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Mote receives $1.2m for second biomass-to-H2 plant

Construction on a project in Bakersfield, California is expected to begin in 2025 and target full operational capacity by 2027.

Mote Inc. has received $1.2m in grant funding to establish its second biomass to hydrogen and carbon sequestration plant in partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, according to a news release.

As Mote’s hydrogen offtake partner for the second facility in Sacramento, SMUD and Mote have been collaborating on the project development. Upon completion, the facility would produce approximately 21,000 metric tons per year (MTPY) of carbon-negative hydrogen for use in thermal power generation and transportation.

The money comes from the US Forest Service, the California Department of Conservation, and the California Department of Forestry.

“Similar to its first project near Bakersfield, this second plant will integrate with carbon capture and geological sequestration methods to produce carbon-negative hydrogen,” the release states. “Mote can process woody waste from farms, forestry, and urban sources. The remaining carbon dioxide from the process is captured and permanently placed underground in saline aquifers for ecologically safe storage.”

Mote has received a formal invitation to submit a Part II application to the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office Title 17 Clean Energy Financing program, which can offer loan guarantees up to 80 percent of eligible project costs.

Bakersfield construction is expected to begin in 2025 and target full operational capacity by 2027.

Mote is a member of the ARCHES community and their application for the DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub grant.

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EPCC contract awarded for Australia green hydrogen plant

A consortium consisting Technip Energies and Monford Group has been awarded an EPCC contract to develop Project Yuri.

A consortium consisting Technip Energies and Monford Group has been awarded an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning (EPCC) contract by Yuri Operations Pty Ltd, to develop Project Yuri Phase 0 – a green hydrogen plant in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Project Yuri, developed in partnership with Yara Clean Ammonia and ENGIE, includes a 10 MW electrolysis plant and an 18 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm with its 8 MW Battery Energy System (BESS) providing the necessary energy for the electrolysis. It will produce up to 640 tonnes of green hydrogen per annum for use in the existing Yara Pilbara Ammonia Plant to produce green ammonia.

Technip Energies is responsible for the overall project management and the electrolysis plant engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up, according to a news release. Monford Group is responsible for the overall project construction and the PV farm engineering, procurement, commissioning and start up.

The project has received grant funding from the Federal Government via ARENA, as part of the Advancing Renewables Program and from Western Australia State Government as a part of Western Australian Renewable Hydrogen Fund.

Mitsui & Co. Ltd. has agreed to acquire a 28% stake in Yuri Operations Pty Ltd subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions under its investment agreement.

The Yuri project plan has a multi-phase (Phase 0-I-II-III) roadmap, which aims to establish a new industry value chain, harvesting the abundant renewable power in Western Australia, to make renewable hydrogen and ammonia as feedstock for renewable chemical production, as well as renewable fuel for power generation and shipping, serving local and export markets (Asia and beyond).

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Carbon removal firm raises $100m

Carbon removal firm Charm Industrial has raised $100m in a Series B capital raise.

Charm Industrial has raised $100m in Series B funding in a raise led by General Catalyst.

General Catalyst’s CEO and Managing Director Hemant Taneja will join the company’s board alongside Ryan Panchadsaram from John Doerr’s office.

Lowercarbon, Exor Ventures, Kinnevik, Thrive Capital and Elad Gil also invested as part of the round, according to a blog post.

The company will use the new funding to accelerate its carbon removal deliveries. After deploying increasingly advanced pilot processes in 2021 and 2022, the company began ramping up in 2023. Its primary focus is expanding bio-oil production and transport capacity, and since the beginning of the year it has increased tons of carbon removal delivered per week 5x.

Continued acceleration requires ramping up our operations in Colorado and the broader corn belt, and expanding our lone pyrolyzer into a continent-wide fleet of tens of thousands of pyrolyzers. The future of carbon removal will be a massive investment in the heartland of America. Each Charm pyrolyzer will produce bio-oil for sequestration and improve the soil with biochar.

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Exclusive: Modular green ammonia firm eyeing capital raise

A green ammonia firm with distributed modular technology is beginning discussions with advisors for future capital raises. It has $1bn of indicated interest in its global sales pipeline.

Talus Renewables is seeking to scale the deployment of its modular green ammonia offering with an additional capital raise.

The start-up is beginning discussions with potential bankers that could advise on a Series B capital raise, as its pipeline grows for distributed ammonia production systems that it can deliver globally, Co-Founder and CEO Hiro Iwanaga said in an interview.

Image: Talus Renewables

Talus offers containerized systems that produce green ammonia from power, water, and air, in the form of the TalusOne (up to 1.4 tonnes of green ammonia daily) and talusTen (up to 20 tonnes per day).

The company delivered its first system to Kenya Nut Company, a multinational agricultural firm in east Africa, under a 15-year fixed-price ammonia offtake agreement, Iwanaga said. The company has a pipeline of approximately $1bn of indicated interest for ammonia from potential customers, which include large farms and mining companies in several global jurisdictions, including the US.

He declined to comment specifically on how much the company would seek to raise in its next fundraising round, but said, “We have the demand for a $1bn worth of systems.” He added that, though the technology is largely proven, there is a perception of “young company risk” that the firm will need to overcome by delivering and operating its first systems.

Iwanaga, who views the company as a yieldco, required to raise several hundred million dollars every year to deploy its assets, is starting discussions with banks about advisory work for future capital raises.

“I think about our company as an infrastructure company,” he said. “We sign 10- to 15-year-long, fixed-price committed offtake agreements, and these projects earn 10% – 25% unlevered returns.”

A recently completed $22m Series A fundraising will fund the delivery of the next three to four systems before the end of the year, Iwanaga said, stretching Talus’ footprint to Europe and the US, with one more system heading to South America.

The company is deploying to large farms and mining companies, where ammonia is used as a blasting agent. In the US, the company has partnered with agribusiness Wilbur-Ellis and farmer-owned cooperative Landus, Iwanaga said.

Scaling quickly

While many green ammonia projects are popping up around the world, Iwanaga emphasizes that Talus will be able to deliver tons in the next 1 – 2 years, compared to the multi-year project timelines for larger projects requiring more complex supply chains.

“What we’re focused on is improving cost, reliability, and sustainability by driving local production – on-site or near-site production,” Iwanaga said.

Talus has several LOIs for offtake and is working to reach final agreements – work that takes several months at a good site and includes leasing land, permitting, and connecting to power.

The Talus systems are manufactured currently in China, Vietnam, and the US, but the company is moving the majority of its operations out of China and into Vietnam, while some of the Vietnam operations are moving to the US.

The company has partnered with a global auto OEM to lead its manufacturing, which has allowed it to scale quickly.

“Manufacturing a complex, high-temperature, high-pressure gas handling system is very difficult,” he said. “That [OEM] partnership has allowed us to scale in a way that I don’t think very many others have,” he said.

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Biomass technology company launching US projects

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing technology to convert woody biomass into clean fuels.

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing new technology to process woody biomass into an intermediate product that can be further refined into clean fuels.

The company, traditionally a miner focused on gold and silver mining in Nevada, has been transformed into a technology innovator seeking to build, own, and operate a portfolio of carbon neutral extraction and refining facilities in the US, CEO Corrado De Gasperis said in an interview.

“We’re finalizing all of our documentation on readiness and engineering, and then we’ll be working to select an EPC, and then we’ll be ready to bond and finance,” he said.

Comstock, which trades on the NYSE, is currently engaged in the process of securing access to feedstock, and has mapped out nine regions in the U.S. which, combined, produce between 85 – 100 million tons of woody biomass residuals per year.

In parallel, the company is seeking to incentivize growth of trees like hybrid poplar that can be used as feedstock in the future, De Gasperis said. “We’re going to be building the backend of the supply chain with a feedstock strategy, accessing existing residuals, and then building these facilities,” he added.

In Minnesota, for example, there are around 300 sawmills with no place to send their sawdust and excess woodchips following the closure of several wood-to-energy plants, said David Winsness, a president at Comstock.

“Those are the materials that shouldn’t be sitting there – we should be converting them into fuel,” Winsness said.

Building plants

The company has set an objective to generate “billions” in revenue by 2030 – something it would achieve largely through building and operating the woody biomass plants near where the feedstock is located. Comstock also sells related services and licenses selected technologies to strategic partners.

Using simple math, Comstock could achieve its revenue goal by building and operating 10 facilities that produce approximately 1 million tons of clean fuels per year.

A plant producing 1 million tons per year would require capex of between $600m – $750m to build, and would likely be constructed using a project finance funding model, De Gasperis said. The company has not yet selected a financial advisor.

De Gasperis believes large refiners will want to co-build the facilities along with Comstock – which could also entail a strategic equity investment from the selected refiner and lead to a faster construction process.

“Speed and throughput is the goal,” he said, noting that the company has been engaged with roughly 12 of the large clean fuels refiners on a potential partnership. “The faster we’re producing these carbon-neutral gallons, the faster we’re decarbonizing, and the faster we’re making money.”

The company has private equity funds and infrastructure funds on their radar as potential investors but has not engaged with them yet.

The other half

Comstock’s technological breakthrough comes in its ability to produce a biointermediary – called bioleum – from a part of the woody biomass that is not cellulose, and which can be used to produce drop-in fuels. (Importantly, under new EPA rules implemented in June 2022, biointermediaries such as bioleum can be sold on to refiners, whereas previous rules required co-location with the refineries.)

“Cellulose only counts for 50% of a tree,” said Winsness. “For every gallon of fuel generated from cellulose, we’re getting another gallon from the byproduct. It’s a huge change for the industry to be able to get that much more throughput from the same amount of biomass.”

The Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity for projects that can produce more than 60 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood feedstock, De Gasperis said.

“We saw that and we said, ‘We’re already there. We can do much more,’” he added.

Comstock can currently produce about 70 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood, using cellulose. Meanwhile, with the non-cellulose half of the wood in 1 ton of feedstock, the technology can produce an additional 30 – 40 gallons of renewable diesel or aviation fuel.

The company has partnered on a process to convert ethanol to drop-in fuel, with the ultimate goal of producing 100 gallons of drop-in fuels from 1 ton of wood feedstock, according to De Gasperis. “All of our development is to stabilize the breakthrough we had on the bioleum – the heavy cellulose components of the wood is where our technology breaks through and shatters this.”

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Low-carbon crude refinery developer lining up project cap stack

The developer of a low-carbon crude refinery is in talks with banks and strategics to line up project financing for a $5.5bn project in Oklahoma.

Texas-based Southern Rock Energy Partners is holding discussions with banks and potential strategic investors with the aim of shaping a $5.5bn capital stack to build a low-carbon crude refinery in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project, a first-of-its-kind 250,000 barrel-per-day crude refinery, would make it the first crude facility of that size built in the United States in several decades.

The company is evaluating a project finance route with a debt and equity structure for the project, and has held talks with several major investment banks as well as “industry-leading” strategics in midstream, industrial gas, and electricity generation, Southern Rock Managing Partner Steven Ward said in an interview.

In support of the refinery, the city of Cushing and the Cushing Economic Development Foundation approved $75m in tax-exempt private activity bonds, Ward noted. He added that the company could also tap industrial revenue bonds as well as PACE equity financing.

Seed capital for project development has so far come from strategic partners, some of which are operational partners, Ward said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise, noting that engagement letters have yet to be signed.

Engineering firm KBR is conducting a feasibility study for the Cushing project, and the company is moving through land acquisition, air permit preparation, and EPC selection, Ward said.

While most crude refineries consume natural gas, off-gasses, and ambient air, Southern Rock’s proposed refinery would use oxygen along with blue hydrogen produced from the refining off-gasses and green hydrogen from electrolysis. The process would eliminate 95% of greenhouse gas emissions at the proposed refinery.

“Our furnaces and our process heating units are fed 100% hydrogen and oxygen,” Ward said, noting that this type of system does not currently exist in the market. The company is expanding on technology it licenses from Great Southern Flameless, he said.

The size of the refinery would make it the largest to be built in the US since Marathon Petroleum built a 200,000 barrels-per-day facility in 1976.

Certain other low-carbon crude projects have been in the market for several years. Meridian Energy has been seeking to build cleaner crude refineries in North Dakota. Raven Petroleum ran up against environmental concerns while seeking to build a clean refinery in Texas. And MMEX is aiming to build an “ultra clean” crude refinery in West Texas.

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Renewables developer exploring move into green hydrogen

North Carolina-based Strata Clean Energy is engaged with engineers and consultants in preparations for a potential move into the production of green hydrogen.

Strata Clean Energy, the North Carolina-based utility-scale renewables developer, is researching locations in the U.S. where it could potentially build a green hydrogen production plant, executives said in an interview.

“We’ve been doing some hydrogen work for the past few years,” said Tiago Sabino Dias, former CEO of Crossover Energy, which was acquired by Strata in a deal announced this week. That forward momentum on green hydrogen and other areas of the energy transition was part of the reason the deal with Strata was made, he said.

Sabino Dias is now the senior vice president of origination at Strata following the takeover.

“We’ve done a lot of work thinking about where the high-value locations are,” Strata’s Chief Development Officer Josh Rogol said in a separate interview.

Hydrogen is adjacent to Strata’s core competencies in energy storage, Rogol said. The company is confident it could supply the green kilowatt hours for hydrogen production and is researching offtake scenarios in transportation and industrial uses.

Strata has a 13 GW project pipeline of standalone and combined solar and storage, according to its website, with 4 GW under management.

The company’s IPP has about 1 GW with ambitions to grow, Rogol said. It’s go-forward pipeline comprises more than 100 projects across 26 states.

Strata is now engaged with several consultants and engineers to explore green hydrogen opportunities, Rogol said. The company is open to new advisory relationships across verticals.

“We think we are really well positioned to be both the energy supplier, as well as the molecule producer,” Rogol said. The capabilities and intellectual property acquired through Crossover put the firm six to 18 months ahead of other nascent developers.

Early-stage development in green hydrogen can be funded with Strata’s balance sheet, similar to Strata’s bilateral takeover of Crossover, Rogol said. Later stage development and EPC will require “an ecosystem of partners” potentially both financial and strategic, he added.

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