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Johnson Matthey to build 5 GW China membrane facility

The new production facility will enable Johnson Matthey to supply existing Chinese and international customers with catalyst coated membranes for fuel cells and PEM electrolyzers.

Johnson Matthey (JM), a global leader in sustainable technologies, has signed an investment agreement with the Jiading District in Shanghai to help accelerate the hydrogen economy in China.

At a signing ceremony in Sonning, UK today, JM and the Shanghai Jiading District announced plans to build a new catalyst coated membrane (CCM) production facility, providing CCM production capability for multiple proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell applications and PEM electrolysers.

The facility which will have an initial capacity of up to 5 GW, will occupy 22,000m2 in the Jiading district of Shanghai, in a designated hydrogen industrial zone and is due to be operational in 2025. It will have potential to expand further in line with customer demand.

The investment, which is backed by customer demand, is part of JM’s £1.1 billion global stated capital expenditure for the three years to 2024/25 and will include government support and incentives.

Mark Su, president of Greater China at Johnson Matthey, said: “This is a landmark investment for our business as we build our footprint in the US, Europe and now China, cementing our presence in all three major hydrogen markets. We are excited to expand our businesses whilst creating and scaling the low carbon solutions that will help China achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.”

The new production facility will enable Johnson Matthey to supply existing Chinese and international customers with locally produced CCMs. In addition, there is a strong pipeline of further customer interest across both fuel cell and renewable (green) hydrogen technologies.

Gao Xiang, Mayor of Jiading District, said: “Jiading District is a famous international automobile city and one of the earliest areas in China to develop a hydrogen industry. With the help of companies like Johnson Matthey, we are able to actively build a hydrogen technologies innovation hub and a national fuel cell vehicle demonstration city. This investment agreement plays to both parties’ strengths and is a win-win cooperation.”

CCMs are key performance defining components in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV). China has said it aims to have 1 million hydrogen-powered vehicles on its road by 2030.

Johnson Matthey has a long heritage in China with six state-of-the art manufacturing facilities. JM is one of China’s leading auto catalyst producers and platinum group metals traders and refiners, and a leading player across syngas and hydrogen fuel cells. JM was the first commercial scale membrane electrode assembly (MEA) producer in China, producing the MEAs for hydrogen fuel cell shuttle buses showcased in the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022.

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Exclusive: Texas ammonia developer raising project capital

A developer of large-scale green ammonia projects is in the process of raising $2.5bn in equity and debt for a project in Texas, while also seeking a development partner for 1 GW of co-located renewable generation.

Avina Clean Hydrogen, the multi-faceted developer of green hydrogen and ammonia projects, is raising some $2.5bn in debt and equity for its green ammonia project in Nueces County, Texas, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The firm, which is based out of Short Hills, New Jersey, has hired an investment bank, Shah said, declining to name the advisor. The raise is targeting a variety of strategic and financial investors with a roughly 60/40 split between equity and debt for the 800,000 mtpy green ammonia facility outside of Corpus Christi, known as Nueces Green Ammonia.

Avina is advancing four more projects, in addition to Nueces Green Ammonia, which is slated for FID in 2Q24, Shah said.

California compressed green hydrogen project is approaching COD in the second half of this year; Avina Northern Illinois will reach FID this year; and additional projects in SAF and methanol are in the works.

The company is also in talks with renewables developers to supply 1 GW of renewable generation co-located with Nueces Green Ammonia.

“We are trying to bring a lot of these first-of-a-kind large scale projects to fruition,” Shah said. “There are more opportunities down the line for additional capital.”

Nueces Green Ammonia, a subsidiary of Avina, has applied for a water permit with the Water and Control District Three of Nueces County in Texas, a local official told ReSource.

The permit, for 4.5 million gallons per day of potable water and 1 million gallons per day of raw water, was recently filed with the office in Robstown, Texas, the official said. The company has also acquired land to the north of Robstown, Texas.

Corpus Christi city council members voted last week to approve a seawater desalination plant – producing 30 million gallons per day – that will be a critical source of water for the growing clean fuels industry in the region.

Avina, via Nueces Green Ammonia, filed for a separate permit to construct the facility with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

ReSource reported in April, 2023 that the company was auditioning advisors for a capital raise.

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Fast fission tech co. signs PPA LOI with Diamondback Energy

Oklo, a nuclear fuel recycling startup with backing from Sam Altman, has signed an LOI for a power purchase agreement with Diamondback Energy for a project in the Permian Basin.

Oklo Inc., a fast fission clean power technology and nuclear fuel recycling company backed by Sam Altman, has reached an agreement with Diamondback Energy Inc., the largest independent producer headquartered in the shale-oil region to collaborate on a long-term Power Purchase Agreement, according to a news release.

The LOI signed by Diamondback outlines its intent to enter into a 20-year PPA with Oklo. The proposed agreement focuses on engaging Oklo’s Aurora powerhouses to supply reliable and emission-free electricity to Diamondback’s operations in the Permian Basin.

According to the terms of the LOI, Oklo intends to license, build, and operate powerhouses capable of generating 50 MW of electric power to Diamondback E&P LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Diamondback near Midland, Texas.

The LOI outlines options to renew and extend the potential PPA for an additional 20-year term. Oklo’s powerhouse designs are intended to be able to operate for 40 years, and because of Oklo’s design-build-own-operate business model, potential customers like Diamondback are expected to be able to purchase power without complex ownership issues or other capital requirements.

“By developing and providing a low-cost, high-reliability, and emission-free energy source, Oklo is poised to help meet the growing energy requirements of operators like Diamondback,” added DeWitte. The collaboration between Oklo and Diamondback represents a significant step towards emissions reductions and supporting national energy security by providing reliable access to electricity to power domestic energy operations.

On July 11, 2023, Oklo and AltC Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: ALCC) announced that they have entered into a definitive business combination agreement that upon closing would result in the combined company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “OKLO.”

AltC is the SPAC of Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI.

The 2023 deal valued Oklo at $850m. It currently trades with a $660m equity market cap.

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Cemvita appoints CFO

Houston-based Cemvita has appointed Lisa Bromiley as its new CFO.

Cemvita, a carbon utilization company, has appointed Lisa Bromiley as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

In her new role, Bromiley will spearhead capital markets, strategic positioning, and financial management of the company, bringing with her over two decades of invaluable experience in energy and commodity-related finance.

Prior to joining Cemvita, Bromiley played pivotal roles as CFO and Public Company Director. Particularly, she played a key role in the development of Flotek Industries, Inc. Mrs. Bromiley also steered Northern Oil and Gas, Inc., achieving a market capitalization of $4bn.

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Exclusive: TransGas CEO talks mega ammonia project

The owners of a proposed colossal ammonia production facility in Appalachian coal country are in the beginning stages of seeking liquidity, EPC contracting, and advisory services for a project they say will ultimately be financed akin to an LNG export terminal.

It’s an appeal often made in modern US politics – doing right by those left behind.

Perhaps no place is more emblematic of that appeal than West Virginia, and perhaps no region in that state more so than the southern coal fields. It’s there a fossil developer is proposing the architecture of the ruling coal industry be used to build a $10bn decarbonized ammonia facility and is gathering the resources to do so.

“It’s world class, and it makes southern West Virginia, Mingo County, the catalyst for the 21st century’s energy revival,” said Adam Victor, the CEO of TransGas Development Systems, the developer of the project. “The people [here] are the heirs and descendants of the people that mined the coal that built the steel that built the Panama Canal.”

The Adams Fork Energy project in Mingo County, jointly developed by TransGas and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, is slated to reach commercial operations in 2027. Six identical 6,000 mtpd ammonia manufacturing plants are being planned on the site of a previously permitted (but not constructed) coal-to-gasoline facility.

ReSource exclusively reported this week that the state has issued a permit to construct the facility. TransGas owns 100% of the project now, though if the Tribe comes through with federal funding then it will become the majority owner.

TransGas itself could take on a liquidity partner to raise up to $20m in development capital for the project, Victor said. The company is not using a financial advisor now but will hire one in the future.

White & Case is TransGas’ legal advisor. The company is in discussions with Ansaldo Energia, of Italy, about construction.

“The project is not averse to talking to private equity or investment bankers, because nothing has been decided right now,” Victor said, noting that the company is just beginning talks with infra funds and is eager to do so. “The project will be looking for an EPC.”

The first of the six plants will cost about $2bn, but each one will get successively less expensive, Victor said. Total capex is about $10bn, though there is discussion of acquiring adjacent land to double the size of the project – or 12 plants in all producing 6,000 mtpd each.

TransGas has the support of West Virginia politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Jim Justice, Victor said. Financing the project will be a function of the offtake.

Electricity for data centers, or ammonia for export?

The company is conducting a market analysis to determine avenues for offtake, Victor said. They could do partial electricity generation onsite to power a data center, with the remainder of the hydrogen being used to make ammonia for shipment overseas.

Depending on the needs of offtakers, the facility could also do one or the other entirely, he said.

The project, if configured at current size, could support about 6,000 MW of non-interruptible power generation, 2,000 MW of that for cooling.

“This could basically become a 6,000 MW campus to become the center of data centers in the United States,” Victor said, noting that the region is much less prone to natural disasters than some others and is high enough in elevation to escape any flooding. “I think we could rival Loudoun County [Virginia] as where data centers should be located.”

Adams Fork sits on the largest mine pool reservoir in the eastern US, Victor noted. Data centers need constant cooling, particularly new chip technology that requires liquid cooling.

TransGas will know in a matter of weeks if it’s going to go the electrical route, Victor said. There are only five companies in the world with data centers large enough to efficiently offtake from it: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Meta and Apple.

If not, the facility will continue down the path of selling the decarbonized ammonia, likely to an oil company or international ammonia buyer like JERA in Japan.

Partnering with a tech company will make it easier to finance the project because of high credit ratings, Victor said. International pressure on oil companies could affect those credit ratings.

“We think the investor world could be split,” he said, noting tech and fuels investors could both be interested in the project. “You’re doubling the universe of investors and offtakers.”

He added: “Once we have the offtake, we think we could have a groundbreaking this year.”

Two ways of shipping

For ammonia production the facility could use the same shipping channels the coal industry uses – either to the Big Sandy River to be sent by barge on the Ohio to New Orleans, or rail to ports in Baltimore; Norfolk, Virginia; and Savanna, Georgia.

By rail, two 40-car trains per day would take ammonia to port. Norfolk Southern and CSX both operate in the region.

Another option is to have a fleet of 50 EV or hydrogen-powered trucks to transport ammonia to the Big Sandy where electric-powered barges can take it to the Gulf, Victor said. That latter option could mean a lower CI score because it will eliminate rail’s diesel power.

Mercedes-Benz and Volvo both make the kind of trucks used for this work in Europe and Asia, he said. Coal mines in the region use diesel trucks in fleets as numerous as 500, and the original TransGas coal plant was permitted for 250 trucks per day.

“This is something that our offtake partner is going to determine,” he said. Japan would likely want the ammonia in the Gulf of Mexico, whereas European shipping companies would want it on an Atlantic port.

The LNG financial model

The offtakers themselves could fund the facility, Victor said.

“The financial model for this is the financial model for funding LNG terminals,” he said. “The same teams that put those large facilities together, financial teams, would be the same teams that we’re talking to now.”

The offtakers may also dictate who they want to be the financial advisor, he said.

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Low-carbon crude refinery developer lining up project cap stack

The developer of a low-carbon crude refinery is in talks with banks and strategics to line up project financing for a $5.5bn project in Oklahoma.

Texas-based Southern Rock Energy Partners is holding discussions with banks and potential strategic investors with the aim of shaping a $5.5bn capital stack to build a low-carbon crude refinery in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project, a first-of-its-kind 250,000 barrel-per-day crude refinery, would make it the first crude facility of that size built in the United States in several decades.

The company is evaluating a project finance route with a debt and equity structure for the project, and has held talks with several major investment banks as well as “industry-leading” strategics in midstream, industrial gas, and electricity generation, Southern Rock Managing Partner Steven Ward said in an interview.

In support of the refinery, the city of Cushing and the Cushing Economic Development Foundation approved $75m in tax-exempt private activity bonds, Ward noted. He added that the company could also tap industrial revenue bonds as well as PACE equity financing.

Seed capital for project development has so far come from strategic partners, some of which are operational partners, Ward said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise, noting that engagement letters have yet to be signed.

Engineering firm KBR is conducting a feasibility study for the Cushing project, and the company is moving through land acquisition, air permit preparation, and EPC selection, Ward said.

While most crude refineries consume natural gas, off-gasses, and ambient air, Southern Rock’s proposed refinery would use oxygen along with blue hydrogen produced from the refining off-gasses and green hydrogen from electrolysis. The process would eliminate 95% of greenhouse gas emissions at the proposed refinery.

“Our furnaces and our process heating units are fed 100% hydrogen and oxygen,” Ward said, noting that this type of system does not currently exist in the market. The company is expanding on technology it licenses from Great Southern Flameless, he said.

The size of the refinery would make it the largest to be built in the US since Marathon Petroleum built a 200,000 barrels-per-day facility in 1976.

Certain other low-carbon crude projects have been in the market for several years. Meridian Energy has been seeking to build cleaner crude refineries in North Dakota. Raven Petroleum ran up against environmental concerns while seeking to build a clean refinery in Texas. And MMEX is aiming to build an “ultra clean” crude refinery in West Texas.

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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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