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New Fortress Energy executives detail hydrogen project progress

New Fortress Energy executives detailed the amount of EBITDA they expect to generate -- once fully operational -- from three US green hydrogen projects under development.

Executives from New Fortress Energy believe the company will generate $150m of EBITDA from three green hydrogen projects when fully operational.

NFE’s ZeroPark I facility in Beaumont, Texas is the most advanced, having broken ground on construction after securing offtake for green hydrogen from OCI Global and contracting with Electric Hydrogen to install electrolyzers at the site.

The original design for the facility called for 100 MW of capacity or up to 50 tons per day of hydrogen production. The company is now increasing the scope of the facility to 200 MW or 100 tons per day, and expects to have the ability to turn on the facility next year with full operations entering 2025, NFE Managing Director Ken Nicholson said on an earnings call.

The company is pursuing two additional green hydrogen project developments, one in the Pacific Northwest and one in the Northeast that will start construction in the next six months.

“We have a fourth facility also on the Gulf Coast that we think is very interesting and we’re in advanced negotiations to secure that site,” Nicholson said.

The business segment, known as ZeroParks, will provide green hydrogen and hydrogen logistics terminals to customers in the energy, industrial and transportation sectors, he said. The terminals are focused on regional North American demand but are also on waterfront, allowing for expansion into exports to international markets.

“If all we do is build three parks in the Pacific Northwest, Northeast and down in Beaumont, this is a business that will generate $150m of EBITDA annually,” he said.

Meanwhile, the cost to build the facilities comes largely from debt financing with a borrowing rate under 5%, Nicholson said.

The company has said previously — and continues to stress in investor materials — that it will soon spin out ZeroParks into a pure-play green hydrogen business.

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M2X partners on gas-to-methanol-to-hydrogen pathway

M2X and Element 1 are pursuing a joint research and development program on the use of M2X’s low-carbon methanol as a feedstock for point-of-use hydrogen production.

M2X Energy, a startup company with a proprietary process technology that converts stranded gas into low-carbon methanol, and Element 1 Corp, a global leader in advanced hydrogen generation systems for the fuel cell industry, are conducting a joint research and development program to explore the use of M2X low-carbon methanol as a feedstock for point-of-use hydrogen production.

Element 1 is demonstrating the viability of low-carbon methanol produced by M2X’s gas-to-methanol unit as a feedstock for its hydrogen generation unit, and subsequent conversion to electricity, according to a news release.

The process technologies developed by the two companies can unlock the potential for clean energy production in demanding locations, where power grids are overloaded, and operating conditions require adaptability and grid independence. After confirming that M2X’s low-carbon methanol is a suitable feedstock for Element 1’s methanol-to-hydrogen systems, methane-rich stranded gases that today are often flared or vented, may instead be harnessed for downstream stationary power applications, hydrogen refueling stations, and on-board generation for hydrogen-fueled road vehicles, trains, and maritime vessels.

Early testing of methanol produced by M2X Energy shows promising results for unlocking hydrogen as a cost-competitive and low-carbon chemical sourced from stranded gases. “M2X is excited about this collaboration with Element 1. Serving as a supplier of low-carbon methanol for Element 1’s process equipment demonstrates our product market fit and the value of M2X low-carbon methanol as an attractive, low-cost hydrogen carrier, especially during the energy transition,” commented Paul Yelvington, Chief Science Officer at M2X.

With details emerging on the implementation of production credits for hydrogen and clean fuels in the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act (e.g., 45V and 45Z), M2X Energy and Element 1 are well-positioned to provide an integrated pathway to cost-competitive, low-carbon hydrogen with greatly simplified logistics for production, transportation, and storage.

Dave Edlund, co-founder and CEO of Element 1 Corp, said, “Low-carbon methanol, such as that produced by the M2X process, offers the most economical and practical pathway to widespread adoption of grid-independent electricity production while maintaining a low-carbon footprint. We are pleased to be partnering with M2X Energy on this important demonstration.”

This cross-industry collaboration aligns with the strategic priorities announced at COP28 for reducing methane emissions and expanding the role of hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier. It lays the groundwork for future commercial partnerships for the supply of M2X Energy’s low-carbon methanol in deployed hydrogen generation equipment using the Element 1 technology.

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Aemetis approved for $200m USCIS financing

The financing will be made available through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 program.

Aemetis, Inc., a renewable natural gas and renewable fuels company focused on low and negative carbon intensity products, today announced approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of $200 million of EB-5 program investment for the Riverbank sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant, the dairy renewable natural gas (RNG) project, the carbon sequestration project, and energy efficiency upgrades to the Keyes ethanol plant.

The Riverbank plant was recently granted Authority to Construct (ATC) air permits and is designed to produce 78 million gallons per year of SAF for the aviation market. Aemetis has already secured more than $3 billion of contracts to supply airlines with SAF.

“This $200 million of funding provides attractive terms at a low interest rate to fund our projects, including the dairy renewable natural gas project and the sustainable aviation fuel plant to meet rapidly increasing global demand for SAF from airlines,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “This EB-5 funding, the 20-year USDA guaranteed loans, and other financings support the continued growth of the company as set forth in the Aemetis Five Year Plan,” McAfee added.

According to the determinations made by the USCIS, the Regional Center presented evidence asserting that 245 qualified investors will invest $200 million in EB-5 capital into Advanced Bioenergy II, the new commercial enterprise (NCE). The NCE will invest in Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes, the job creating entity (JCE).

The JCE intends to expand the existing 65 million gallon per year Aemetis ethanol plant in Keyes, California by the engineering, permitting, construction and operation of: 1) upgrades to the ethanol plant for improved energy efficiency and increased production, including the installation of solar panels,mechanical vapor recompression, and the use of sugars from waste forest and orchard wood to replace corn sugars for biofuels production; 2) the dairy Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) system that includes dairy digesters, a gas pipeline, a central facility to convert biogas to renewable natural gas, RNG fueling stations, and an interconnection facility to the utility gas pipeline; 3) a biofuels production facility that uses the distillers oil product of the ethanol plant and other renewable oils to produce SAF and RD; and 4) a well that sequesters carbon in the form of CO2 emitted by the production processes and other CO2 emissions collected in the area.

The Project’s two primary locations are the Aemetis Advanced Fuels Keyes 65 million gallon per year ethanol plant and the Riverbank Industrial Complex.  The USCIS found that the Aemetis projects are both located within high unemployment areas.

Eight investors have already invested $500,000 per investor (a total of $4.0 million) and 245 additional future investors have now been approved at $800,000 per investor (for an additional $196.0 million) for a total of $200 million under the EB-5 program.

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Electric Hydrogen to build electrolyzer gigafactory in Massachusetts

The VC-backed company plans to build a 1.2 GW factory, where it will produce its “world’s most powerful” 100 MW electrolyzer offering.

Electric Hydrogen Co., a manufacturer of advanced, industrial-scale hydrogen electrolyzer technology, announced the location of its first factory in Devens, Massachusetts.

The company has leased a newly constructed 187,000 ft2 facility and is now hiring production team members. The Devens factory will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 1.2 GW with production of EH2’s 100 MW green hydrogen electrolyzers commencing in Q1 2024.

“Our company has a single purpose: to make molecules to decarbonize our world,” stated David Eaglesham, EH2’s CTO and co-founder. “Industrial sectors such as fertilizer and steel need new ways to reliably replace fossil resources at costs that work. The machines we will produce at our new factory in Devens will have a transformational impact by enabling ultra-low-cost green hydrogen at an industrial scale.”

Green hydrogen, made by breaking the chemical bonds of water using renewable electricity, is a growth industry that can make an immediate impact on the global climate crisis. Electric Hydrogen expects its technology to establish the standard for industry-wide cost reduction to make green hydrogen cheaper than fossil alternatives.

“There are a lot of factory announcements in our industry, but not a lot of real capacity being built,” said Raffi Garabedian, EH2’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder. “We have a backlog of customer orders to fulfill and are moving quickly to build and ship the world’s most powerful electrolyzers.”

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Pennsylvania blue hydrogen DevCo planning project equity raise

A natural gas company has tapped an advisor and is planning to launch a process to raise project equity in the fall for a blue hydrogen production facility with contracted offtake in Pennsylvania.

KeyState Energy, a Pennsylvania-based development company, has engaged a financial advisor to launch a $60m equity process in September, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Young America Capital is advising on the forthcoming process, the sources said.

The capital raise is for the company’s marquee Natural Gas Synthesis blue hydrogen project in Clinton County, one of the sources said. CapEx for the project is estimated at $1.5bn. OCGI is a pre-FEED investor in the project and the coming equity raise is meant to attract a FEED investor.

The 200 mtpd project has contracted offtake with Nikola Corporation, one of the sources said. In October it was reported that Nikola and KeyState were working towards a definitive agreement to expand the hydrogen supply for Nikola’s zero-emissions heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles.

The 7,000-acre natural gas and geologic storage site was formerly known for coal, iron and rail, according to the company’s website.

KeyState Energy did not respond to a request for comment. YAC declined to comment.

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Illinois ethanol company seeking offtaker for SAF project

Seeking to diversify into new markets, Marquis, a family-owned ethanol producer based in Illinois, is looking for an offtaker for its first sustainable aviation fuel plant.

Marquis, a family-owned ethanol producer based in Illinois, is seeking an offtaker for its first sustainable aviation fuel plant.

The company, which is developing the plant in partnership with LanzaJet, an SAF firm, recently completed a feasibility study for the project, and is looking for airlines or users of renewable diesel as offtakers, Dr. Jennifer Aurandt Pilgrim, the company’s director of innovation, said in an interview.

Marquis owns and operates a 400 million gallon per year ethanol plant – the largest dry-grind ethanol plant in the world – which produces sustainable ethanol for fuel and chemicals as well as a feed for the aquaculture and poultry industries.

The company will divert roughly 200 million of those gallons to make 120 million gallons per year of SAF and renewable diesel, Aurandt said, noting that Marquis is looking to branch into new markets where ethanol is a feedstock.

“As more electric vehicles come on, there will be about a 3 billion gallon demand destruction for ethanol, and SAF is one of the great markets that we can diversify into,” she said.

Aurandt said financing for the SAF facility will ultimately depend on who the offtaker is.

Use cases

United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Inc. recently formed a joint venture – Blue Blade Energy – to develop and then commercialize SAF technology that uses ethanol as its feedstock.

SAF using corn as a feedstock does not currently qualify for incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, which uses standards laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization that effectively exclude corn-based SAF from qualifying.

Marquis and other ethanol producers are pushing for the adoption of a lifecycle greenhouse gas model, known as GREET, developed by the Argonne National Laboratory, that would allow corn-based feedstock to qualify, said Dustin Marquis, the company’s director of government relations.

The company is also looking to attract partners to set up operations in the Marquis Industrial Complex, which is touted as a 3,300-acre industrial site with natural gas lines, access to multiple forms of transportation, and carbon sequestration on-site.

“We’re looking for other businesses where there would be either vertical integration or business synergies between the two organizations,” Marquis said.

Marquis said in a news release it would develop two 600 ton per day blue hydrogen and blue ammonia facilities along with manufacturing for carbon neutral bio-based chemicals and plastics.

CO2 utilization

In its production process, Marquis makes 1.2 million tons of biogenic CO2 per year, and has applied for an EPA Class IV permit for sequestration.

“We like to say it’s direct air capture with the corn plant,” Aurandt said, adding that the CO2 is purified via fermentation to 99.9% pure, and will be injected into a formation that sits beneath the Marquis Industrial Complex.

The company is additionally developing a CO2 utilization project with LanzaTech, which would augment ethanol production using CO2 as a feedstock. The project was recently awarded an $8.54m grant from the US Department of Energy, the largest award in the category of corn ethanol emission reduction.

“We can increase the amount of ethanol that we produce here by 50%,” Aurandt said. “So we could make 200 million gallons of ethanol per year” from CO2, she added, noting that the pilot demonstration will be the largest CO2 utilization project in North America. It is expected to be operational in late 2024.

The SAF plant and the CO2 utilization project will use hydrogen for refining and as an energy source, respectively, Aurandt said.

Gas Liquid Engineering is the EPC for the CO2 unit, and Marquis will use compressors from Swedish multinational Atlas Copco.

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CCS developer initiating discussions for corporate capital raise

Following its sale of a stake in a mega-scale carbon capture project in the Gulf Coast, Carbonvert is planning to initiate conversations to raise additional corporate capital, with plans to deploy as much as $500m into new projects.

Carbonvert, a Houston-based carbon capture and sequestration developer, is planning to start conversations soon with an eye to raise corporate capital that will allow it to advance mega-scale CCS projects, CEO Alex Tiller said in an interview.

Owned by a group of outside investors and the management team, Carbonvert is advancing a business model that takes advantage of the group’s expertise in early-stage project development, Tiller said.

The company recently completed the sale of its 25% interest in the Bayou Bend CCS project to Norway’s Equinor, which will now own the development alongside Chevron (50%) and Talos Energy (25%).

Bayou Bend CCS is the type of mega-scale project that Carbonvert will be pursuing in coming years, and for which the company will need to raise as much as $500m in corporate capital due to the capital-intensive nature of the projects, Tiller said.

Chevron last year bought its 50% operating stake in Bayou Bend for $50m, implying a $100m valuation for the project, which is positioned to become one of the largest CCS developments in the US for industrial emitters, with nearly 140,000 gross acres of pore space – 100,000 onshore and 40,000 offshore.

Carbonvert’s stake sale, announced yesterday, was “a positive result” for the company, Tiller said, though he declined to comment further on the valuation.

“It delivers capital to our balance sheet and allows us to grow our pipeline of projects and fund additional projects,” he said. Carbonvert used Jefferies as sell-side financial advisor in the sale to Equinor, he added.

Tiller, a veteran of the renewable energy industry, is a founding member of Carbonvert alongside Chief Development Officer Jan Sherman, who previously had a 30-year career with Shell and helped build the oil major’s Quest CCS project in Alberta, Canada.

For the upcoming capital raise, Carbonvert has not decided on whether to use a financial advisor; the structure of the capital raise will likely determine if an advisor is needed, Tiller said.

“We’ll definitely be out raising more corporate capital – these projects are tremendously expensive,” he said. “We’ll be starting conversations soon.”

The company has a line of sight to deploy as much as $500m of capital into its own projects over the next several years, he said, an indication of how much capital it will need to raise.

“These are large infrastructure projects that are going to take many years to bring to fruition, followed by decades of operations,” he said. “We live at the front end of the projects,” he added, “and when the appropriate parties are at the table, it’s really an act of humility to say ‘hey, maybe we’ve taken this as far as we can or should,’” a reference to finding the right time to sell the company’s stakes in the projects it is developing.

In addition to the Bayou Bend CCS project, Carbonvert is part of a consortium that’s developing a carbon hub in Wyoming. The company is also collaborating on an exploratory study for the direct air capture and storage of CO2 emissions from a nuclear power plant in Alabama.

“You can expect to see project announcements that look like Bayou Bend in the future,” Tiller said. “We like that type of mega-scale project, we like offshore, and we’re also pursuing some opportunities onshore that are less mature.”

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