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NEOM Green Hydrogen reaches financial close

The consortium consisting of Air Products, ACWA Power, and NEOM has reached financial close on the Saudi Arabia green hydrogen facility for a total investment value of $8.4bn.

NEOM Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC) today announced that following signing financial documents with 23 local, regional, and international banks, and investment firms, it has now achieved financial close on the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility at a total investment value of $8.4bn.

The plant is currently being built at Oxagon, in Saudi Arabia’s region of NEOM. NGHC has also concluded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement with Air Products as the nominated contractor and system integrator for the entire facility.

Additionally, NGHC also announced that the non-recourse financing structured for the project has been certified by S&P Global (as the second party opinion provider) as adhering to green loan principles and is one of the largest project financings put in place under the green loan framework. Air Products has already awarded major contracts to various technology and construction partners.

As previously reported, to be funded by a combination of long-term debt and equity, the project JV, NEOM Green Hydrogen Project, will build 4 GW of renewables powering production of up to 600 tons per day of hydrogen.

The total financing consists of $5.852bn of senior debt and $475m of mezzanine debt facilities, both arranged on a non-recourse project finance basis, as follows:

– $1,500 million from National Development Fund (NDF) on behalf of National Infrastructure Fund (NIF), under foundation.

– $1,250 million is in the form of SAR denominated financing from Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF),

The balance is from a consortium of financiers, structured as a combination of long term uncovered tranches and a Euler Hermes covered tranche, comprising, in no particular order, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, BNP Paribas, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Natixis, Saudi British Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Saudi National Bank, KFW, Riyad Bank, Norinchukin Bank, Mizuho Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Alinma Bank, APICORP, JP Morgan, DZ Bank, Korea Development Bank and Credit Agricole.

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Ammonia-to-power tech company raises $139m series B-1

Led by SK Innovation, other investors include Temasek, Korea Zinc, Aramco Ventures, AP Ventures, MOL PLUS, Yanmar, Zeon Ventures and DCVC.

Amogy Inc., a developer of emission-free, energy-dense ammonia power solutions, has completed its $139m Series B-1 fundraising.

The round was led by SK Innovation, joined by other global investors including Temasek, Korea Zinc, Aramco Ventures, AP Ventures, MOL PLUS, Yanmar Ventures, Zeon Ventures and DCVC, according to a news release.

The funding will enable Amogy to continue its organizational development to support commercialization, begin manufacturing of its innovative ammonia-to-power technology, and bring its first product to market in 2024.

Amogy CEO & Co-founder Seonghoon Woo

“We are working from a place where we have no doubt  that our technology will change the world,” says Seonghoon Woo, CEO of Amogy. “In 2021, CO2 emissions from transportation in the United States totaled 1.7 BMT — the most from any sector of the economy. This funding will help us to see our mission of forging a path toward net-zero 2050 through and in turn, make the world more sustainable. We greatly appreciate the investors sharing our bold mission, and we are laser-focused to bring our technology to market.”

Amogy’s ammonia-to-power technology feeds liquid ammonia through its cracking modules integrated into a hybrid fuel cell system, which powers electric motors for zero-carbon transportations including shipping. Amogy plans to

present its ammonia-powered, zero-emission tugboat in late 2023 — which is three times larger than the system that was field-tested on Amogy’s ammonia-fueled semi truck earlier this year. Upon the successful sail of the tugboat later in 2023 in upstate New York, Amogy intends to present its first commercial offering in 2024 and more.

“Amogy’s technology represents a key breakthrough in the usage of ammonia as a fuel, and we believe that it will revolutionize not only the maritime industry, but the entire transportation industry,” says Jun Kim, Vice Chairman & CEO from SK Innovation. “We want to make sure Amogy has the resources it needs to make zero-emission shipping a reality.”

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BayoTech hires VP of development

The new hire, Jack Hedge, will be responsible for leading the development of hydrogen projects in North America.

New Mexico-based BayoTech Hydrogen has hired Jack Hedge as its new vice president of hydrogen hub development, according to a press release.

Hedge will be responsible for leading the development of hydrogen projects in North America. He will lead a team that is developing relationships with host property managers, community stakeholders, regulators, and local government officials who are interested in decarbonization.

“BayoTech is on the verge of making hydrogen production local and hub development is how we achieve it,” said BayoTech President & CEO, Mo Vargas. “Jack has years of experience in developing and executing major projects for some of the most recognized ports in the nation. That experience paired with his dedication to clean energy projects is exactly why we thought he was the right person to lead this phase of growth. We are delighted to have Jack’s leadership, passion for making the world better and experience both as a developer and as a project host to support customers decarbonization goals and drive projects to completion.”

“I am excited to begin this next chapter and blend all my previous experience into something truly meaningful and impactful. Working with the team at BayoTech we will lead the way to truly “smart, sustainable and equitable” supply chains,” Hedge said in the release.

Prior to joining BayoTech, Jack served as president of Utah Inland Port Authority, where he was responsible for developing and building one of the nation’s leading sustainable intermodal logistics hubs. Jack has also worked as the director of cargo and industrial real estate for the Port of Los Angeles where he lead the development, leasing, and asset management functions of the largest container port complex in North America.

BayoTech last year agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Carbon Clean under which the two parties will work togeterh on a demonstration facility to evaluate, design, and operate a carbon capture plant at a BayoTech site in North America which is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

Investors in BayoTech include Newlight Partners, Opal Fuels, Nutrien, The Yield Lab, Cottonwood Technology Fund, Sun Mountain Capital and Caterpillar Venture Capital Inc.

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CIB invests $337m in hydrogen production and refueling network in Western Canada

HTEC plans to build and operate an interprovincial network of up to 20 hydrogen refueling stations to support the deployment of fuel cell vehicles.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and HTEC, a Vancouver-based designer, builder, owner and operator of hydrogen supply solutions, are partnering to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen production and refueling infrastructure.

The CIB’s $337m loan will expedite and expand HTEC’s operations in British Columbia and Alberta. The investment will contribute to the implementation of HTEC’s full-service, sustainable fuel supply chain focused on reducing emissions in the transportation sector, called H2 Gateway, according to a news release.

HTEC plans to build and operate an interprovincial network of up to 20 hydrogen refueling stations to support the deployment of fuel cell vehicles and advance greener transportation solutions. The refueling stations will be supported by three new hydrogen production facilities located in BurnabyNanaimo and Prince George, and a facility that liquefies 15 tonnes per day of vented by-product hydrogen in North Vancouver. It is estimated that more than 280 full-time jobs will be created to build, operate and support the hydrogen infrastructure.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can travel long distances and have relatively short refuelling times, presenting a unique opportunity to decarbonize the commercial trucking sector. As part of this investment, 14 of the 20 new stations will enable the refuelling of up to 300 heavy duty vehicles per day.

Once fully operational, it is forecasted transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by approximately 133,000 tonnes annually.

H2 Gateway, an estimated $900m program is focused on building hydrogen transportation ecosystems.

The CIB’s financing will help accelerate the implementation of hydrogen technology and help mitigate uncertainty in the rate and pace of hydrogen adoption, which have historically been barriers to private investment in sustainable fuel production and infrastructure.

The partnership represents the third investment through the CIB’s Charging and Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure (CHRI) initiative, which is focused on expanding the private sector’s rollout of large-scale charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

The CIB’s investment builds on previous support HTEC has received from Canada to advance clean transportation, including $5 million from PacifiCan’s Business Scale-up and Productivity funding and $3 million from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Infrastructure Program for its 2-tonne-per-day low-carbon hydrogen production and liquid transfer facility in Burnaby, BC.

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Exclusive: Appalachian biogas firm seeking project debt

An RNG developer based in Appalachia with projects across the US is seeking project debt financing.

Northern Biogas, the West Virginia-based developer and operator of anaerobic digester and RNG facilities, is independently seeking debt for its project pipeline, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Backed by HIG Capital, Northern Biogas serves diary, landfill, food waste and municipal projects. The company has raised some $200m in debt with assistance from alternative energy finance provider Pathward National Association, one source said. Project debt has typically been raised in tranches of $20m to $30m for individual projects.

Northern Biogas’ portfolio includes five dairy farm projects under construction in Wisconsin and one in Michigan, according to the company’s website. The company has a presence in Texas and Colorado as well.

Representatives of the company did not respond to requests for comment.
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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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Turnt up about turndown ratios

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down. We asked electrolyzer makers: how low can you go?

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down.

A consensus is growing around the importance of turndown ratios for electrolyzers, with a variety of use cases for green hydrogen requiring the machines to be run at low levels during periods of high power pricing.

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers are known for their ability to quickly ramp production up and down, but manufacturers of all stripes have begun to tout their technologies’ turndown ratios, with implications for capital costs and the levelized cost of producing hydrogen from renewable power.

Simply put, some electrolyzer plant operators will likely seek to lower hydrogen production during periods of high power pricing, since the cost of electricity is the largest operating expense. But cycling the electrolyzers completely off and on can lead to added system degradation, giving importance to the ability of the machines to run at low levels.

A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyzes a US grid buildout through 2050, noting favorable locations and seasonality for power pricing as something of a guideline for green hydrogen development. The study notes that the lowest achievable turndown ratio is a main factor in minimizing hydrogen levelized cost along with the number of hours a system can operate at that minimum level – something that applies to all types of electrolyzers.

“When you start to look at hourly costs from the data in different locations, you see that all of this renewable buildout is going to create opportunities in given locations where you going to have a lot of renewable generation and not a lot of load on the system and that’s going to drive the cost for that energy down,” said Alex Badgett, an author of the study at NREL.

To be sure, the fast-moving technological environment for electrolysis leaves open the possibility for efficiency gains and disruptive innovation. And a variety of factors – balance of plant, energy efficiency, system degradation – also influence plant economics. But the lowest possible turndown ratios will drive opportunities for green hydrogen developers, Badgett said.

ReSource reviewed available spec sheets for electrolyzer providers and asked every maker of PEM and SOEC systems to detail the turndown capabilities of their machines. Alkaline electrolyzers were left out of the analysis given their more limited load flexibility, as their separators are less effective at preventing potentially dangerous cross-diffusion of gasses. Some manufacturers are fully transparent regarding turndown ranges while others declined to comment or did not reply to inquiries.

‘Not trivial’

In designing projects, developers are analyzing hourly energy supply schedules and pairing the outlook with what is known about available technology options.

“Some electrolyzers like to operate at half power, and others like to operate at full power, and in any given system, you can have between 10 and 50 electrolyzers wired and plumbed in parallel,” said Mike Grunow, who leads the Power-to-X platform at Strata Clean Energy.

“Our thought process even goes down to: let’s say you have to operate the H2 plant at 25% throughput. Do you operate all of the electrolyzers at 25%, or do you turn 75% of the electrolyzers off and only operate 25% at full power?”

The difference in the schemes, he added, is “not trivial as each technology has different efficiency curves and drivers of degradation.”

Different use cases for the hydrogen derivative, meanwhile, lead to different natural selection of technologies, Grunow said, adding that the innovation cycle is now happening every 12 months, requiring a close eye on advances in technology. 

Electrolyzer start-up Electric Hydrogen, a maker of PEM electrolyzers, is commercializing a 100 MW system that can turn down to 10%, according to Jason Mortimer, SVP of global sales at the company.

HyAxium, another start-up, can turn its system down to 10%, according to its materials. Norway-based Hystar, which recently announced plans to build a plant in the US, also promotes a 10% turndown ratio.

A more established PEM electrolyzer provider, Cummins, advertises turndown ratios of 5% for its machines. Sungrow Power, a China-based manufacturer, similarly advertises 5% for PEM electrolyzers.

Siemens Energy has a minimum turndown ratio per stack of 40%, but for a single system it can be less in exceptional cases, according to Claudia Nehring, a company spokesperson.

“We focus on large systems” – greater than 100 MW – “and currently consider this value to be appropriate, taking into account the optimization between efficiency, degradation and dynamics, but are working on an improvement,” she said via email.

ITM Power declined to provide details but said its turndown capabilities are “to be expected” for a market leader in this technology. Materials from German-based H-Tec Systems note a modulation rate down to 10%.

Additional PEM makers Nel, Ohmium, Elogen, H2B2, Hoeller Electrolyzer, Plug Power, Shanghai Electric, and Teledyne Energy Systems did not respond to requests for information.

PEM alternatives

Other forms of electrolysis can also ramp dynamically. And some project developers point to PEM’s use of iridium, part of the platinum metals family, as a drawback due to potential scarcity issues.

Verdagy, for example, has developed an advanced alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) system called eDynamic that it says takes the best of PEM and alkaline technologies while designing out the downsides.

The company’s technology “addresses the barriers that limited traditional AWE adoption by using single-element cells that can operate efficiently at high current densities,” executives said in response to emailed questions. 

“The ability to operate at very high current densities, coupled with a balance of stack and balance of plant optimized for dynamic operation, allow Verdagy’s electrolyzers to operate across a very broad range spanning 0.1-2.0 A/cm2,” they said.

In other words, the machine can turn down to 5%, part of the design that enables operators “to modulate production to take advantage of time-of-day pricing and/or fluctuations in energy production.”

Meanwhile, German-based Thysenkrupp Nucera, another maker of advanced water electrolyzers, advertises a 10% turndown ratio.

SOEC

A relatively new electrolysis technology, the solid oxide electrolyzer cell has also proven to be capable of low turndown ratios. Solid oxide electrolysis is particularly attractive when paired with high-temperature industrial processes, where heat can be captured and fed back into the high-temperature SOEC process, making it more efficient.

Joel Moser, the CEO of First Ammonia, said he chose SOEC from Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe in part because the machines can be turned completely off with no degradation, as long as you keep them warm.

“Generally speaking we expect to ramp up and ramp down between 100% and 10%,” he said. “We can turn them off as long as we keep them warm, and then we can turn them right back on.”

Still, SOEC systems are not without challenges.

“Low stack power and high operating temperature, which in turn requires more ancillary equipment to operate the electrolyzer, are widely viewed as the main drawbacks of SOEC technology,” according to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, which explores SOEC technology and its commercial prospects. “SOEC systems are also considered to have a shorter operating life due to thermal stress.”

Additional makers of SOEC machines Bloom Energy, Ceres, Elcogen, Genvia, SolydERA, and Toshiba did not respond to inquiries.

At NREL, researchers are watching for more automation and scale in the electrolyzer production process to bring costs down. Increasing efficiency through balance-of-plant improvements is another opportunity to reduce system costs.

In addition, more analysis of how large electrolyzer projects will impact the future electrical grid is required, according to Badgett.

The NREL team modeled the hourly marginal cost at any given time in any location in the US, but the model assumes that the electrolyzer takes energy without impacting the cost of energy.

“When we start to get to gigawatt-scale electrolysis,” he said, “that’s going to significantly impact prices, as well as how the grid is going to build out.”

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