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Midwestern SAF developer in capital raise

A municipal solid waste solutions firm based in the midwestern US is undergoing a $30m capital raise ahead of its first SAF project with plans to launch another raise late this year or early next.

Illinois Clean Fuels, the municipal solid waste solutions firm in Deerfield, Illinois, has mandated two advisors to run a capital raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Chabina Energy Partners and Weild & Co. are assisting on the process, which the company plans to have finished by October, the sources said.

The equity will be put toward six recovery facilities to supply feedstock for an unannounced project located in the Chicagoland region, one of the sources said. Following two years or so of engineering and permitting, that project should enter construction.

In December or early 1Q24 ICF plans to launch another equity raise for development capital.

ICF, Chabina and Weild & Co. declined to comment.

Illinois Clean Fuels has a synthetic fuel plant under development that will convert municipal solid waste into sustainable aviation fuel in combination with carbon capture and storage, according to its website.

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French auto supplier gets €74m in public funding for hydrogen activities

The funding will support Plastic Omnium’s growth strategy for hydrogen mobility in France.

French automotive supplier Plastic Omnium has received €74m from the national government to support its growth strategy for hydrogen mobility in France.

The award was announced by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne during a visit to Plastic Omnium’s α-Alphatech research and development center. The  public funding is part of the PIIEC (Important Project of Common European Interest) framework and supports projects considered essential for Europe’s competitiveness.

Laurent Favre, Plastic Omnium’s CEO, welcomed the government’s decision to support development of the hydrogen industry in France, and announced the construction in Compiègne of Europe’s largest hydrogen vessels factory. The future facility will produce  80,000 vessels a year, with the  first produced as of 2025. The new plant in Compiègne and its expansion of hydrogen activities in France will in time represent around 200 jobs.

Laurent Favre also announced the signing of two major contracts with Stellantis and HYVIA. Both contracts  cover the  design  and  production, at its future Compiègne plant, of 700-bar high-pressure hydrogen vessels modules for commercial vehicles. Laurent Favre declared that: “The support of the French government allows us to accelerate the ramp-up of our industrial production of hydrogen vessels in France. The signing of two new contracts with Stellantis and HYVIA illustrates our customers’ confidence in our technological expertise in hydrogen storage. These announcements are a major step in our ambition to become the world leader in hydrogen mobility by 2030 and the preferred partner of the players in this sector, serving the profound transformation of our industry towards low-carbon mobility”.

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Bloom Energy hires VP of business development

Razvan Panati held various technology roles at Siemens and later served as global head of R&D power electronics at Italian multinational Marelli.

Bloom Energy has hired Razvan Panati as VP of business development, strategic microgrids and EV, according to a post on LinkedIn.

In the new role Panati will lead the company in developing efforts to enable Bloom’s solid oxide Energy Servers to integrate with microgrid and electrical vehicle charging infrastructure.

Panati held various technology roles at Siemens and later served as global head of R&D power electronics at Italian multinational Marelli.

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Norway-based HydrogenPro signals push into U.S. with new CEO hire

The OEM for alkaline electrolyzers is targeting the US for growth with the hire of Tarjei Johansen, who has held senior roles in Houston.

HydrogenPro ASA has appointed Tarjei Johansen as new chief executive officer, according to a press release.

The interim CEO and founder of HydrogenPro Richard Espeseth will return to his former position as business developer and technology leader in the company.

Johansen has held senior roles at the Houston-based operations of Bureau Veritas, Kemira, and Schlumberger, according to his LinkedIn account.

HydrogenPro is a technology company and an OEM for high pressure alkaline electrolyzer and supplies large scale green hydrogen plants. It has partnered with DG Fuels in the US, among others, to supply hydrogen for sustainable aviation fuel via its electrolyzers.

“US will be HydrogenPro’s most important market in the coming years, and Tarjei brings 25 years of experience in this market. Tarjei is a merited leader known for his multifaceted strategic execution skills, drive and ability to energize organizations. We are confident that Tarjei together with the Company´s executive team and board of directors will continue the development of HydrogenPro as a leading provider of green hydrogen technology,” said Ellen Hanetho, chair of the board of directors of HydrogenPro.

“I am excited to join HydrogenPro to promote its leading green hydrogen technology in a fast-growing energy transition market. I will work alongside my colleagues to create customer- and shareholder value every day,” said Johansen.

Johansen enters his new position on December 1st this year. He will move back to Norway where HydrogenPro is headquartered.

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Exclusive: Ammonia plant sale paused until commercial operations

The sale process for a Texas ammonia plant has been paused until the facility reaches commercial operations.

Gulf Coast Ammonia, the developer of a world-scale ammonia plant in Texas City, Texas, has paused a sale process until the plant reaches commercial operations, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The process to sell the plant, which will produce 1.3 million tons of ammonia per year, was underway earlier this year, led by Jefferies as sellside advisor. The plant was expected to reach COD in 2023, according to documentation.

The project was initiated by Agrifos Partners LLC and advanced to FID in collaboration with joint venture development partners Mabanaft and Macquarie Capital. Following the FID taken in late 2019, GCA is wholly owned by a joint venture of Mabanaft and Lotus Infrastructure (formerly known as Starwood Energy).

GCA is investing $600m towards the construction, operation, and ownership of the ammonia plant, which is situated on land owned by Eastman Chemical Company within Texas City’s industrial park. It includes a portion of Eastman’s port access. 

In tandem with the ammonia plant construction, Air Products is building a $500m steam methane reformer to provide hydrogen to the plant via pipeline. Air Products noted in a recent investor presentation that the SMR project recently came onstream.

Officials at Lotus, Mabanaft, and Jefferies did not reply to inquiries seeking comment.

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Exclusive: California IPP considering hydrogen options for gas generation portfolio

A California-based IPP is considering burning hydrogen in the thermal plants it acquires, as well as in a portfolio of gas peaking assets it is developing in Texas and the western US.

Nightpeak Energy, the Oakland-based IPP backed by Energy Spectrum Capital, is planning to have wide optionality to burn hydrogen in the gas plants it acquires, as well as in quick-start peaking natural gas assets it is developing in Texas and the western US, CEO Paris Hays said in an interview.

“There’s just not a lot of places in this country where you can procure enough hydrogen at a reasonable price to actually serve wholesale electricity customers,” Hays said of the existing hydrogen landscape.

Still, OEMs are figuring out in real time which of their deployed fleet can burn hydrogen, he said. Studies on blending seem to be yielding positive results.

“That’s great news for a business like ours, because we can have optionality,” Hays said. When interacting with equipment providers, conversion to hydrogen is an important, if expensive, discussion point.

“We want to be in a position to be able to do that for our customers,” Hays said. “We can offer a premium product, which is kind of rare in our business.”

Nightpeak recently purchased Saguaro Power Co., which owns a 90 MW combined cycle power plant in Nevada. That facility is a candidate for hydrogen repowering, Hays said, though that’s just one option for an asset that is currently cash-flowing well.

The Nevada facility is close to California, which notably is a market with a demonstrated appetite for paying green premiums, Hays said.

“We wouldn’t manufacture hydrogen ourselves, we would be a buyer,” he said. “This is one path that any plants we own or develop could take in the future.”

Nightpeak has yet to announce any greenfield projects. But Hays said the company is developing a portfolio of “quick-start” natural gas generation projects in ERCOT and WECC. Those assets, 100 MW or more, are to be developed with the concept of hydrogen conversion or blending in mind.

Proposition 7, which recently passed in Texas, could present an opportunity for Nightpeak as the legislation’s significant provisions for natural gas development has pundits and some lawmakers calling for the assets to be hydrogen-ready.

Investor interest in being able to convert gas assets to burn hydrogen reflect an important decision-making process for Nightpeak, Hays said.

“Does it makes sense to just buy a turbine that only burns natural gas and may be a stranded asset at some point, or would we rather pay and select a turbine that already has the optionality?” Hays said. “Putting price aside, you’re always going to go for optionality.”

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Exclusive: Former green hydrogen executive raising capital for fusion startup

A former executive that developed large hydrogen and ammonia projects in Texas is raising money in a new role with a fusion energy firm with ambitions to co-locate generation with heavy industry and fuels production.

Tokamak Energy, the UK-based fusion energy startup, is seeking to raise about $80m in a self-conducted Series C capital raise, President Michael Ginsberg told ReSource.

The company previously hired Bank of America to run a $1bn raise but pulled back on the process in favor of more incremental growth, Ginsberg said. The company has already raised $40m of the $120m Series C and is aiming for a close by mid-summer.

With US operations in West Virginia (where co-founder Mark Koepke is a professor of physics at WVU) and headquarters in Oxford, England, Tokamak was recently included in the US Department of Energy’s multimillion-dollar Fusion Development Program and partnered with General Atomics on advanced magnet technology.

Ginsberg previously worked as vice president of technology and project execution at Avina Clean Hydrogen, where he was instrumental in developing the Nueces Clean Ammonia project in Texas. He said Tokamak is planning to build fusion generation in the United States, but has a magnets business with a near-term return profile.

Magnets business

Tokamak is a developer of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.

They are developed for fusion to contain plasma energy, but like the semi-conductor business, they’ve had applications in other industries, such as defense, offshore wind turbines, and mineral separation.

First revenue from those magnets, from another fusion company, came in last year, he said. There are ongoing contract negotiations with the US Department of Defense and an imaging device maker that uses magnets.

Rail companies interested in maglev (from magnetic levitation) technology are also in discussions with Tokamak, he said.

Turnaround for that business for investors is expected to be three to five years, Ginsberg said.

Fusion-to-X

Tokamak is planning to develop its first commercial scale plant (COD after 2030) in the US.

Requirements for site selection are dependent on nearby capabilities; if deuterium and tritium are to be used as fuels, there needs to be a nearby facility that can handle those hydrogen-isotope fuels. For example, Oak Ride National Labs in Tennessee can handle tritium.

The other siting concern is use case.

“It could be, certainly, pumping electrons onto the grid, in which case your limited by transmission lines,” Ginsberg said. “But also, we could create industrial thermal energy, thermal heat, and co-locate with decarbonized heavy industry.”

Co-location with data centers is another option, he said. Tokamak is also exploring hydrogen production.

“Obviously you could do the traditional electrolysis process, and we’re talking to some companies that just need electrons to convert the H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, and they want baseload power to do that as opposed to intermittent power,” he said. “Also, there’s thermal energy and thermal processes to produce hydrogen that we could use from the fusion reaction.”

Ginsberg, who oversees US operations at Tokamak, was hired following the DOE award.

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