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Methanol-to-hydrogen firm planning capital raise

An early-stage provider of distributed methanol-to-hydrogen solutions is planning a capital raise as it scales up.

Kaizen Clean Energy, a Houston-based methanol-to-hydrogen fuel company, is planning to raise additional capital in support of upcoming projects.

The company, which uses methanol and water to produce hydrogen with modular units, recently completed a funding round led by Balcor Companies, in which Balcor took a minority interest in Kaizen.

Additional funding in the capital raise was provided by friends and family, Kaizen co-founder and chief commercial officer Eric Smith said in an interview.

But with its sights on larger project opportunities this year, the company is already targeting an additional capital raise to support continued growth, Smith said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise and potential advisors, but noted that the company’s CFO, Craig Klaasmeyer, is a former Credit Suisse banker.

Kaizen’s methanol model utilizes a generator license from Element 1 and adds in systems to produce power or hydrogen, targeting the diesel generator market, EV charging and microgrids as well as hydrogen fueling and industrial uses.

Compared to trucking in hydrogen, the model using methanol, an abundant chemical, cuts costs by around 50%, Smith said, noting that Kaizen’s containers are at cost parity with diesel.

In addition, the Kaizen container is cleaner than alternatives, producing no nitric or sulfur oxide, according to Smith. Its carbon intensity score is 45, compared to 90 for the California electric grid and 100 for diesel generators.

Smith also touts a streamlined permitting process for Kaizen’s containerized product. The company recently received a letter of exemption for the container from a California air district due to low or no emissions. The product similarly does not require a California state permit and similarly, when off grid, no city permits are required, he added.

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BlackRock’s Navigator CO2 pipeline files updated permit application

Facing local opposition, BlackRock’s $3.4bn Navigator CO2 pipeline has filed an updated permit application with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

BlackRock-backed Navigator CO2 Ventures has filed an updated permit application with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

The new proposal reflects an expanded scope of the carbon capture, utilization, and storage project, Heartland Greenway, and includes the addition of 42 miles of proposed pipeline that will connect to additional permanent storage locations in central Illinois.

The Navigator CO2 pipeline has faced pushback from residents and local authorities across its footprint. Proponents previously withdrew an application for eminent domain powers in Illinois after state regulators said the filing was incomplete. The company then announced it would reapply with an expanded route.

The project scope includes 21 carbon dioxide collection points – at midwestern biofuel plants – along with 1,350 miles of new pipeline and four booster stations across Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Project costs, including capture and sequestration facilities, are projected at approximately $3.4bn.

The proposed pipeline is contracted with industrial producers to capture, transport, and store up to 10 million metric tons of CO2 annually. When fully expanded, the system will be able to transport up to 15 MMT of CO2 annually, according to documentation. Construction of the project is expected to commence in 2Q24 pending receipt of regulatory approvals.

Equity funding for the project is primarily sourced from BlackRock’s Global Energy & Power Infrastructure Fund III, which has committed equity of $5.1bn.

Development capital cost is estimated at $245m, which includes detailed engineering, property survey work, and acquisition of real property interests for the pipeline system and the sequestration facilities to be utilized in the construction phase. The development phase of the project is funded through equity commitments from BlackRock, the Navigator management team, and other investors.

The construction phase of the project will be funded by incremental equity sourced from GEPIF III and other investors, along with a project financing facility sourced by a consortium of lenders. The project has commitments from GEPIF III and other investors for incremental equity required for the construction phase.

On or near the commercial operation date of the project, a long-term debt facility will be put in place to refinance the construction loans, according to the application.

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US DOE awards $118m for sustainable biofuels projects

The US Department of Energy has awarded $118m in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for transportation and manufacturing needs.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $118m in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for America’s transportation and manufacturing needs, according to a news release.

The selected projects, located at universities and private companies, will drive the domestic production of biofuels and bioproducts by advancing biorefinery development, from pre-pilot to demonstration, to create sustainable fuels that reduce emissions associated with fossil fuels, the release states.

Projects selected as part of this funding opportunity will contribute to meeting DOE’s goal to achieve cost-competitive biofuels and at least a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

Made from widely available domestic feedstocks and advanced refining technologies, energy-dense biofuels provide a pathway for low-carbon fuels that can lower greenhouse gas emissions throughout the transportation sector and accelerate the bioeconomy. Financing for novel biorefinery process systems can be a barrier to commercializing advanced biofuels, and this funding will reduce technological uncertainties and enable industry deployment.

The selected projects include pre-pilot, pilot, and demonstration projects that will scale-up existing biomass to fuel technologies that will eventually create millions of gallons of low-carbon fuel annually. By investing in these technologies, the projects will create good-paying jobs in rural and underserved communities in nine states. Plans submitted by the selected projects show intent to collaborate with local school districts to educate and train the bioenergy workforce of tomorrow.  Additionally, the funded projects align with renewable fuels goals in the first-ever U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, a multi-agency framework for reducing emissions, creating a robust transportation workforce, and securing America’s energy independence. The projects also support the U.S. Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge goal of enabling the production of three billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel annually by 2030 and 35 billion gallons annually by 2050.

The 17 selected projects fall into four areas:

  1. Pre-Pilot Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries,
  2. Pilot Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries,
  3. Demonstration Scale-Up of Integrated Biorefineries, and
  4. Gen-1 Corn Ethanol Emission Reduction.

The selected projects are located in nine states and Washington, DC, and focus on technologies including anaerobic digestion, conversion of cellulosic sugars to SAF, catalytic biorefining, among others.

The following projects were selected:

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Hy24 and Masdar in green hydrogen co-development and investment framework

The Hy24-managed Clean Hydrogen Infrastructure Fund expects that co-investment and co-development opportunities will be made available to Masdar over a five-year time span.

Masdar and Hy24 have signed a strategic joint development and investment framework agreement to foster large-scale green hydrogen projects, according to a news release.

Masdar and Hy24 agreed a framework to explore the development and investment in projects along the Power-to-X value chain, which involves producing renewable power converted via electrolyzers into green hydrogen and, subsequently, its derivatives such as green ammonia, e-methanol, sustainable aviation fuel and liquid hydrogen. The companies will focus on projects located in key regional hubs across Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The Hy24-managed “Clean Hydrogen Infrastructure Fund” expects that co-investment and co-development opportunities will be made available to Masdar, which could represent up to €2bn of investments in the next five years. Green hydrogen will play a key role in enabling faster and more widespread global adoption of renewable energy, helping the planet to meet net-zero goals.

The agreement reinforces Hy24’s role as a catalyst in fostering the hydrogen economy and will leverage Masdar’s 20 GW of renewable energy projects worldwide, enabling the two leaders to target exploration of larger transactions and project developments across broader geographies at scale and pace. The agreement will also open new investment opportunities for Hy24 in the Middle East and North Africa and benefit from Ardian’s long-standing partnerships established in the region under the leadership of François-Aïssa Touazi (Chairman Ardian Ltd, Abu Dhabi). Hy24 is a joint venture between Ardian, Europe’s largest private investment house, and FiveT Hydrogen, a clean hydrogen investment platform.

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Exclusive: Glenfarne exploring hydrogen projects on existing asset base

Glenfarne Energy Transition is advancing its flagship liquefied natural gas project, Texas LNG, and evaluating hydrogen projects on or near its existing asset base on the Gulf Coast.

The Biden administration’s pause on permits for new US liquefied natural gas facilities hasn’t hurt all unbuilt projects.

Glenfarne Energy Transition, a subsidiary of Glenfarne Group, is moving ahead with its fully permitted lower-carbon flagship LNG export facility, Texas LNG, as the project is now set up to be the only such US project to reach FID this year.

Texas LNG, a 4 million MTPA facility proposed for Brownsville, Texas, will be the lowest carbon emitting LNG facility approved in the US, largely due to its use of electric motors in refrigerated compression. 

As designed, the plant would emit .15 metric tons of CO2e per ton of LNG produced, placing it slightly lower than the much larger Freeport LNG facility, which also has electric motors and emits around .17 metric tons of CO2 per ton of LNG.

The carbon intensity measurement counts emissions at the Texas LNG plant only, and not related emissions from the electric grid, which is why Glenfarne is seeking to source power for the project from wind and solar generation in south Texas, Adam Prestidge, senior vice president at Glenfarne, said in an interview.

In fact, the lower carbon aspects of Texas LNG helps with every element of the project, Prestidge said, including conversations with European offtakers and potential debt investors.

“Having a focus on sustainability is table stakes for every conversation,” he added. “It’s the finance side, it’s the offtake side, it’s our conversations with regulatory agencies.”

LNG pause

Glenfarne is seeking to raise up to $5bn of equity and debt for the project, according to news reports, a process that could benefit from the Biden administration’s pause on issuing permits for LNG projects that export to countries without free-trade agreements with the US.

“Our confidence and our timetable for that has probably been accelerated and cemented by the fact we are fully permitted, despite the Biden LNG pause impacting the broader market,” Prestidge said.

“The market has pretty quickly recognized that if you want to invest in LNG or buy LNG from a project that’s going to FID in 2024, you really don’t have very many fully permitted options right now.”

Glenfarne’s other US LNG project, called Magnolia LNG, has not yet received the required federal approvals and is therefore on pause along with a handful of other projects.

For Magnolia, Glenfarne is proposing to use a technology for which it owns the patent: optimized single mixed refrigerant, or OSMR, which uses ammonia instead of propane for cooling, resulting in less feed gas needed to run the facility and thus about 30% lower emissions than the average gas-powered LNG facility, Prestidge said.

Hydrogen projects

Glenfarne Energy Transition last year announced the formation of its hydrogen initiative, saying that projects in Chile, Texas, and Louisiana would eventually produce 1,500 kilotons of ammonia. 

“We’ve got existing infrastructure in the US Gulf Coast, and in Chile. A lot of the infrastructure required to produce LNG is similar or can be easily adapted to the infrastructure needed to produce ammonia,” Prestidge said. “And so, we’ve looked at locating hydrogen and ammonia production at sites in or near the ports of Brownsville and Lake Charles,” where Texas LNG and Magnolia LNG are located, respectively.

“The familiarity with the sites and the infrastructure and the local elements, make those pretty good fits for us,” he added.

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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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AGDC seeks $150m in development capital for Alaska LNG project

The Alaska corporation is raising capital to reach FID on a $44bn LNG project that includes the construction of a natural gas pipeline and carbon capture infrastructure.

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is actively working to raise $150m in development capital for the Alaska LNG project, with Goldman Sachs providing advisory services.

This capital will cover third-party Front End Engineering Design (FEED) costs, project management, legal and commercial expenses, and overhead for 8 Star Alaska, the entity overseeing the project. Investors will receive a majority interest in both 8 Star Alaska and Alaska LNG as part of the fundraising efforts, according to a presentation​​.

AGDC, a public corporation of the state of Alaska, is hoping to finalize a deal for development capital in the next 12 months, but has not set a definitive timeline for the fundraise, AGDC’s Tim Fitzpatrick said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $44bn, according to Fitzpatrick, and consists of three principal infrastructural components:

  1. Arctic Carbon Capture (ACC) Plant: Located in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, this plant is designed to remove carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide before natural gas enters the pipeline.
  2. Natural Gas Pipeline: This 807-mile pipeline, with a 42-inch diameter, connects the ACC plant to the LNG facility and is capable of transporting 3.7 billion ft³/d of natural gas. It includes multiple offtake points for in-state residential, commercial, and industrial use.
  3. Alaska LNG Facility: Situated at tidewater in Nikiski, Alaska, this facility features three liquefaction trains, two loading berths, two 240,000 m³ LNG tanks, and a jetty. It is designed to produce 20 million tons per year of LNG​​.

Strategies to raise the necessary funds include collaborating with established LNG developers, strategic and financial investors, and possibly forming a consortium, according to the presentation. All project equity will flow through 8 Star Alaska, keeping the legal and commercial structure of the project consistent​​.

As of last year, the corporation was negotiating sales agreements for a significant portion of the Alaska LNG project’s capacity. Discussions include contracts covering 8 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at fixed prices and market-linked charges, and equity offtake talks for up to 12 MTPA. Additionally, three traditional Asian utility customers have shown interest in a minimum of 3 MTPA, potentially increasing to 5 MTPA.

These negotiations involve traditional Asian utility buyers, LNG traders, and oil and gas companies, all credit-worthy and large-scale market participants, the company said. Some buyers are contemplating equity offtake, investing at the Final Investment Decision (FID) in exchange for LNG supplied at cost​​.

A key component of the project’s advancement is securing gas supply agreement terms, identified as a prerequisite by multiple investors. AGDC has held meetings with executives from two major producers to emphasize the need for Gas Supply Precedent Agreements to attract further investment. These discussions, highlighting the project’s importance to Alaska, were joined by key figures including the DOR Commissioner Crum, the DNR Commissioner Boyle, and representatives from Goldman Sachs​​.

The Japan Energy Summit, sponsored by AGDC, focused on the need for new LNG capacity in Asia. Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade & Industry (METI) expressed strong support for new LNG investments and offtake, emphasizing the replacement of coal with gas in developing Asian markets​​.

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