more. Additional details on each of the three selected applicants, including the narrative proposals that were submitted to EPA as part of the application process, can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund NCIF website.

All three selected applicants surpassed the program requirement of dedicating a minimum of 40% of capital to low-income and disadvantaged communities. The three selected applicants are:

  • Climate United Fund ($6.97 billion award), a nonprofit formed by Calvert Impact to partner with two U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Self-Help Ventures Fund and Community Preservation Corporation. Together, these three nonprofit financial institutions bring a decades-long track record of successfully raising and deploying $30 billion in capital with a focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities. Climate United Fund’s program will focus on investing in harder-to-reach market segments like consumers, small businesses, small farms, community facilities, and schools—with at least 60% of its investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities, 20% in rural communities, and 10% in Tribal communities.
  • Coalition for Green Capital ($5 billion award), a nonprofit with almost 15 years of experience helping establish and work with dozens of state, local, and nonprofit green banks that have already catalyzed $20 billion into qualified projects—and that have a pipeline of $30 billion of demand for green bank capital that could be coupled with more than twice that in private investment. The Coalition for Green Capital’s program will have particular emphasis on public-private investing and will leverage the existing and growing national network of green banks as a key distribution channel for investment—with at least 50% of investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
  • Power Forward Communities ($2 billion award), a nonprofit coalition formed by five of the country’s most trusted housing, climate, and community investment groups that is dedicated to decarbonizing and transforming American housing to save homeowners and renters money, reinvest in communities, and tackle the climate crisis. The coalition members—Enterprise Community Partners, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Rewiring America, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way—will draw on their decades of experience, which includes deploying over $100 billion in community-based initiatives and investments, to build and lead a national financing program providing customized and affordable solutions for single-family and multi-family housing owners and developers—with at least 75% of investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) Selectees

Under the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, the five selected applicants will establish hubs that provide funding and technical assistance to community lenders working in low-income and disadvantaged communities, providing an immediate pathway to deploy projects in those communities while also building capacity of hundreds of community lenders to finance projects for years. Each of the selectees will provide capitalization funding (typically up to $10 million per community lender), technical assistance subawards (typically up to $1 million per community lender), and technical assistance services so that community lenders can provide financial assistance to deploy distributed energy, net-zero buildings, and zero-emissions transportation projects where they are needed most. 100% of capital under the CCIA is dedicated to low-income and disadvantaged communities. Additional details on each of the five selected applicants, including the narrative proposals that were submitted to EPA as part of the application process, can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund CCIA website.

The five selected applicants are:

  • Opportunity Finance Network ($2.29 billion award), a ~40-year-old nonprofit CDFI Intermediary that provides capital and capacity building for a national network of 400+ community lenders—predominantly U.S. Treasury-certified CDFI Loan Funds—which collectively hold $42 billion in assets and serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.
  • Inclusiv ($1.87 billion award), a ~50-year-old nonprofit CDFI Intermediary that provides capital and capacity building for a national network of 900+ mission-driven, regulated credit unions—which include CDFIs and financial cooperativas in Puerto Rico—that collectively manage $330 billion in assets and serve 23 million individuals across the country.
  • Justice Climate Fund ($940 million award), a purpose-built nonprofit supported by an existing ecosystem of coalition members, a national network of more than 1,200 community lenders, and ImpactAssets—an experienced nonprofit with $3 billion under management—to provide responsible, clean energy-focused capital and capacity building to community lenders across the country.
  • Appalachian Community Capital ($500 million award), a nonprofit CDFI with a decade of experience working with community lenders in Appalachian communities, which is launching the Green Bank for Rural America to deliver clean capital and capacity building assistance to hundreds of community lenders working in coal, energy, underserved rural, and Tribal communities across the United States.
  • Native CDFI Network ($400 million award), a nonprofit that serves as national voice and advocate for the 60+ U.S. Treasury-certified Native CDFIs, which have a presence in 27 states across rural reservation communities as well as urban communities and have a mission to address capital access challenges in Native communities.
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California Resources pursuing pipeline of blue molecule projects

Through a subsidiary called Carbon TerraVault, the upstream oil and gas producer will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals.

Through its subsidiary Carbon TerraVault, California Resources Corporation will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals, Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Gould said in an interview.

Carbon TerraVault is differentiated by its nature as a CCS-as-a-service company, Gould said, as most CCS projects are owned by emitters themselves.

“We are bringing to market a solution to decarbonize other parts of the California economy,” Gould said, noting that hydrogen producers, power plants and steel and cement makers are among potential clients. “We are out across the state, working with emitters.”

Carbon TerraVault is self-mandated to return one billion tons of carbon back into the ground, first as a gas and then pressurized into liquid. Revenue comes from the federal 45Q incentive and the California LCFS and related tradeable market.

The company has a JV with Brookfield Renewable for the first 200 million tons. That JV recently formed a separate JV with Lone Cypress Energy Services for a planned blue hydrogen plant at the Elk Hills Field in Kern County.

Carbon TerraVault will provide permanent sequestration for 100,000 MTPA at the facility, and will receive an injection fee on a per ton basis, according to a December 7 presentation.

In hiring Carbon TerraVault to provide CCS as a service, LoneCypress also invited the company to invest in the production, Gould said. The JV has the right to participate in the blue hydrogen facility up to and including a majority equity stake, the presentation shows.

“You should expect to see over time as we do more and more of these that we’re going to have multiple models,” Gould said of these partnerships and financial structures. A typical model may emerge as the industry matures.

The company could repeat that effort for “many more” blue hydrogen projects in the state, Gould said. “Green [hydrogen] is a longer-term proposition that is going to be based on renewable buildout,” he said. “Blue is kind of here now.”

Target market

Carbon TerraVault estimates that California’s total CCS market opportunity is between 150 MMTPA – 210 MMTPA, and is in discussions for 8 MMTPA of CCS, of which 1 MMTPA is in advanced discussions, the presentation shows.

Through California Resources’ Elk Hills land position of 47,000 acres and CO2 sequestration reservoirs, the company could attract additional greenfield infrastructure projects like the Lone Cypress Hydrogen Project and create a Net Zero Industrial Park, according to the presentation.

In that vein, Gould noted the huge need for decarbonized ammonia in California’s central valley agriculture, which today is imported from abroad.

“There is a need for clean hydrogen in California and it is best if it is created in California,” Gould said.

The JV with Brookfield funds Carbon TerraVault’s storage needs, Gould said. Investments in the production processes, such as the deal with Lone Cypress, will likely require additional capital.

Project level financing is a “default assumption,” Gould said, though that’s not set in stone. The company is working with a financial advisor but Gould declined to name the firm.

The scale of California’s hydrogen ambitions is far beyond what any one company can do, Gould said.

“If you’re an advisor that is working with a developer likeLone Cypress that is considering locating in California, then I would say give us a ring,” Gould said. “We’re the ones who are going to be able to do the sequestration there.”

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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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Exclusive: American Clean Power to advocate for ‘grandfathering’ in 45V rules

The clean energy trade group plans to continue promoting the concept of “grandfathering” for early-mover green hydrogen projects in response to IRS guidance for 45V rules, according to industry sources familiar with the plans.

Clean energy industry trade group American Clean Power (ACP) plans to continue championing the concept of “grandfathering” in the green hydrogen sector, arguing that it is critical for the economic viability of early green hydrogen projects under the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean hydrogen tax credits, according to sources familiar with the group’s plans.

Grandfathering would allow these projects to adhere to less stringent annual time-matching requirements before transitioning to an hourly regime.

ACP, through its previously released Green Hydrogen Framework, has proposed to grandfather in the early-mover projects under annual time-matching as long as they start construction before January 1, 2029. That’s in contrast to guidance for the 45V clean hydrogen tax credit that would require renewable energy generation associated with green hydrogen projects to be matched hourly beginning in 2028.

The trade group, which consists of 800 clean energy companies, previously argued against too-soon hourly matching in a November white paper. Representatives of ACP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In response to the IRS guidance, ACP is seeking to underscore that, without grandfathering, early projects will have to be designed from the start to meet hourly matching requirements, significantly increasing costs and negating the benefits of annual time matching, sources said.

The notice of public rulemaking on 45V was issued on December 26, and is open for public comment for 60 days. The tax credit rules, which would require strict adherence to the so-called three pillars approach for incrementality, temporal matching, and deliverability, are viewed by some in the industry as overly burdensome.

ACP’s position is that the project finance market can handle some changes midstream in long-term agreements, but not fundamental shifts like transitioning from annual to hourly time matching. 

This switch could lead to a dramatic decrease in green hydrogen production and a concurrent exponential increase in production costs. Investors, anticipating these risks, might finance green hydrogen production agreements as if they were under an hourly regime from the beginning, thereby eliminating the initial benefits of annual time matching, according to the sources familiar.

A Wood Mackenzie study estimates that hourly time matching requirements could result in a price increase of 68% in Texas and 175% in Arizona, for example.

ACP, according to sources, stresses that the absence of grandfathering would create an economic cliff for agreements straddling both accounting systems. This would add to project costs, potentially discourage customer interest in green hydrogen, and hinder the industry’s maturation, the sources explained. In contrast, grandfathering first-mover projects under an annual time matching regime would ensure competitive production costs, driving demand for green hydrogen, the trade group believes.

Moreover, sources explained that ACP’s position is that the transition from annual to hourly matching without grandfathering would likely necessitate assuming hourly matching from the onset in power purchase agreements, leading to higher hydrogen costs from the start. This could delay green hydrogen industry development and give an advantage to blue hydrogen with early adopters, potentially excluding green hydrogen from the market.

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