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Louisiana could have Class IV carbon injection primacy later this year

A U.S. Congressman said this week that Louisiana will likely have permitting authority later this year over wells designed to capture and store carbon.

Louisiana is set to receive permitting authority over wells designed to capture and store carbon by the end of the year, U.S. Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana said this week, according to a Reuters report.

“We’re probably looking at final approval sometime in December or January,” Graves said at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, according to the report. “If you look at the at the capacity of the state of Louisiana, they have substantially more expertise and capacity than the EPA does at this point.”

The state has been seeking control over Class VI wells from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), having filed its application in May, 2021.

North Dakota and Wyoming are the only two states with primacy for Class VI wells.

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Baker Botts adds energy finance partner

Baker Botts has added Washington, DC-based partner Matthew Gurch, who joins from Stoel Rives.

Baker Botts L.L.P. has added Matthew Gurch to the Energy, Projects & Transactions Section of the Global Projects Department as a partner in the Washington, D.C. office.

Gurch’s practice focuses on advising sponsors and private lenders and multilateral development banks in domestic and international energy and infrastructure project development and financings. His broad-based experience includes tax equity structuring and back leverage debt financings for renewable and energy transition assets, and the development and financing of nuclear and other thermal power generation and oil and gas projects.

“Matt is a highly experienced project development and finance attorney and another key strategic lateral partner hire for the firm,” said Danny David, Managing Partner of Baker Botts. “His experience advising clients with respect to complex domestic and international energy and infrastructure projects will be a great complement to our outstanding offerings in those areas. We are excited to welcome him to the firm.”

He joins the firm from Stoel Rives, where he was a partner in the Corporate practice group and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Industry Groups.

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Cummins buys remaining 19% of Hydrogenics Corp.

Cummins is now the sole owner of the Ontario-based fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies company.

Cummins Inc. has bought out Air Liquide’s 19% interest in Hydrogenics Corporation, according to a news release.

Cummins acquired the Ontario-based Hydrogenics in 2019, adding key fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies to its portfolio. That acquisition was completed for $15 per share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $290m.

“The buyout reinforces [Cummins’] commitment to these technologies and the increasing importance they will play in creating value for all stakeholders and decarbonizing our world,” the release states. “This move enables continued investment and growth in hydrogen technologies to meet rapidly growing demand.”

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Bloom Energy anticipates increase in waste-to-energy contracting

New developers are emerging in the waste-to-energy space, including many in agriculture and wastewater treatment that are looking for greater energy security.

Bloom Energy, the San Jose-based manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cells, anticipates a policy-driven increase in contracts from waste-to-energy developers this year and next year.

CEO KR Sridhar said during the company’s 3Q earnings call that between 200 MW and 300 MW of potential new waste-to-energy sales had come into the company’s pipeline, driven in part by passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

While he declined to state a number, Sridhar said the company expects some of those to begin contracts this year and next.

New developers are emerging in the waste-to-energy space, he noted, including many in agriculture and wastewater treatment that are looking for greater energy security.

Bloom recorded record third quarter revenue of $292.3 million in 2022, an increase of 41.1% compared to $207.2 in the third quarter of 2021.

During the call Shridhar highlighted the company’s relationship with Taylor Farms and the effort to install a microgrid capable of taking one of their California food processing facilities completely off the traditional energy grid.

Additionally, the company is working with Westinghouse Electric Company to pursue clean hydrogen production in the commercial nuclear power market. Shridhar declined to give specifics but said the companies are actively pursuing several opportunities.

Bloom will double production capacity, with a focus on its Fremont facility, year-over year by the end of 4Q and plans to again double capacity next year, CFO Greg Cameron said on the call. Investment in the Fremont facility through 2023 will be about USD 200m and the company could consider new manufacturing facilities after that.

Bloom Energy also recently inaugurated a high volume commercial electrolyzer line at the company’s plant in Newark, Delaware.

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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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Exclusive: National RNG developer in equity sale process

A large US developer and operator of renewable natural gas projects has tapped an advisor and is in the early stages of a sale process.

DTE Vantage, a developer of renewable energy projects with a national footprint in the US, is in the first round of a process to sell its RNG business, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Lazard is running the process, the sources said. First round bids were recently received.

The company’s RNG portfolio includes 13 projects, four of which are landfill-to-gas while the remainder are on dairy farms, with more under construction, according to company materials. One of the largest RNG producers in the Midwest, the company also has projects in North Carolina, California, New York, and Wisconsin.

Of note, the Riverview Energy landfill gas asset in Riverview, Michigan produces 8.6 mmcfd of pipeline natural gas and includes 6.6 MW of solar. Pinnacle Gas in Moraine, Ohio, produces 4.5 mmcfd, while Seabreeze Energy in Angleton, Texas produces 5.8 mmcfd.

DTE Vantage is a non-utility subsidiary of DTE Energy. Founded in the 1990s, it has about 600 employees and operates 64 projects in 16 US states, with one asset in Canada. The company serves industrial, agricultural, and institutional clients across three core groups: Renewable Energy, Custom Energy Solutions, and Emerging Ventures.

DTE declined to comment. Lazard did not respond to a request for comment.

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Exclusive: Advanced Ionics raising $12.5m, seeking pilot project partners

Advanced Ionics, an electrolyzer developer based in the Midwest, is approaching a close on the second tranche of its Series A and is seeking sponsors for pilot projects in Texas and elsewhere.

The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

Advanced Ionics, the Milwaukee-based electrolyzer developer, is about six weeks out from closing a second tranche of its Series A and is seeking new partnerships for pilot projects in the US, Chief Commercial Officer Ignacio Bincaz told ReSource.

Bincaz, based in Houston, is working to close the second $12.5m tranche, which is roughly the same size as the first tranche. The company has technical teams in Wisconsin but could build out those as well as commercial capabilities in Houston.
The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

“We just put together our first stack, Generation One, which are 100 square centimeters,” Bincaz said. Generation Two stacks will come later this year, but to get to Generation Three — commercial size, producing between 7 and 16 tons per day — the company will have to conduct a Series B about one year from now.

“For that, we need to hit certain benchmarks on durability of a stack,” he said. “The money will go toward scaling up and getting the data expected by investors to get us to Series B.”

Aside from equity provisions, Advanced Ionics is looking for sponsors for pilots and related studies, Bincaz said. “There’s different ways that we’re looking for collaboration.”

Between 2027 and 2028 the company expects to have commercial-size Generation Three stacks in the market.

Pilot projects

Advanced Ionics has two pilot projects in development with Repsol Foundation and Arpa-E (US Department of Energy), respectively.

The Repsol project is a Generation One development producing 1 kilogram per day, Bincaz said. The government project will be the first Generation Two project.

Another pilot is in development with a large energy company that Bincaz declined to name. The company is also exploring pilot projects with bp, which is an investor in the company.

After four or so pilot projects of ascending scale, the company will look to do its first industrial-scale project using real process heat or steam, integrated into a hydrogen-use process like ammonia manufacturing or chemical refining.

“We’re talking to companies in Asia, companies in Europe, companies in the US,” he said, specifically naming Japan and Singapore. “I’m in early conversations.”

Advanced Ionics’ first tranche Series A was led by bp ventures, with participation from Clean Energy Ventures, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and GVP Climate.

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