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LSB Industries hires new VP of Manufacturing

The Oklahoma City-based ammonia producer fills the key role following a retirement.

Oklahoma City-based ammonia producer LSB Industries has hired Scott Bemis to Executive Vice President of Manufacturing following the retirement of John Burns, according to a news release.

Bemis joins LSB from Albemarle Energy Storage where he has served as the Kemerton Site Director since 2023 and as the Richburg MegaFlex Site Director from 2022 to 2023. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston – Clear Lake, with a concentration in Management Information System (MIS) and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arizona.

Burns will remain with LSB during the transition.

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Carbon removal firm spins out of UCLA contracted with Boeing

Equatic has a pre-purchase agreement with Boeing for its carbon-negative hydrogen and currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Carbon removal company Equatic recently spun out from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management to deploy the first technology combining CO2 removal and carbon-negative hydrogen generation, according to a news release.

Alongside the launch, Equatic is announcing that it has entered into a pre-purchase option agreement with Boeing, a leading global aerospace company. Under the agreement, Equatic will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and will deliver 2,100 metric tons of carbon-negative hydrogen to Boeing.

“The oceans are the world’s largest reservoir of carbon dioxide. One quarter of the world’s daily CO2 emissions are drawn down into the ocean,” the release states. “Equatic’s technology accelerates and amplifies this natural cycle to remove and durably store CO2. The entire removal and sequestration process happens within the boundaries of an industrial carbon removal plant, enabling Equatic to precisely measure CO2.”

Equatic currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. One hundred percent of the CO2 removed from these pilots has been pre-sold, including via pre-purchase agreements with global payment solution provider, Stripe.

Equatic expects to reach 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons of carbon removal for less than $100 per metric ton by 2028.

“Furthermore, Equatic will become a dominant producer of carbon-negative hydrogen — hydrogen created from processes that reduce atmospheric CO2,” the release states. “The hydrogen will be sold as a clean energy source to decarbonize industrial processes, produce electricity for the transportation sector, create Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and fuels for trucking, and power the Equatic technology itself.”

Equatic emerges from UCLA with over $30m in initial funding including grants and equity investments from organizations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, YouWeb Incubator, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, PUB: Singapore’s National Water Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

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NOVA Infra and Nopetro Energy form new RNG and biofuels JV

Nopetro Renewables, a newly formed company, will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach.

NOVA Infrastructure, a middle-market infrastructure investment firm, has partnered with Nopetro Energy to create a renewable energy platform focused on renewable natural gas and biofuels, according to a news release.

Nopetro Renewables will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach. In addition to investing in the newly formed Nopetro Renewables’ platform, NOVA also has made an equity investment in Nopetro Energy.

“Our new platform, Nopetro Renewables, seeks to build and operate renewable energy infrastructure, starting with a shovel-ready landfill-gas-to-RNG project in Vero Beach,” Chris Beall, founder and managing partner of NOVA Infrastructure, said in the release.

Nopetro was founded in 2007 with the goal of displacing petroleum consumption with a cleaner, cost-effective and domestic natural gas fuel. Led by Jorge Herrera, the company has developed a strong reputation in the US southeast and currently operates 16 CNG fueling facilities where it serves government, waste, and industrial customers.

In July 2022, NOVA announced the close of its $565m Infrastructure Fund I, which attracted commitments from a diverse group of leading North American and global institutional investors including public and private pension funds, insurance companies, family offices and asset managers.

NOVA’s investment in Nopetro marks its seventh platform investment as part of Fund I and is a continuation of its strategy of targeting middle-market providers across the infrastructure landscape.

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Largest NorthAm SAF producer on IPO path

Montana Renewables, now the largest producer of SAF in North America, is talking to bulge-bracket banks about a public listing that could occur within one year.

Montana Renewables, a subsidiary of Calumet Specialty Products Partners and now the largest producer of sustainable aviation fuel in North America, is on a path to list publicly through an IPO that could occur within one year.

The company as of last year was working with Lazard to review strategic options after receiving inbound interest from strategic players, a process that amounts to “an abundance of riches,” Bruce Fleming, CEO of Montana Renewables, said this morning.

The Montana Renewables facility is a SAF, renewable diesel, and renewable hydrogen platform producing an initial run-rate of 30 million gallons of SAF per year, ramping up to 60 million gallons into 2024 and a potential further expansion to 230 million gallons. The complex completed its startup in late April.

A key financial pivot point for Montana Renewables will be the outcome of its loan guarantee application with the Department of Energy, Fleming said. As of March, the subsidiary had been invited to submit a Part II application for a $600m loan guarantee through the Title XVII Innovative Clean Energy Loan Guarantee Program.

“That is a material strategic anchor,” Fleming said. “With a clean balance sheet, the IPO is enabled; the over-under from the bulge bracket banks that we’re talking to is centered on nine months.

The process could unfold more quickly, he said, noting that future speculation depends on market conditions in which to execute on an IPO.

“Knock on wood, if the world economy is going to be on a stable footing, then we’re going to have a pretty compelling pure-play energy transition offering,” he said. “It’s not a small thing to suddenly be the biggest SAF producer in North America that nobody ever heard of.”

Balance sheet

On April 19, MRL closed a $75 million bridge loan with I Squared Capital. The bridge loan bears a variable rate of interest at SOFR plus 6.0 to 7.3% per annum and we have the flexibility to prepay 50% of principal under the bridge loan from free cash flow by the end of 2024.

In August, 2022, Warburg Pincus agreed to invest $250m in MRL in the form of a participating preferred equity security, which values MRL at a pre-commissioning enterprise value of $2.25bn.

Stonebriar Commercial Finance invested an additional $350m through a pair of sale and leaseback contracts on top of its existing $50m commitment to MRL. The sale and leaseback transactions carry an approximate 12.3% cost of capital and offer certain strategic early termination options. Concurrent with those transactions, the $300m convertible investment from Oaktree Capital Management L.P. in MRL was retired.

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EXCLUSIVE: 8 Rivers co-founder departs firm

A co-founder and executive has departed the North Carolina-based firm, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas.

Bill Brown, a co-founder of the technology commercialization firm and clean fuels developer 8 Rivers Capital, has retired from the company, a spokesperson confirmed via email.
According to Brown’s LinkedIn profile, he is serving now as CEO of New Waters Capital. He co-founded 8 Rivers and also served as CEO and CTO in this nearly 16 years there.
Brown did not respond to a request for comment.
According to 8 Rivers’ website, Dharmesh Patel is serving as interim CEO. The company recently announced development of the Cormorant Clean Energy ammonia production facility in Port Arthur, Texas
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Exclusive: US-Ukraine battery storage firm in seed round

A US-based battery storage technology firm with operations in Ukraine and a utility-offtake pilot project in the southwestern US is in the early stages of finding institutional investors in the US and Europe.

SorbiForce, an Arizona-based battery storage technology firm, is raising $4.7m in seed funding with ambitions to find strategic investors for larger fundraising efforts in the next year, CEO Serhii Kaminskyi said in an interview.

The company, which was founded in western Ukraine and still has R&D operations there, aims to finish the seed round in five months, Kaminskyi said. Currently the US operations are housed at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

The batteries the company designs use little metal compared to other battery pack systems, instead using organic matter that can ultimately be biodegraded. The packs are filled with “ultra porous carbon materials” capable of storing up to 0.7 MWh.

SorbiForce is assisted by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff and Squire Patton Boggs as legal counsels, Kaminskyi said.

The seed round is for a 1 MW pilot project near Tucson, Arizona. That project has offtake contracted with Tucson Electric Power, Kaminskyi said. The B2B business model will be to sell batteries to customers in power generation, industrials, municipalities, and EV charging.

Kaminskyi, speaking from southern Italy, said the company is testing batteries in that country and has had discussions with offtakers in Germany, including automakers. The company has signed an agreement with a European energy company, he said, declining to name which.

The early-stage company is too-early for many financial investors, Kaminskyi said, and is looking for institutional investors with downstream need for battery storage.

“We’ve already received money from customers,” Kaminskyi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put strain on the company, particularly concerning the families of the company’s founding employees, Kaminskyi said. The facilities in Ukraine are safe, but he is in process of moving those facilities to Arizona.

Kaminskyi owns 56% of the company, with additional equity held by the founding scientific team and US employees, he said.

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EnergyTag and the hourly matching ideal

The London-based non-profit EnergyTag has come to the forefront with its framework for global renewable energy hourly matching standards – what it views as a crucial substructure underpinning the future of green product commerce.

When Killian Daly was working for Air Liquide in Paris, sourcing renewable power for the industrial gas producer’s enormous energy needs, he noticed a mismatch in the way power is purchased and the way its green credentials are counted.

“When you buy power, you do hourly batching – you have to respect that electricity can’t just fly across the country,” he said. “And then you look at green power accounting and it’s detached, it’s completely different,” he said, referring to the practice of issuing renewable energy credits for grid power on an annual basis. This allows power consumers to claim they are using clean power produced any time of the year. 

“You can be 100% solar powered all night long, or 100% renewable using Texas wind, even if you’re located in the Northeast,” said Daly, a native of Ireland who is now based out of Brussels as EnergyTag’s executive director. “So for me it was inevitable that someone was going to sort of raise their hand and say, ‘What’s going on here?’”

EnergyTag, a London-based non-profit, was founded in 2020 to address this issue: to make electricity carbon accounting more granular and tied to the reality of the power system. While the organization does not issue or sell renewable energy credits – or even offer its own software – its set of voluntary standards known as Granular Certificates (GCs) have become a leading framework for more systematic carbon accounting across the globe.

The GC scheme has been employed by projects and system-level REC providers internationally, amounting to 5 million MWh of tracking, which, according to Energy Tag, shows that hourly tracking is already a technical reality. In the U.S., it is the basis of the Granular Certificate Trading Alliance, which is led by LevelTen Energy and includes major partners AES, Constellation, Google, and Microsoft. And it underpins systems employed by U.S.-based REC providers like M-RETS and others.

Global hourly matching case studies: EnergyTag

By most accounts, the small-budget outfit has achieved outsize success in its stance on a niche issue that has had a cross-cutting, global impact. Its advisory committee consists of multi-national representation from other non-profits, governmental agencies, and corporates that are aligned on the hourly matching problem. “It’s a global topic and I suppose it gives us a global voice,” said Daly, adding that Energy Tag’s independence allows it to be more to the point than other organizations.

Its chairman, Phil Moody, helped write the rules of energy tracking in Europe, “the only standardized system in the world for certificates,” according to Daly. “That’s a pretty unique set of skills that I suppose we bring to the table that is not really coming from another organization on this specific topic.” When it comes to policy, the organization has homed in on areas like green hydrogen, “where there’s a clear need for proper electricity accounting to avoid massive consequences and massive waste of taxpayer funding,” Daly said.

Time matching for renewable energy tied to green hydrogen production has become an existential issue for many proposed projects and their developers, particularly in the U.S. Under guidance issued by the IRS, project developers would be required to match renewable generation to green hydrogen production on an hourly basis starting in 2028, a requirement that has divided the green hydrogen sector into opposing camps and has been called, by those opposed to it, the death knell of the nascent industry.

More to do

The majority of U.S. renewable energy credit (REC) tracking systems can implement hourly matching akin to the standards put forth by EnergyTag in just a few years, according to a report from the Center for Resource Solutions issued last year. WREGIS, the system covering the western U.S., estimated it would take between three and five years but could cut it closer to three with state and federal support.

“A lot of the foundational aspects of how you set up a tracking system – they’re already there,” Daly said. EnergyTag’s granular certificate standards are focused on building systems as an extension of existing programs. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Daly said. “We’re taking standard definition television and making it HD.”

Although many of the U.S. registries are well on their way to being ready for hourly matching by 2028, Daly said there’s some work to be done in the phase-in period “to have a standardized approach across the REC registries, just so they can talk to each other, so that they can be audited.”

Even so, the implementation of a federal standard through 45V – even if it is an energy policy administered through tax authorities – is the only comprehensive federal policy that “can help move the environmental attribute markets to where they want to go,” M-RETS CEO Ben Gerber said during a panel discussion at Clean Power in Minneapolis on May 7.

Gerber said that some concessions might need to be made to appease industry concerns. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved the [hourly matching implementation] date back to 2030” from 2028, he said.

In an interview, Gerber added that he would like to see the establishment of a more robust market for trade in RECs, such as a platform advanced by Incubex, allowing developers to buy credits when they are short and sell when they are long.

EnergyTag itself also notes that the ideal of reaching 100% hourly matching might not be possible, at least not in the near term. “If you’re a hydrogen producer and you are hourly matching at a high level, but then you do not match hour by hour for 2% of your hours right now, under the current proposed rules it would look like you would then be bumped out of that top tier threshold” for tax credits, Alex Piper, EnergyTag’s head of U.S. policy, said.

This functional issue has been flagged by many in the pro-hourly matching camp, Piper said, “as a risk that is pretty existential and should be reevaluated by Treasury to determine if there are different flexibility mechanisms that can be included that would allow a project to miss a number of hours without being on that brink of in and out of the money, which could absolutely undermine the entire project.”

Devraj Banerjee of Ambient Fuels, a green hydrogen developer that has been vocal about the need to modify the proposed guidance, said that, while he agrees that a more granular matching scheme makes sense once renewable portfolios and banking systems are more advanced, allowing for flexibility now would help the industry get off the ground.

“What would be a significant fix in the [45V] policy would be allowing early mover projects to have either complete annual matching for the life of the tax credit, or barring that, some kind of pro rata share of annual matching in tandem with hourly matching to not only reduce overall economics but mitigate the need to over procure and provide the ability to be a bit more flexible with renewable generation to avoid falling out of 45V compliance if there’s performance issues, etc,” he said on the Clean Power green hydrogen panel earlier this month. “So some kind of annual carve out for early movers for the life of the tax credit would be a big change, and very helpful.”

In spite of the policy progress and advancements in hourly matching certification schemes, Daly said it’s still early days for accounting standards for global green commerce. “I fundamentally do believe what we’re seeing here on hydrogen in Europe and also now in the U.S. is only the beginning of a much broader discussion and framework around creating clean trade, marketplaces that are trading clean products, because that’s rule number one: is it clean, and that’s where we need to get into these details around accounting and three pillars,” he said.

“So I think it’s just a microcosm of actually a much broader set of discussions and actions over the coming years as we look to set up Transatlantic clean trade and in other parts of the world as well.”

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