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New Mexico legislature passes clean fuel standard

The state becomes the fourth – following the contiguous West Coast states – to pass a clean fuel standard comparable to the low-carbon fuel standard of California.

The New Mexico legislature has passed a measure to enact a clean fuel standard that proponents favorably compare to the LCFS of California.

The Clean Transportation Fuel Standard, passed by the New Mexico state Senate on Wednesday along party lines, was put forward by the state House earlier this month on a slightly more bi-partisan basis (representatives of oil-producing counties in the southern part of the state were largely opposed).

The proposition is expected to become law, as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed support.

The bill outlines a 20% baseline CI reduction by 2030 and 30% by 2040 with a targeted implementation date of July 2026. It also creates a market where companies that produce high carbon intensity fuels can buy credits from clean fuel producers, or from institutions like school districts and utilities that have implemented decarbonization plans.

“Soon to be another market option for lower carbon transportation fuel!” Brad Pleima, president of EcoEngineers, wrote on LinkedIn.
The New Mexico Low Carbon Fuels Coalition posted on their website that the act is expected to “spur investments in production of low-carbon fuels for New Mexico’s energy sector.”

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Hyzon Motors appoints first COO

Hyzon Motors Inc., a global supplier of zero-emission heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles, has named Dr. Bappa Banerjee as its first chief operating officer.

Hyzon Motors Inc., a global supplier of zero-emission heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles, has named Dr. Bappa Banerjee as chief operating officer (COO), effective May 1, 2023, according to a news release.

As the company’s first COO, Banerjee will oversee Hyzon Motors’ global operations, manufacturing, engineering, commercial and end-to-end supply chain. In this role, Banerjee will lead the operations team to ensure delivery of high-quality products to customers and provide strategic direction for Hyzon’s continued growth as the company develops and delivers hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles throughout its markets.

“Banerjee will be a critical part of Hyzon’s leadership team as we continue working toward our mission of producing zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial vehicles,” said Hyzon CEO Parker Meeks. “His experience includes a rare combination of driving global engineering in powertrain development and implementing world-class manufacturing and operating processes across markets. Bappa brings the industry background and leadership expertise to take Hyzon fuel cell electric trucks to production and commercialization with strong global safety and quality standards, and excellent regional execution.”

Banerjee has more than two decades of experience leading operations, engineering, and commercial functions for global companies including GE Transportation, a Wabtec Company, and Caterpillar, according to the release. Throughout his career, Banerjee has held full profit and loss responsibilities at multi-billion dollar top-line businesses, and demonstrated a proven track record of growing sales across international markets while reducing costs through the implementation of Lean Manufacturing processes.

“I have long been convinced of hydrogen’s critical role in decarbonizing transport, and Hyzon Motors is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation, working toward a clean energy future,” said Banerjee. “The opportunity to tangibly impact our lives by reducing carbon and noise emissions for our communities excites me tremendously. I look forward to joining the talented team at Hyzon and applying my industry and operational experience to help accelerate the production of zero-emission hydrogen vehicles.”

Most recently, Banerjee served as vice president, mining equipment at GE Transportation where he led the new technology development, design, production, and sale of electric drive propulsion systems for mining equipment, including aftermarket. This included developing battery and fuel cell electric solutions, purpose-built to meet the needs of the challenging, harsh mining environment. In this role, Banerjee oversaw the sales, marketing, and supply chain localization for global growth.

Prior to his role at GE Transportation, Banerjee held progressing roles at Caterpillar in the Resource Industries Division, where he served as Worldwide Product Head of Off-Highway Trucks & Wheel Tractor Scrapers, and Facility Head for Caterpillar Remanufacturing China & Japan. Banerjee was a crucial leader in establishing a long-term strategic plan for Caterpillar Remanufacturing Services (Shanghai), developing local leadership, establishing a succession pipeline, and growing the business.

This appointment follows the appointments Hyzon has made in recent months of CEO Parker Meeks, interim Chief Financial Officer Jiajia Wu, President of International Operations John Edgley, and President of North America Pat Griffin.

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Black Hills Energy studying hydrogen production from coal

BHE will partner with Babcock & Wilcox to study the cost and economics of deploying chemical looping technology at commercial scale to produce hydrogen from Powder River Basin coal and a nearly pure stream of CO2.

Black Hills Energy (BHE) has selected its BrightLoop hydrogen generation technology from Babcock & Wilcox for the feasibility study of a proposed project to produce clean hydrogen from coal and capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at BHE’s Neil Simpson Power Plant in Gillette, Wyo.

BrightLoop is a novel chemical looping technology that can use a variety of fuels to produce clean energy with complete CO2 capture, according to a news release from the companies.

BHE will partner with B&W to study the cost and economics of deploying the BrightLoop chemical looping technology at commercial scale to produce low carbon intensity hydrogen gas from Powder River Basin (PRB) coal and a nearly pure stream of CO2 suitable for beneficial use or storage without the need for expensive carbon separation equipment.

“As the United States and much of the world transitions to near-zero emissions fuels, our BrightLoop technology – which captures COand other pollutants while producing hydrogen – can provide a vital pathway to utilize our abundant natural resource of coal in a net-zero world,” said B&W Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Morgan.

“We are excited to utilize our highly experienced U.S. engineering team to work with BHE to develop a solution that will help them achieve their goals of creating and preserving jobs, diversifying Wyoming’s energy production and establishing new markets for the state’s natural resources,” Morgan said. “We thank BHE for this opportunity and for the confidence they have shown in B&W’s BrightLoop technology.”

Mark Stege, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of Wyoming operations agreed, adding, “Over 30 years of research has led us to this opportunity to unite clean energy technology with Wyoming’s important and abundant energy resources. We appreciate the partnership with B&W and the prospect of leveraging innovative hydrogen technology to deliver efficient energy to customers.”

B&W’s BrightLoop chemical looping technology is part of its ClimateBright suite of decarbonization and hydrogen technologies. The BrightLoop process uses a proprietary, regenerable particle and has been demonstrated to effectively separate CO2 while producing hydrogen, steam and/or syngas.

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Vertex Energy appoints advisor for renewable fuels strategy

NASDAQ-listed Vertex has engaged BofA as strategic financial advisor.

Vertex Energy, Inc., a specialty refiner and marketer of refined products, has named BofA Securities as strategic financial advisor to assist with its renewable fuels and sustainable products growth strategy.

During this engagement, the company expects to review various potential strategic transaction opportunities aimed at strengthening the balance sheet to support growth acceleration and asset development in line with the company’s forward trajectory as an energy transition company, it said in a statement.

Vertex has not set a timetable for the completion of this process and does not intend to comment further unless or until the Board of Directors has approved a definitive course of action, or it is determined that other disclosure is necessary or appropriate.

Benjamin P. Cowart, President and CEO of Vertex, stated, “Scaling our renewable fuels and sustainable products strategy is a top priority for us. As such, we are tightening our focus on strategic initiatives and considering options that optimally support our long-term vision. We believe BofA has the right tools and expertise to help us transition into this next phase of development for the company.”

Vertex Energy commissioned its first renewable diesel facility at the company’s Mobile refinery and the first renewable diesel facility in Alabama in. May.

In 2022, Vertex acquired a conventional fuels refinery from Shell plc, immediately launching a $115m conversion project. The primary aim of the project was to convert a standalone unit within the refinery to facilitate the production of renewable diesel, a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel fuel.

The project reached mechanical completion on March 31st of this year.

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Exclusive: Seattle biomass-to-chemical firm planning equity round

A firm with plans for a biorefinery in Washington state will raise its first large equity round early next year.

Planted Materials, a Seattle-based biomass-to-chemicals company, is in early design stages for its first biorefinery in eastern Washington state and planning to raise an equity round in early 2025, co-founders Noah Belkhous and Greg Jenson said in an interview.

The company will seek to raise between $10m and $20m ahead of FID on the biorefinery, Belkhous said. The four-year-old company has raised $500k from angel investors to date and is currently raising another $1m from high net worth individuals in the Seattle region.

Planted Materials does not have a relationship with a financial advisor but is open to one, Belkhous said.

The company’s recycling model takes municipal landfill waste and converts it to chemical materials for pharmaceutical, paper, plastic and other manufacturing industries.

The proprietary recycling process is something the company would like to license to municipalities in the US and abroad, in addition to building biorefineries in the Pacific Northwest, Belkhous said. The company’s lab is currently based in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Early design work on the first biorefinery is underway. The duo expects CapEx to cap at $50m, reaching FID in 2026 and beginning construction that year.

While the majority of the company’s feedstock will likely come from the major metropolitan regions in the western PNW, refining capacity is more attractive in the east for reasons of space and existing waste management infrastructure. Jenson noted the presence of the relevant research campus of Washington State University in Pullman, as well as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.

Recently, the team accompanied Washington Governor Jay Inslee and members of the Washington State Department of Commerce on a trip to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. The company has applied to a pair of $350k grants from the state.
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London-based hydrogen fund expanding in US

A UK-based investor in early-stage hydrogen companies has completely allocated its first two funds and is looking to grow its presence in the US.

AP Ventures, the London-based venture capital and private equity firm, will need new advisory relationships and offices in the US as it looks for investors and deployment opportunities there, Managing Partner Andrew Hinkly said in an interview.

The company has fully allocated its first two funds with 12 LPs, Hinkly said.

Fund 1 ($85m) is fully deployed with two of the LPs. Two realizations have come from that fund to date: the sale of United Hydrogen Group in Tennessee to Plug Power and the sale of Hyatt Hydrogen to Fortescue Future Industries.

Fund 2 ($315m) is fully allocated with 12 LPs, including the two from Fund 1. The portfolio includes 21 companies across the hydrogen value chain (ammonia for transport, liquefaction, electrolyzer production, compressor technology, etc.) at the seed, Series A and Series B stages.

“We believe we have a very differentiated set of capabilities and experiences because we are singularly focused on the hydrogen value chain,” Hinkly said.

The firm’s LPs include AngloAmerican, Equinor, Implats, Mitsubishi, Nyso Climate Investments, Pavilion Capital, Plastic Omnium, Public Investment Corporation, Sparx, Sumitomo, and Yara International.

Strategic advice need apply

In the near-term AP Ventures can offer deal flow, opportunities within portfolio companies for various professional services, and an understanding of the progression of hydrogen businesses for later-stage investors, Hinkly said.

Transactions to date have been conducted bilaterally with external legal counsel, Hinkly said. AP Ventures has yet to engage a financial advisor for that purpose.

“If you want to know about hydrogen and hydrogen deal flow, AP Ventures sees most of it,” Hinkley said. “We bring with us an ecosystem of fairly regular co-investors who are similarly interested in hydrogen.”

Co-investors include Amazon, Mitsuibishi, Chevron and Aramco.

Some of the firm’s more mature companies will take on strategic consulting services as they prepare for larger fundraising, Hinkly said.

“Clearly there are a series of advisory services that our portfolio companies require as they raise capital or subsequently look to acquire or be acquired,” he added.

Later-stage investors are keen to understand the development of AP’s portfolio, Hinkly said. Topco equity and larger-scale infrastructure investors have collaborative relationships with the firm as they prepare to acquire its portfolio companies in the future.

“We have a common interest in the continued development and maturity of the companies we’re investing in,” Hinkly said. “We have an ever-increasing roster of later-stage private equity investors who have a desire to maintain a dialog with us and to be introduced to our portfolio companies on a regular basis.”

New world opportunities

US portfolio companies could be in greater need of strategic advisory services in the near term than some of AP’s European holdings, Hinkly said.

The firm is looking to establish offices in the US with an eye on Denver and Houston, Hinkly said.

Greater support for hydrogen in the US under the IRA means European companies within AP Ventures’ portfolio are also looking to establish themselves in the US.

In terms of a target market, AP Ventures is particularly interested in Texas, which Hinkly said he expects will be the hydrogen capital of the world. Existing infrastructure, human capital and enormous wind and solar resources pair well with a willingness to build out the industry there, he said.

AP will continue investing in the full hydrogen value chain as it has been for years, identifying weak spots in the chain to strengthen the industry, Hinkly said. But moving forward, the firm would like to invest in carbon capture utilization and storage as well.

Scaling up with the industry

As the hydrogen industry grows and its portfolio companies scale, there is significant opportunity for AP Ventures to grow and provide more financing, Hinkly said.

“There is a huge requirement for capital and we are knowledgeable, very knowledgeable, of where good opportunities exist,” he said.

The nature of the firm’s early contracts gives them preferential access to those opportunities in some cases as well. Whether that would be best done directly with a new fund or partnership with a firm with complementary skills is an open question.

“That strategic question is one that’s frankly ahead of us this year.”

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Exclusive: Wisconsin RNG portfolio for sale with large renewables portfolio

A major Canadian utility is auctioning off four Wisconsin RNG assets as part of a larger renewables selldown. The subsidiary at auction has previously indicated that it would take part in Northeastern US hydrogen development.

Algonquin Power & Utilities is selling a package of four renewable natural gas assets, totaling 532 mmbtu, in Wisconsin as part of a larger renewables auction, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

JP Morgan is advising on the process, codenamed Project Power, the sources said.

The process comprises mostly operational onshore wind (2,325 MW) and solar (670 MW), along with an 8 GW development pipeline across 10 power markets, according to a teaser seen by ReSource. The renewable assets are collectively known as Liberty under the Algonquin banner.

The pipeline includes 1,600 mmbtu of RNG. The operational RNG assets reached COD in 2022.

Algonquin did not respond to requests for comment. JP Morgan declined comment.

The Wisconsin assets are apparently the former Sandhill Advanced Biofuels projects, which were acquired by Algonquin in 2022.

When that acquisition was made, it was announced that Liberty had signed on as a “hydrogen ecosystem partner” in the multi-state Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub. That hub ultimately was not selected by the US department of Energy for hub funding.

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