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NEXT Renewables acquires Oregon biofuels assets

Lakeview RNG plans to redevelop a failed biofuels project into a facility producing RNG and clean hydrogen from waste wood.

Lakeview RNG, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEXT Renewable Fuels, has acquired assets associated with the Red Rock Biofuels development in Lake County, OR, according to a news release.

The company is commencing a redevelopment plan focused on completing construction of certain aspects of the site while replacing or enhancing others. When complete, the Lakeview RNG facility is expected to be capable of converting forest waste into renewable natural gas and clean hydrogen.

NEXT Renewable Fuels reached a deal to go public via a SPAC transaction with listed Industrial Tech Acquisitions II. A merger agreement for the deal, which was set to close on April 14, has been extended to December 14, according to SEC filings.

“Acquiring the Lake County clean fuels infrastructure is another advancement in our mission to decarbonize the transportation industry and produce low carbon fuels at scale,” said Christopher Efird, CEO and Chairperson of NEXT. “This acquisition represents a major step toward our clean fuel production capabilities and pathways to meet growing demand for clean fuels along the west coast of the United States while helping to address the critical concern of forest health.”

Using wood waste, or “slash,” as the feedstock, Lakeview RNG will process that wood waste and turn it into a low-carbon gaseous fuel, benefitting environmental and community health in southern Oregon and beyond.

Lakeview RNG has evaluated the potential feedstock supply in Oregon and determined that all of its wood waste needs could come from within 150 miles of the facility. Wood waste used at the facility will be certified and compliant with applicable regulations for RNG production. Converting forest waste to renewable fuel products helps reduce forest fire fuel loads and provide an additional revenue source to timber communities. The local distribution network in Lake County is anchored by the Ruby pipeline and can deliver renewable fuels to transportation markets in Oregon and along the west coast.

The purchase price of the facility has not been disclosed.

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Bloom Energy demonstrates 4 MW solid oxide electrolyzer

According to the company, the high-temperature, high-efficiency unit produces 20-25% more hydrogen per MW than commercially demonstrated lower temperature electrolyzers.

Bloom Energy has begun generating hydrogen from the world’s largest solid oxide electrolyzer installation at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the historic Moffett Field research facility in Mountain View, Calif, according to a news release.

This high-temperature, high-efficiency unit produces 20-25% more hydrogen per megawatt (MW) than commercially demonstrated lower temperature electrolyzers such as proton electrolyte membrane (PEM) or alkaline.

This electrolyzer demonstration showcases the maturity, efficiency and commercial readiness of Bloom’s solid oxide technology for large-scale, clean hydrogen production. The 4 MW Bloom Electrolyzer™, delivering the equivalent of over 2.4 metric tonnes per day of hydrogen output, was built, installed and operationalized in a span of two months to demonstrate the speed and ease of deployment.

“This demonstration is a major milestone for reaching net-zero goals,” said KR Sridhar, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman and CEO of Bloom Energy. “Hydrogen will be essential for storing intermittent and curtailed energy and for decarbonizing industrial energy use. Commercially viable electrolyzers are the key to unlocking the energy storage puzzle, and solid oxide electrolyzers offer inherently superior technology and economic advantages. Bloom Energy, as the global leader in solid oxide technology, is proud to share this exciting demonstration with the world: our product is ready for prime time.”

The current demonstration expands on Bloom’s recent project on a 100 kW system located at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) which achieved record-breaking electrolyzer efficiency. In the ongoing project, 4500 hours of full load operations have been completed with a Bloom Electrolyzer™ producing hydrogen more efficiently than any other process – over 25% more efficiently than low-temperature electrolysis.

The INL steam and load simulations replicated nuclear power conditions to validate full capability of technology application at nuclear facilities, and the pilot results revealed the Bloom Electrolyzer producing hydrogen at 37.7 kWh per kg of hydrogen. Dynamic testing conducted at INL included ramping down the system from 100 percent of rated power to 5 percent in less than 10 minutes without adverse system impacts. Even at 5 percent of rated load, the energy efficiency (kWh/kg) was as good or better than other electrolyzer technologies at their 100% rated capacity. These results will be presented at the Department of Energy’s Annual Review Meeting in Washington DC on June 7, 2023.

“The amount of electricity needed by the electrolyzer to make hydrogen will be the most dominant factor in determining hydrogen production cost. For this reason, the efficiency of the electrolyzer, the electricity needed to produce a kilogram of hydrogen becomes the most critical figure of merit. This 4 MW demonstration at the NASA Ames Research Center proves that the energy efficiency of our large-scale electrolyzer is similar to the small-scale system tested at INL highlighting the strength of our modular architecture,” said Dr. Ravi Prasher, Chief Technology Officer of Bloom Energy. “The electrolyzer product is leveraging the Bloom platform knowhow of more than 1 GW of solid oxide fuel cells deployed in the field and providing approximately 1 trillion cumulative cell operating hours. The same technology platform that can convert natural gas and hydrogen to electricity can be used reversibly to convert electricity to hydrogen. With Bloom’s high-efficiency, high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzers, we are one step closer to a decarbonized future powered by low-cost clean hydrogen.”

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CarbonQuest and Daroga Power partner on C&I fuel cell and carbon capture

The partnership is providing clients with financing for the upfront capital necessary to purchase their fuel cell and carbon capture systems.

CarbonQuest, a carbon capture technology provider supporting the onsite decarbonization of buildings, campus settings and other facilities, and Daroga Power, a ​​sustainable infrastructure and distributed generation developer, have entered a partnership to bring a low-carbon fuel cell solution to the commercial and industrial sectors in the U.S. and Canada.

Under the terms of the partnership, Daroga Power will develop, install and operate fuel cells that can power industrial facilities, buildings, and campus settings without interruptions and without the need for batteries, according to a news release.

CarbonQuest’s Distributed Carbon Capture™ system will be used in conjunction with the fuel cells to capture the systems’ generated carbon before it is emitted to the atmosphere. CarbonQuest will also sell the captured carbon to industrial users.

To hasten adoption, the partnership is providing clients with financing for the upfront capital necessary to purchase the systems. Daroga and CarbonQuest will also provide long-term maintenance support for the fuel cells and carbon capture components.

Given the power capacity limitations of the New York regional grid, along with delayed renewable interconnection, a fuel cell + carbon capture solution offers both short- and long-term benefits to many types of energy users with on-site, base-load power that is also low carbon.

CarbonQuest and Daroga aim to sign on approximately 20 projects in the next 12 months, which will generate an anticipated 100,000 metric tons per year of recycled, liquified Sustainable CO2.

After being captured by CarbonQuest’s system, the liquid CO2 will be sold to various off-takers across the Northeastern U.S. Given the severe constraint of CO2 supply in the region, CarbonQuest’s Sustainable CO2™ offers a unique solution for CO2 users while also supporting the growth of new carbon-based industries.

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Nel sells shares of Danish firm Everfuel

Nel has sold its shareholdings of Danish green hydrogen spin-off firm Everfuel to Japanese partners Itochu Corporation and Osaka Gas.

Nel ASA has agreed to sell all its shares in Danish green hydrogen producer Everfuel.

A total of 11,698,918 shares are sold for a total consideration of NOK 116.6m ($10.6m), equal to NOK 9.97 per share, according to a release from Nel.

HyVC ApS, a company owned by Japanese corporations Itochu Corporation and Osaka gas, is the block buyer of the shares.

Everfuel said the Japanese partners will support future equity financing rounds and invest in one or more of its private placements in the next 36 months with up to EUR 20m, with an initial contribution being the commissioning of Everfuel’s HySynergy phase 1 project.

“Nel is in a build-up phase streamlining the company and focusing all resources on our own growth. We are therefore divesting non-strategic financial positions. With this sale we no longer own any equity listed instruments,” said Kjell Christian Bjørnsen, CFO of Nel.

Everfuel was spun out of Nel in 2020 and has since then been a key client for both Nel’s Electrolyser and Fueling departments, Nel said in the release.

“With this transaction, Everfuel will get a solid, long-term industrial cornerstone investor. Nel has been with Everfuel from the beginning, and while we are no longer shareholders, we look forward to a close relationship with the company,” said Bjørnsen.

Closing of the transaction is contingent upon regulatory approvals.

Carnegie acted as financial advisor to Nel in connection with the transaction.

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Exclusive: Banker enlisted for CO2-to-SAF capital raise

BofA Securities is running a capital raise for a US-based CO2-to-SAF technology provider and project developer with a global pipeline of projects.

eFuels developer Infinium has launched a Series C capital raise along with efforts to advance unannounced projects in its development pipeline, Ayesha Choudhury, head of capital markets, said in an interview.

Bank of America has been engaged to advise on the capital raise.

Infinium recently announced the existence of Project Roadrunner, located in West Texas, which will convert an existing brownfield gas-to-liquids project into an eFuels facility delivering products to both US and international markets. Breakthrough Energy Catalyst has contributed $75m in project equity.

Infinium, which launched in 2020, closed a $69m Series B in 2021, with Amazon, NextEra and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries participating. Its Project Pathfinder in Corpus Christi is fully capitalized.

About a dozen projects, split roughly 50/50 between North America and the rest of the world, are in development now, Choudhury said. The company is always scouting new projects and is looking for partners to provide CO2, develop power generation and offtake end products.

A CO2 feedstock agreement for a US Midwest project with BlackRock-backed Navigator CO2 Ventures was recently scrapped after the latter developer cancelled its CO2 pipeline project.

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Exclusive: California IPP considering hydrogen options for gas generation portfolio

A California-based IPP is considering burning hydrogen in the thermal plants it acquires, as well as in a portfolio of gas peaking assets it is developing in Texas and the western US.

Nightpeak Energy, the Oakland-based IPP backed by Energy Spectrum Capital, is planning to have wide optionality to burn hydrogen in the gas plants it acquires, as well as in quick-start peaking natural gas assets it is developing in Texas and the western US, CEO Paris Hays said in an interview.

“There’s just not a lot of places in this country where you can procure enough hydrogen at a reasonable price to actually serve wholesale electricity customers,” Hays said of the existing hydrogen landscape.

Still, OEMs are figuring out in real time which of their deployed fleet can burn hydrogen, he said. Studies on blending seem to be yielding positive results.

“That’s great news for a business like ours, because we can have optionality,” Hays said. When interacting with equipment providers, conversion to hydrogen is an important, if expensive, discussion point.

“We want to be in a position to be able to do that for our customers,” Hays said. “We can offer a premium product, which is kind of rare in our business.”

Nightpeak recently purchased Saguaro Power Co., which owns a 90 MW combined cycle power plant in Nevada. That facility is a candidate for hydrogen repowering, Hays said, though that’s just one option for an asset that is currently cash-flowing well.

The Nevada facility is close to California, which notably is a market with a demonstrated appetite for paying green premiums, Hays said.

“We wouldn’t manufacture hydrogen ourselves, we would be a buyer,” he said. “This is one path that any plants we own or develop could take in the future.”

Nightpeak has yet to announce any greenfield projects. But Hays said the company is developing a portfolio of “quick-start” natural gas generation projects in ERCOT and WECC. Those assets, 100 MW or more, are to be developed with the concept of hydrogen conversion or blending in mind.

Proposition 7, which recently passed in Texas, could present an opportunity for Nightpeak as the legislation’s significant provisions for natural gas development has pundits and some lawmakers calling for the assets to be hydrogen-ready.

Investor interest in being able to convert gas assets to burn hydrogen reflect an important decision-making process for Nightpeak, Hays said.

“Does it makes sense to just buy a turbine that only burns natural gas and may be a stranded asset at some point, or would we rather pay and select a turbine that already has the optionality?” Hays said. “Putting price aside, you’re always going to go for optionality.”

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Advisor Profile: Cameron Lynch of Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners

The veteran engineer and financial advisor sees widespread opportunity for capital deployment into early-stage renewable fuel companies.

Cameron Lynch, co-founder and managing partner at Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners, sees prodigious opportunity to pick up mandates in the hydrogen sector as young companies and early movers attract well-capitalized investors looking for auspicious valuations.

The firm, a three-year-old boutique investment banking outfit with offices in New York and Houston, is broadly committed to the energy transition, but is recruiting for new personnel with hydrogen expertise, Lynch said, adding that he is preparing for a new level of dealmaking in the new year.

“I think we can all expect 2023 will be even more of a record year, just given the appetite for hydrogen,” Lynch said. “Hydrogen is one of our core focuses for next year.”

Cameron Lynch

Lynch started his career as a civil & structural engineer and moved into capital equipment manufacturing and leasing for oil & gas, and also industrial gasses –things like cryoge

nic handling equipment for liquid nitrogen. He started the London office of an Aberdeen, U.K.-based M&A firm, before repeating that effort in New York.

Founding EIAP, Lynch and his business partner Sean Shafer have turned toward the energy transition and away from conventional energy. The firm works on the whole of decarbonization but has found the most success in the hydrogen space.

Earlier lifecycle, better valuations

Hydrogen intersects with oil& gas, nuclear, chemicals, midstream companies, and major manufacturing.

Large private equity funds that want to get into the space are realizing that if they don’t want to pay “ridiculous valuations for hydrogen companies” they must take on earlier-stage risk, Lynch said.

Interest from big private equity is therefore comparatively high for early-stage capital raising in the hydrogen sector, Lynch said, particularly where funds have the option to deploy more capital in the future, Lynch said.

“They’re willing to take that step down to what would normally be below their investment threshold.”

Lynch, who expects to launch several transactions in the coming months with EIAP, has a strong background in oil & gas, and views hydrogen valuations as a compelling opportunity now.

“It’s very refreshing to be working on stuff that’s attracting these superb valuations,” Lynch said.

There’s a lot of non-dilutive money in the market and the Inflation Reduction Act has been a major boon to investors, Lynch said. For small companies, getting a slice of the pie is potentially life changing.

Sean Shafer

The hydrogen space is not immune to the macroeconomic challenges that renewables have faced in recent months and years, Lynch said. But as those same challenges have accelerated the move toward energy security, hydrogen stands to benefit.

Supply chain issues post-COVID pose a potential long-term concern in the industry, and equity and debt providers question the availability of compressors and lead times.

“I would say that’s one of the key issues out there,” Lynch said. There’s also the question of available infrastructure and the extent to which new infrastructure will be built out for hydrogen.

EIAP sees the most convincing uses for hydrogen near term in light-weight mobility and aerospace, Lynch said. The molecule also has a strong use case in back-up generation.

Hydrogen additionally presents companies in traditional fossil fuel verticals the opportunity to modernize, Lynch said, citing a secondary trade EIAP completed earlier this year

California’s Suburban Propane Partners acquired a roughly 25% equity stake in Ashburn, Virginia-based Independence Hydrogen, Inc. The deal involved the creation of a new subsidiary, Suburban Renewable Energy, as part of its long-term strategic goal of building out a renewable energy platform.

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