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New renewable diesel plant transacts at $499m

Camber Energy, a NYSE-traded energy company, has reached a deal to acquire 100% of the interests in New Rise Renewables, the owner of a newly developed renewable diesel plant in Reno, Nevada.

Camber Energy, a NYSE-traded energy company, has reached a deal to acquire 100% of the interests in New Rise Renewables, the owner of a newly developed renewable diesel plant in Reno, Nevada.

The plant, which will produce 43,000,000 gallons per year (5,971,585 MMBTUs) of renewable diesel from triglyceride oils such as corn, was purchased for $499m, representing a purchase price of $750m less $251m of existing company liabilities, according to a securities filing. The seller is RESC Renewables Holdings, a predecessor company to Ryze Renewables, which developed the project.

The renewable diesel produced by New Rise Renewables Reno is completely interchangeable with diesel derived from petroleum and can efficiently power diesel engines, such as semi-trucks and large-scale emergency generators. Phillips 66 is under contract to supply all of the feedstock for New Rise Renewables Reno and will purchase 100% of the renewable diesel product for use and sale nearby in California.

The parties had reached a framework for the deal in late 2021, subject to purchase price adjustments and other closing conditions.

Reno-based Greater Commercial Lending (GCL) facilitated $112.6m in government-guaranteed credit for the development of New Rise Renewables Reno. Eighty percent of the GCL-arranged financing for New Rise Renewables Reno is guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) via its 9003 Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biodiesel Production Manufacturing Assistance Program. The financing structure includes participation by GCL parent Greater Nevada Credit Union, other credit unions, insurance companies and secondary market groups.

Renewable diesel is made by causing chemical reactions through the addition of hydrogen to the natural fats and oils. New Rise has deployed proven state-of-the-art efficient and cost-effective technology methods, which involves hydrogenating the triglycerides, according to an August news release. The process uses hydrogen, pressure, catalyst and heat in an efficient manner, allowing reactions to be uniform and controlled – increasing yield, lowering operating costs and allowing for feedstock flexibility.

The fuel plant is located in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, the largest industrial park in the world. Other occupants include Tesla, Walmart, Google, FedEx, Switch and Panasonic.

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Technology in focus: Avnos’ hybrid direct air capture uses water instead of heat

By using water captured from the atmosphere to regenerate its CO2-capturing sorbents, Avnos hopes to cut the operating costs of direct air capture plants and lower barriers to deployment.

One of the challenges of direct air capture (DAC), the new technology that promises to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air all around us, is that it needs a lot of energy, and thus costs a lot of money. Currently, different types of DAC technologies require between 6 and 10 gigajoules per ton of carbon dioxide captured, according to the International Energy Agency.

The key to making a new DAC technology successful therefore is cutting energy needs and costs. Avnos, a Los Angeles-based carbon removal company, is trying to accomplish this by developing what it calls hybrid direct air capture (HDAC), backed by $36m in Series A funding closed in February, and over $80m in strategic and investment partnerships, announced in July

Avnos’ process is described as “hybrid” DAC because it captures both CO2 and water, as humidity, from the atmosphere at the same time. 

“In a generic DAC process, heat is critical to separating the captured CO2 from its ‘sponge,’ or sorbent, and regenerating that sorbent so that a plant may operate cyclically,” Avnos co-founder and CEO Will Kain said in an interview. “By contrast, Avnos uses a reaction enabled by the water it sources from the atmosphere to regenerate its sorbents. The impact of this use of water in the place of heat lowers the operating costs of an Avnos plant and lowers the barriers to deployment.” 

Less heat means less energy, which means companies using Avnos’ technology will have to compete less than regular DAC to access carbon-free energy sources and will have more flexibility in terms of where to put their facilities. 

“Unlike peer DAC companies who build and operate their hardware, our product is designed to be licensed and operated by any company committed to decarbonization and allows them to upgrade, modularly, as the tech advances over the long term,” Kain told ReSource

Avnos has an active pilot plant in Bakersfield, California, funded by the Department Of Energy and SoCal Gas. The plant began operating in November 2023, and it can capture 30 tons of CO2 and produce 150 tons of water annually. 

The company is also in the process of building a second pilot plant with the U.S. Office of Naval Research to pilot CO2 capture and e-fuels production – Avnos does not currently produce e-fuels, but sustainable aviation fuels producers could use its technology to source water and CO2, and it partners with sustainable aviation investors like JetBlue Ventures and Safran. 

Additionally, it is going to use money from its recently announced round of funding to open a research and development facility outside New York City, and it says it’s involved in four of the developing DAC hubs that were selected for funding awards by the DOE: the California Direct Air Capture Hub, the Western Regional DAC Hub, the Pelican-Gulf Coast Carbon Removal, and a fourth undisclosed one.

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Duke to build end-to-end hydrogen facility in Florida

During times of high energy demand, the system will deliver stored green hydrogen to a combustion turbine that can run on a natural gas/hydrogen blend or up to 100% hydrogen.

Duke Energy will break ground in DeBary, Fla., on a demonstration project in the United States to create clean energy using an end-to-end system to produce, store and combust 100% green hydrogen.

The system is the result of collaboration between Duke Energy, Sargent and Lundy, and GE Vernova and will be located at Duke Energy Florida’s DeBary plant in Volusia County, Fla.

“Duke Energy is constantly evolving and seeking ways to provide clean, safe energy solutions to our customers,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president in a news release. “DeBary will be home to Duke Energy’s first green hydrogen production and storage system connected to existing solar for power generation, and we are grateful to the city for allowing this innovative technology in their community.”

The system will begin with the existing 74.5 MW DeBary solar plant providing clean energy for two 1 MW electrolyzer units.

Construction of the project will begin later this year and could take about one year to complete. Duke Energy anticipates the system will be installed and fully functioning in 2024.

The resulting oxygen will be released into the atmosphere, while the green hydrogen will be delivered to nearby, reinforced containers for safe storage. During times when energy demand is highest, the system will deliver the stored green hydrogen to a combustion turbine (CT) that will be upgraded using GE Vernova technology to run on a natural gas/hydrogen blend or up to 100% hydrogen. This will be the nation’s first CT in operation running on such a high percentage of hydrogen.

“Duke Energy anticipates hydrogen could play a major role in our clean energy future,” said Regis Repko, senior vice president of generation and transmission strategy for Duke Energy. “Hydrogen has significant potential for decarbonization across all sectors of the U.S. economy. It is a clean energy also capable of long-duration storage, which would help Duke Energy ensure grid reliability as we continue adding more renewable energy sources to our system.”

Readily available hydrogen is a dispatchable energy source, meaning it is available on demand. It can be turned on and off at any time and is not dependent on the time of day or the weather, like sun, wind or other renewable energy sources known as intermittent.

Dispatchable energy provides a needed element of reliability that will enable us to add more intermittent energy sources, yet still ensure we can meet customer demand, even during extended periods of high demand. Using solar energy to generate green hydrogen enables solar plants to be optimized. Relying on intermittent energy sources without available dispatchable energy sources would put our future electric system at risk of having insufficient energy to serve customer demand.

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Plug Power cuts near-term hydrogen production forecast, nixes two projects

In a presentation, a company executive said Plug Power was still on track to meet its production targets by the end of 2023.

Plug Power has cut its hydrogen production forecast for this year after cancelling plans for two plants and experiencing permitting delays at a third project.

New York-based Plug will be able to produce roughly 50 tons of green hydrogen per day by year end, compared to an earlier company forecast of 70 tons, Chief Strategy Officer Sanjay Shrestha said Wednesday during a presentation at Plug’s annual symposium.

The company experienced delays for a substation permit at its 45-ton plant in New York, setting the project back by about 12 months. Plug also explored but decided not to pursue two 30-ton-per-day projects, one in Canada and one in Pennsylvania, Shrestha said.

Shares in the Nasdaq-listed company declined more than 13% since Wednesday’s open, trading today at $16.40 per share and a $9.49bn market cap.

Meanwhile, Plug is focused on commissioning its first 15-ton-per-day liquid hydrogen plant in Georgia, and is expanding production at its Tennessee plant from 10 tons of liquid hydrogen to 15 tons, Shrestha said.

“We want to make sure that we’re being really, really prudent about capital allocation as we’re building this network, and not just focus on 50 versus 70 as a number,” he said.

Shrestha added that Plug is still on track to be commissioned for 200 tons per day of production by the end of 2023, and 500 tons per day by 2025.

To reach 200 tons per day, Plus is planning to expand its New York plant to 75 tons per day, and is breaking ground on a plant in Texas that will produce 45 tons per day. The company also has an option to expand its Georgia facility to 45 tons from 15 tons currently.

Source: Plug Power

Multiplier effect

The approval of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US “makes green hydrogen economical versus every single form of grey hydrogen in the market today – period,” Shrestha said, including for refining, for green ammonia, and for methanol. “That is already a 25,000-tons-per-day opportunity.”

The IRA will also lead to major capital formation in hydrogen, potentially steering Plug and others to fund projects with around 30% of equity capital while leveraging the remaining project costs. Plug has been funding projects with 100% equity capital.

With the production tax credit in the IRA, “you will at least get a 4x – 5x multiplier on the equity capital,” he said, allowing Plug to use equity capital to pursue additional projects.

“This will follow a similar pattern to what you have seen in the solar and wind industry in the last decade,” Shrestha said.

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Hydrogen firm launches equity raise

A US hydrogen infrastructure and project development outfit has mandated a banker to conduct a raise for equity and project capital.

Lifte H2, the Boston-based hydrogen infrastructure and project developer, has mandated a banker to conduct a Series A capital raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners is running the process, which launched recently, the sources said. Lifte H2 is seeking equity in the topco and development capital for its first project.

Talks with strategic and financial investors are being conducted now.

Lifte H2, which also has offices in Berlin, is led by Co-founder and CEO Matthew Blieske, who served as global hydrogen product manager for Shell before starting Lifte H2 in 2021. The founding team also includes Jeremy Manaus, Angela Akroyd, Richard Zhang, Paul Karzel, and Richard Wiens, all of whom previously worked at Shell.

In January, the company launched two hydrogen transport and dispensing products, the MACH₂ Mobile Refueler, which is a combination dispenser and high-capacity trailer; and the MACH2 High-Capacity Hydrogen Trailer, which has a capacity of 1,330 kg at approximately 550 bar and, according to the company, enables the lowest cost per kilogram for over-the-road transport.

The company signed an MOU last year with Swiss compressor manufacturer Burckhardt Compression to develop a joint offering of hydrogen solutions.

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Exclusive: OCI Global exploring ammonia and methanol asset sales

Global ammonia and methanol producer OCI Global is working with an investment bank to explore a sale of ammonia and methanol assets as part of the re-opening of its strategic business review.

OCI Global is evaluating a sale of several ammonia and methanol assets as part of the re-opening of its strategic business review.

The global producer and distributor of methanol and ammonia is working with Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of its ammonia production facility in Beaumont, Texas, as well as the co-located blue ammonia project under development, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The evaluation also includes OCI’s methanol business, one of the sources said.

Representatives of OCI and Morgan Stanley did not respond to requests for comment.

As part of the earlier strategic review announced last year, OCI in December announced the divestiture of its 50% stake in Fertiglobe to ADNOC, and the sale of its Iowa Fertilizer Company to Koch Industries, bringing in $6.2bn in total net proceeds.

However, OCI has received additional inbound inquiries from potential acquirers for the remaining business, leading it to re-open the review, CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy said last month on OCI’s 4Q23 earnings call.

“As such, OCI is exploring further value creative strategic actions across the portfolio, including the previously announced equity participation in its Texas blue clean ammonia project,” he said, adding: “All options are on the table.”

The comments echoed the remarks of Nassef Sawiris, a 40% shareholder of OCI, who recently told the Financial Times that OCI could sell off most of its assets and become a shell for acquisitions.

In the earnings presentation, El-Hoshy took time to lay out the remaining pieces of the business: in particular, OCI’s 350 ktpa ammonia facility in Beaumont; OCI Methanol Group, encompassing 2 million tons of production capacity in the US and a shuttered Dutch methanol plant; and its European ammonia/nitrogen assets.

Texas blue

The Texas blue ammonia project is a 1.1 million-tons-per-year facility that OCI touts as the only greenfield blue ammonia project to reach FID to date. The company has invested $500m in the project as of February 24, out of a total $1bn expected investment, according to a presentation.

“Commercial discussions for long-term product offtake and equity investments in the project are at advanced stages with multiple parties,” El-Hoshy said. “This reflects the very strong commercial interest and increasing appetite from the strategics to pay a price premium to secure long-term low-carbon ammonia.”

El-Hoshy’s comments highlight the fact that, unlike most projects in development, OCI took FID on the Texas blue facility without an offtake agreement in place. The executive did, however, highlight the first-mover cost advantages from breaking ground on the project early and avoiding construction cost inflation.

Additionally, the project was designed to accommodate a second 1.1 mtpa blue ammonia production line, which would be easier to build given existing utilities and infrastructure, El-Hoshy said, allowing for an opportunity to capitalize on additional clean ammonia demand at low development costs.

“Line 2 probably has the biggest advantage, we think, in North America in terms of building a plant where a lot of the existing outside the battery limits items and utilities are already in place,” he said, emphasizing that by moving early on the first phase, they avoided some of the inflationary EPC pressures of recent years. 

At the facility OCI will buy clean hydrogen and nitrogen over the fence from Linde, and Linde, in turn, will capture and sequester CO2 via an agreement with ExxonMobil.

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Carbon-negative materials firm in $40m equity raise

A Texas-based manufacturer of renewable plastics is developing its first plant in the Midwest, with a commercialization date set for 2026.

Citroniq Chemicals, a maker of renewable and carbon-negative plastics, is undergoing a $40m equity raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The process has launched and is being led by Young America Capital, the sources said. The company’s projects account for about $1bn in CapEx.

Based in Houston, Citroniq uses bio-based feedstocks to produce plastics at scale. The company recently signed a Letter of Intent with Lummus Technology for the development of Citroniq’s green polypropylene projects in North America.

“With a projected investment of over $5bn and a combined polypropylene annual capacity of over 3.5 billion pounds, Citroniq is prepared to execute a rapid expansion plan of its E2O process, to meet the market’s growing need for sustainable, carbon negative polypropylene at a competitive price,” Mel Badheka, Principal and Co-Founder of Citroniq Chemicals, said in a press release announcing the LOI. “Located in the Midwest, Citroniq’s first plant is scheduled to start production in 2026 and provide identical, drop-in products that can be directly certified as biogenic through physical testing.”

In January Citroniq announced a separate LOI with Mitsui Plastics for a large-scale supply agreement for sustainable polypropylene.

Citronia and Young America Capital did not respond to requests for comment.

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