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Microsoft to buy SAF certificates from World Energy

The contract spans 10 years and will reduce more than 469,000 metric tonnes of CO2 from corporate air travel.

World Energy, the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) producer and low-carbon solutions provider, has reached a long-term agreement with Microsoft to accelerate the decarbonization of corporate air travel and its supply chain cargo through the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel certificates (SAFc).

Spanning ten years, this is the longest SAFc Book & Claim agreement ever signed. An estimated 43.7 million gallons of petroleum jet fuel will be displaced with low-carbon SAF. The emissions reduction is expected to exceed 469,000 metric tonnes of CO2. That is the equivalent of flying 824,053 economy class passengers from Seattle to New York and back on fully decarbonized flights, or decarbonizing the transportation of over 54,000 metric tons of cargo between Asia and North America.¡¡

The length and size of this commitment will help accelerate the emergence of the aviation decarbonization industry by helping it reach profitable operation at scale.

“We’re thrilled to be launching this long-term collaboration with Microsoft,” said Gene Gebolys, CEO of World Energy. “Through this agreement, we will empower one of the world’s most recognized innovators to grow their business while minimizing their carbon impact and together we’re committing to making a sustained push well into the next decade to decarbonize aviation at ever greater scale. Microsoft has made some the most ambitious decarbonization commitments of any corporate leader and we are honored to be teaming up to help them meet those goals.”

“This agreement exemplifies the power of collaboration and technology in driving meaningful change in one of the hardest-to-abate sectors,” said Katie Ross, director, carbon reduction strategy & market development, Microsoft. “Not only will it help to reduce our business travel and supply chain logistics emissions, but we hope this agreement will inspire others to take action and support the transition to alternative fuels that will enable a decarbonized aviation industry.”

This agreement will also help establish broader trust in digital monitoring and verification for SAFc. With SAFc, the fuel’s environmental attributes are separated from the fuel itself and are purchased by a partner as part of their decarbonization program. The physical production and use of the SAF is tied specifically to the certificates, independently accredited, transparently tracked, and third-party verified using a digital chain of custody system referred to as “Book & Claim.” This enables both airlines and corporate leaders, such as Microsoft, to support the decarbonization benefits of SAF without having to take delivery of physical fuel.

Additionally, SAFc delivered via Book & Claim helps to minimize both logistic costs and emissions because the fuel can be used near where it is produced rather than being shipped around the world. All product will achieve the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) certification, widely recognized as the most rigorous standard in the industry. This supply will be produced at World Energy’s facility in Paramount, CA, the world’s first commercial scale SAF production plant, where the company is now making a multi-billion dollar investment to expand scale and drive innovation.

SAF is made from non-petroleum based renewable feedstocks such as fats, greases, oils, yard waste, other municipal solid waste, woody biomass and other feedstocks. Currently, SAF is blended with conventional Jet A fuel at a level up to 50%, reducing aviation emissions by up to 80%.

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Yara and Navigator invest in ammonia bunkering start-up

The investment is expected to enable the start-up, Azane, to begin construction of its first bunkering unit for ammonia supply in Norway.

Yara Growth Ventures AS, the venture investment arm of Yara International ASA, and Navigator Holdings Ltd. have each acquired a 14.5% interest in the Norwegian startup Azane Fuel Solutions AS, according to a news release.

Azane, a joint venture between ECONNECT Energy AS and Amon Maritime AS , both of Norway, was founded in Norway in 2020 as a company that develops proprietary technology and services for ammonia fuel handling, to facilitate the transition to green fuels for shipping.

Subject to customary conditions, Azane intends to build the world’s first ammonia bunkering network, with Yara Clean Ammonia already pre-ordering 15 units from Azane. The investment made by Yara and Navigator is expected to enable Azane to begin construction of its first bunkering unit for ammonia supply in Norway, aiming to kickstart the transition to zero-carbon fuels for maritime transportation. Future value creation for Azane is expected to come through international expansion with its bunkering solutions and broadening of its offerings in ammonia fuel handling technology.

The parties anticipate that the commencement of operations of the bunkering units will begin in Scandinavia in 2025. The total addressable market for ammonia powered ships is estimated to equal to the entire deep sea shipping fleet of 100,000 vessels worldwide, which over time is expected to transition to zero-carbon fuels. Currently, the world of ocean shipping accounts for approximately 3% of global emissions.

Azane is a commercial partner of Yara Clean Ammonia, who expects to provide clean ammonia to be stored in Azane’s bunkering units once operational.

“Currently ammonia fuel bunkering does not exist,” Stian Nygaard, Investment Director, Yara Growth Ventures, said. “With this investment it is expected to become a reality in a year, starting in Scandinavia. This is anticipated to be a huge milestone for reducing emissions from the shipping industry. By enabling Azane to be the first mover on providing this key part of the infrastructure, our goal is to fill a gap in the ammonia chain needed for fueling ships.”

Stian Nygaard is also joining the board to help build the company as a strategic investor.

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Direct air capture company to provide credits to Microsoft

The company is developing a project in Wyoming that will capture and store 5 million tons of CO2 per year by 2030.

CarbonCapture Inc, a climate tech company that develops direct air capture (DAC) systems based on modular open systems architecture, has reached an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to provide engineered carbon removal credits, according to a news release.

“We’re thrilled to help Microsoft move toward its commitment to be carbon negative by 2030 and to remove all of its historic CO2 emissions by 2050,” said Adrian Corless, CEO and CTO, CarbonCapture, Inc. “Validation of CarbonCapture’s scalable approach to DAC from a forward-thinking company like Microsoft is an important signal to the entire market, demonstrating the value of high-quality carbon removal credits.”

CarbonCapture designs and manufactures modular DAC systems that can be deployed in large arrays. Currently, the company is developing Project Bison, a large DAC facility in Wyoming, that will follow a phased rollout plan to capture and store five million tons of atmospheric CO2 per year by 2030. This project is expected to be the first commercial-scale project to utilize Class VI injection wells to permanently store CO2 captured from ambient air using DAC technology and the first massively scalable DAC project in the United States.

“Purchasing DAC carbon removal credits is an important part of Microsoft’s pursuit of permanent, durable carbon removal,” said Phillip Goodman, director, Carbon Removal Portfolio, Microsoft. “This agreement with CarbonCapture helps us move toward our carbon negative goal, while also helping to catalyze the growth of the direct air capture industry as a whole.”

In addition to dramatically reducing current emissions, the global community needs to collectively remove 6-10 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 in order to remain on a path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. As DAC facilities begin to come online over the next several years, corporations like Microsoft are playing a critical role in helping to scale capacity by committing to advanced purchase agreements.

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Decarbonization start-up raises $7.5m seed capital

The start-up is seeking to commercialize a technology that eliminates carbon from natural gas to produce clean hydrogen and solid carbon.

ETCH, INC. (ETCH), a decarbonization company that eliminates carbon from natural gas to produce both clean hydrogen and solid carbon, has secured $7.5m in seed-stage funding from Emerald Development Managers LP, according to a news release.

ETCH will use these funds to take the technology to market and begin commercialization. ETCH anticipates that it will be field testing commercial units later this year.

Formulated in the labs of Johns Hopkins University by Prof. Jonah Erlebacher, Ph.D., The ETCH ProcessTM uses a novel closed-loop chemical reaction cycle that leads to highly efficient thermal and materials management in reactor systems. ETCH’s revolutionary decarbonization technology delivers unrivaled environmental impact, economic value, and versatility that will accelerate the clean energy transition. In 2018, the project team secured a competitive multi-year grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which provided critical research funding.

The ETCH ProcessTM is a clear differentiator among other hydrogen technologies for its:

  • Efficiency: The ETCH ProcessTM can convert nearly 100% of natural gas input into hydrogen, regardless of scale, and it requires minimal maintenance through its modular design.
  • Affordability: ETCH’s low-cost solution is on track to beat the DOE Hydrogen Shot cost target of less than $1/kg.
  • Sustainability: ETCH requires less energy and no water thereby providing the most versatility to operate across geographies.
  • Security: ETCH uses earth-abundant materials that can be sourced domestically and will not be subject to supply chain disruptions and thereby enhance energy security.

“We cannot solve our climate and emissions challenge without cleaning up natural gas,” said Dr. Jonah Erlebacher, ETCH Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. “The ETCH ProcessTM is a holistic solution that will allow decarbonized natural gas to be a part of our global energy system. This significant seed-stage funding demonstrates confidence in our technology and business plan as we work toward a clean energy future.”

“ETCH has developed an amazing new technology. It is practical, has dramatically lower operating and capital costs compared to any existing or proposed decarbonization approach, and is easily deployable at any scale” said Neil Cohen, Founder and Chairman of Emerald Development Managers. “The ETCH ProcessTM can be easily implemented in-line at millions of facilities, delivering clean hydrogen and significant solid carbon that can be used in a multitude of ways.”

“The ETCH ProcessTM is an intelligent steward of our natural resources – at scale – for an energy secure and sustainable future,” said Ed Schlesinger, Dean of Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering. “We are proud to support ETCH as it moves forward on its journey.”

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Ambient Fuels evaluating hydrogen project acquisitions

The company is well capitalized following a $250m equity investment from Generate Capital and is now opportunistically reviewing an initial slate of project M&A offerings.

Following an equity investment from Generate Capital, Ambient Fuels has begun to evaluate potential acquisitions of hydrogen projects that are under development, CEO Jacob Susman said in an interview.

“We’ve seen our first project M&A opportunities come through in the last 10 days or so,” Susman said.

Three projects for sale involve land positions, he said. Those that appear most attractive have a clear line of site to offtake or a strong approach to renewable power supply. Two out of three are not on the Gulf Coast.

“In no instance are these brokered deals,” Susman said.

Following the $250m equity investment from Generate Capital, Ambient is capitalized for several years and has no immediate plans to seek debt or tax equity, Susman said. The transaction was done without the help of a financial advisor.

Moving forward Ambient is open to JV formation with a partner that can help access offtake and renewable power, Susman said. Those points will drive future capital investment in the company and were resources that Generate brought to the table besides money.

According to ReSource‘s project tracker, Ambient is involved in at least two of the hubs that were encouraged by the DOE to submit a final application: California’s Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), and the Port of Corpus Christi Green Hydrogen Hub.

In 2021 Ambient completed a funding round led by SJF Ventures. Several other VC funds and angel investors also participated.

In January The Hydrogen Source reported that Ambient was in exclusivity with an equity provider.

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Exclusive: Biomethane firm planning funding round

A biomethane solutions provider with projects in Europe and the US is planning a fifth round of funding to launch early next year, with a need to raise additional project debt.

Electrochaea, the US- and Europe-based biomethane developer, will go to market in 1Q24 for a new round of equity funding, with a near term need for project debt as well, two executives told ReSource.

The company, which was spun out from an incubator at The University of Chicago with offices in Denmark, has projects in Denmark, Colorado, New York and Switzerland. It is backed by Baker Hughes and, from early fundraising efforts, Munich Venture Partners, senior director Aafko Scheringa said. The former investor participated in its most recent (fourth) $40m funding round.

Electrochaea uses a patented biocatalyst that converts green hydrogen and carbon dioxide into BioCat Methane, a pipeline-grade renewable gas.

The average size of a project is roughly $25m, Scheringa said.

Funds from the next round will provide three years of working capital, CEO Mitch Hein added.

Electrochaea has not worked with a financial advisor to date, Hein said, adding that he may have need for one for new processes but has not engaged with anyone.

Scheringa said he is working to achieve commercialization on a pipeline of projects, with a 10 MWe bio-methanation plant in Denmark being farthest along with a mandatory start date before 2026.

Electrochaea has a bio-methanation reactor system in partnership with SoCalGas at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy System Integration Facility in Golden, Colorado, though Hein said a project in New York is as advanced in its development.

Bio-methane can be burned in place of natural gas with no systems degradation issues, so gas offtakers are a natural fit for Electrochaea, Scheringa said. Cheap clean electricity paired with available CO2 is critical, so the company will look to places like Texas, Spain, Scandinavia, Quebec and the “corn states” of the US Midwest, for new projects.

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Carbon-negative materials firm in $40m equity raise

A Texas-based manufacturer of renewable plastics is developing its first plant in the Midwest, with a commercialization date set for 2026.

Citroniq Chemicals, a maker of renewable and carbon-negative plastics, is undergoing a $40m equity raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The process has launched and is being led by Young America Capital, the sources said. The company’s projects account for about $1bn in CapEx.

Based in Houston, Citroniq uses bio-based feedstocks to produce plastics at scale. The company recently signed a Letter of Intent with Lummus Technology for the development of Citroniq’s green polypropylene projects in North America.

“With a projected investment of over $5bn and a combined polypropylene annual capacity of over 3.5 billion pounds, Citroniq is prepared to execute a rapid expansion plan of its E2O process, to meet the market’s growing need for sustainable, carbon negative polypropylene at a competitive price,” Mel Badheka, Principal and Co-Founder of Citroniq Chemicals, said in a press release announcing the LOI. “Located in the Midwest, Citroniq’s first plant is scheduled to start production in 2026 and provide identical, drop-in products that can be directly certified as biogenic through physical testing.”

In January Citroniq announced a separate LOI with Mitsui Plastics for a large-scale supply agreement for sustainable polypropylene.

Citronia and Young America Capital did not respond to requests for comment.

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