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Most active green hydrogen developers in North America

The global green hydrogen market is growing at a vertiginous speed, with some estimates projecting it will reach $515.6bn in revenue by the end of 2035, up from $1.7bn in 2022.

In North America, twelve investors and developers, including Plug Power, Monarch Energy, and Pattern Energy, hold leading positions in green hydrogen project activity.

The data is based on the number of projects the companies are moving forward, as of January 2024.

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Gulf Coast ammonia plant trades at 9.3x

Australia-based Incitec Pivot Limited sold the Louisiana plant to CF Industries for an EV-to-EBITDA multiple of 9.3x.

Global hydrogen and nitrogen manufacturer CF Industries purchased the Waggaman ammonia production complex in Louisiana at an EV multiple of 9.3x, executives from the seller, Incitec Pivot, said on a call today.

The multiple is over the through-the-cycle EBITDA generated at the plant, and compares to a five-year EV-to-EBITDA multiple for IPL of 7.3x, the company’s CFO, Paul Victor, said. The facility has a nameplate capacity of 880,000 tons of ammonia annually.

IPL considered several proposals in a competitive sale process, and was similarly focused on securing a long-term supply agreement from the plant for its Dyno Nobel subsidiary, which manufactures commercial explosives.

JP Morgan served as sellside financial advisor while Latham & Watkins was legal counsel. Goldman Sachs is serving as the financial advisor to CF Industries on the transaction. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to the buyer.

Under the terms of the agreement, CF Industries will purchase the Waggaman ammonia plant and related assets for $1.675bn. The companies will allocate approximately $425m of the purchase price to a long-term ammonia offtake agreement under which CF Industries will supply up to 200,000 tons of ammonia per year to Dyno Nobel.

CF Industries expects to fund the remaining $1.25bn of the purchase price with cash on hand.

The buyer also anticipates implementing CCS at the site on an accelerated timeline, according to the deal announcement. Incitec executives declined to say on today’s call whether there would be pricing adjustments in the offtake contract once the low-carbon blue ammonia comes online.

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Hydrogen and CCUS factor heavily in U.S. DOE heavy-industry decarbonization selections

The projects are expected to reduce the equivalent of more than 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Hydrogen and CCUS factor heavily into the projects that have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of a $6 billion funding program for 33 projects across more than 20 states to decarbonize energy-intensive industries and reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

The full list of winners selected for grant negotiations is here. Below are some of the highlights:

Steelmaker SSAB has been selected to negotiate for a grant of up to $500m for the Hydrogen-Fueled Zero Emissions Steel Making project, which would bring green hydrogen-based steel production to the United States to build the first commercial-scale facility in the world using fossil-free Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) technology with 100% hydrogen in Perry County, Mississippi. The project also plans to expand SSAB’s Montpelier, Iowa steelmaking facility to utilize the resulting hydrogen-reduced DRI. SSAB has signed a letter of intent for Hy Stor Energy to supply green hydrogen and renewable electricity to the DRI facility. 

Cleveland-Cliffs has been selected to receive up to $500m for the Hydrogen-Ready Direct Reduced Iron Plant and Electric Melting Furnace Installation project for iron and steel, including plans to install a hydrogen-ready flex-fuel Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) plant and two electric melting furnaces at Cleveland-Cliffs’ Middletown Works mill in Ohio. 

Orsted would receive up to $100m for its Star e-Methanol project, which plans to use captured carbon dioxide from a local industrial facility to produce e-methanol to reduce the carbon footprint for hard-to-electrify sectors like shipping. Orsted’s facility is estimated to produce up to 300,000 metric tons of e-methanol per year and would reduce the carbon footprint by 80% or more than traditional production methods. 

Constellium has been selected to receive up to $75m for a zero carbon aluminum casting plant at its Ravenswood, West Virginia facility. The project would install low-emissions SmartMelt furnaces that can operate using a range of fuels, including clean hydrogen.

The National Cement Company of California would receive up to $500m for a carbon-neutral cement plant in Lebec, California. Instead of using fossil fuels, the project would use locally sourced biomass from agricultural byproducts such as pistachio shells, replace clinker with a less carbon intensive alternative (calcined clay) to produce limestone calcined clay cement (LC3), and capture and sequester the plant’s remaining approximately 950,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Heidelberg Materials would receive up to $500m for an integrated carbon capture, transport, and storage system at their newly modernized plant located in Mitchell, Indiana. This project would capture at least 95% of the carbon dioxide from one of the largest cement plants in the nation and store it in a geologic formation beneath the plant property.

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Exclusive: Micro ammonia tech firm raising pre-IPO Series A

A micro ammonia technology firm is raising a small amount of Series A capital and plans to pursue an IPO as soon as next year.

Hydrofuel Canada, a developer of micro ammonia technology, is seeking strategic partners for a CAD 5m Series A capital raise in anticipation of an initial public offering as early as next year.

The Mississauga, Ontario-based firm recently received U.S. patents for its micro ammonia production system (MAPS), which represents a breakthrough in smaller scale on-site, low-cost ammonia production possibilities, CEO Greg Vezina said in an interview.

“Our cost to make hydrogen at end use all-in including capex, opex, and 8% financing is $1.30 per kg” before tax credits, Vezina said. “We’re pretty confident that over the next couple of months, we’re going to put together a group of investors, strategic partners, and quite frankly, a board of directors that’s going to choke a horse.”

The $1.30 per kg price for hydrogen – in ammonia – depends on an electricity price of 2 cents per kWh, Vezina said, and correlates to a price of around $456 / ton of ammonia. Cracking the ammonia at end use takes between 10% – 15% of the hydrogen, resulting in a final price of hydrogen of around $1.50 per kg.

For comparison, with electricity at 3 cents per kWh, the price of hydrogen in ammonia climbs to $1.57 per kg.

Hydrofuel is looking for five strategic partners that will each put in CAD 1m, which would advance its micro ammonia offering to commercialization. It already has orders in the book and expects to have $1bn of orders by the time it goes public via a planned initial public offering next year, Vezina said.

“We’ll go public in 2025, essentially to raise the money to deliver our products,” he said.

The company is also looking to partner with renewables developers with planned wind energy resources near ammonia demand centers in the U.S., so that the resulting ammonia production can qualify for 45V tax credits for clean hydrogen.

Vezina has been a proponent of ammonia solutions for decades, and reportedly drove an ammonia-fueled Chevy Impala across Canada in 1981. He believes that the MAPS technology will be a disruptive force in the emerging market for green hydrogen and ammonia. While Hydrofuel claims to produce ammonia on site at $1.50 per kg, the cost to transport ammonia alone — other than via a long-distance pipeline — is not currently less than $3 per kg, Vezina said, citing a recent study from the World Bank.

“I’m going to bankrupt everybody in the electrolyzer business worldwide,” he said, adding his view that the economics of large-scale electrolyzer projects make them unviable where they rely on expensive transportation networks.

MAPS

To date, Hydrofuel has raised CAD 5m, with management and employees still owning 40% of the business. In the current capital raise, Hydrofuel is selling 25% of the company, amounting to a $20m valuation, Vezina said.

The U.S. patent was issued for Hydrofuel’s MAPS 1.0 product, which utilizes externally produced hydrogen to synthesize with nitrogen from air to make ammonia. Vezina says the patent also covers the MAPS 2.0 product, which combines hydrogen and ammonia production in the same unit, but Hydrofuel has filed for an additional patent for MAPS 2.0.

Hydrofuel signed a licensing agreement for the MAPS technology with Georgia Tech University in April 2022, and later began collaborating on research and development with Colorado State University.

Farmers are a main target market for the technology, Vezina said, noting that farms can cut their anhydrous ammonia bill significantly. Industrial users of ammonia, including medical-grade ammonia, are also targeted customers.

The cost of the MAPS 2.0 unit, which has a capacity of 381 tonnes per year, is USD 850,000, and customers can secure a unit by making a $10,000 deposit with financing for 20 years, Vezina said. The company earns a profit of USD 425,000 for every MAPS 2.0 unit sold.

Vezinz said that accounting for US tax credits for clean hydrogen production as well as renewables could cover almost the entire cost of the micro ammonia installations and renewables, given the cost of $1.50 per kg and the $3 per kg tax credit.

“So a lot of smart farmers could be getting a lot of free fertilizer,” he said.

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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

Air Products CEO discusses mega-scale green hydrogen project with AES

Air Products CEO Seifi Ghasemi further discussed its JV with AES Corporation to develop a $4bn green hydrogen project in Texas, noting that roughly half the price tag would come from developing 1.4 GW of renewables to feed the electrolyzers.

Air Products and AES Corporation will form a JV to develop a $4bn integrated green hydrogen facility in Texas, with roughly half of the cost coming from development of 900 MW of wind and 500 MW of solar generation, and the other half for the hydrogen build-out, Air Products CEO Seifi Ghasemi said on an investor call today.

Similar to his company’s JV in Saudi Arabia, the 50/50 JV will develop, build, own and operate a facility in Wilbarger County, at the site of a decommissioned coal-fired plant, Ghasemi said on the call.

Air Products has an exclusive global agreement with thyssenkrupp for electrolyzers, and could include battery storage at the Texas site to help power the electrolyzers, he added.

A separate entity owned 100% by Air Products will be the sole offtaker from the facility, Ghasemi said, which will produce more than 100 mtpd for use in transportation and industrial markets.

The relationship between AES and Air Products is not exclusive, he said.

Air Products expects a minimum internal rate of return of 10%, Ghasemi said. The company is hoping the tax benefits of the project will result in a lower hydrogen price from the JV.

The amount of capital invested by Air Products will be determined by downstream uses, Ghasemi said. The company has yet to decide if it will build a liquefaction plant, transport gaseous hydrogen by pipeline, or convert the hydrogen to ammonia and ship it by rail.

When it was noted that there is not an existing pipeline connecting Wilbarger County to Air Product’s Gulf Coast pipeline, Ghasemi said he was being pressured to get more deeply in the topic than he wanted, but that the company was confident emerging industry in the area would provide the necessary offtake.

“We don’t have to send it all the way down 250 miles to our existing pipeline,” Ghasemi said. “There’s a lot of different options.”

Air Products will not issue new stock to dilute shareholders or jeopardize its A-rating, Ghasemi said.

The labor cost is “very low on these projects,” Ghasemi said. And customers are attracted to getting 30-year contracts not associated with the price of oil, natural gas or geopolitics.

Air Products is investing approximately $500m for a 35 metric ton per day facility to produce green liquid hydrogen at a greenfield site in Massena, New York, as well as liquid hydrogen distribution and dispensing operations.

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exclusive

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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