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Nikola names new CFO

Nikola has named Anastisiya Pasterick as its new CFO. She replaces outgoing CFO Kim J. Brady, who is retiring.

Nikola Corporation, a global supplier of zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions, today announced that CFO Kim J. Brady will retire as effective April 7, 2023, according to a news release.

Anastasiya “Stasy” Pasterick, who is currently serving as Nikola’s vice president, corporate controller, will succeed Brady as the company’s new CFO. Brady will remain employed with Nikola through April 28, 2023, as a non-executive officer in an advisory capacity to support the transition.

As CFO, Pasterick will be responsible for leading Nikola’s finance and accounting team, including investor relations, strategic finance, and treasury.

Pasterick started her career at KPMG LLP where she worked in audit for seven years, serving a diverse portfolio of clients in the automotive and technology sectors from pre-revenue start-ups to global multi-billion-dollar corporations, according to the release. Prior to joining Nikola in 2019, Pasterick held several financial leadership positions at OEM manufacturing firms including Director of Accounting Operations at Erickson, Inc., and Corporate Controller at nLIGHT, Inc., where she led all financial aspects of the company’s IPO.

At Nikola, Pasterick was key in executing the organization’s SPAC merger in 2020 and has been responsible for the overall financial operations of the company including accounting, reporting, transactional finance, and manufacturing finance. She has established Nikola’s accounting and reporting infrastructure as a new public company and has been instrumental in scaling the organization’s financial operations through entering commercial production.

“Stasy’s proven financial acumen and attention to detail are the capabilities the company needs now as we build on the momentum surrounding the unveiling of our new energy brand, HYLA, the commercialization of our Class 8 battery-electric truck, and the pending production of our Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell vehicle,” said Michael Lohscheller, Nikola Corporation president and CEO. “We are grateful to Kim for his leadership and dedication to the company for the past five years. He led the organization’s early rounds of funding and was instrumental in taking the company public and shaping its strategy. We sincerely wish him all the very best as he embarks on a new and exciting chapter in his life.”

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Hydrogen investors like patents, IEA says

More than half of the USD 10bn of venture capital investment into hydrogen firms in 2011-2020 went to start-ups with patents, according to an IEA study.

More than half of the USD 10bn of venture capital investment into hydrogen firms in 2011-2020 went to start-ups with patents, according to a joint study of patents by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Start-ups with patents represented less than a third of companies in the report’s data set, according to a news release summarizing the findings.

The study found that holding a patent is also a good indicator of whether a start-up will keep attracting finance, noting that “more than 80% of late-stage investment in hydrogen start-ups in 2011-2020 went to companies that had already filed a patent application in areas such as electrolysis, fuel cells, or low-emissions methods for producing hydrogen from gas.”

The percentage increases to 95% when funding acquired in the IPO/post-IPO stage is taken into consideration.

Overall, the report found that hydrogen technology development is shifting towards low-emissions solutions such as electrolysis. Global patenting in hydrogen is led by the European Union and Japan, which account for 28% and 24% respectively of all IPFs filed in this period, with significant growth in the past decade. The leading countries in Europe are Germany (11% of the global total), France (6%), and the Netherlands (3%).

The United States, with 20% of all hydrogen-related patents, is the only major innovation center where international hydrogen patent applications declined in the past decade. International patenting activity in hydrogen technologies remained modest in South Korea and China but is on the rise. In addition to these five main innovation centers, other countries generating significant volumes of hydrogen patents include the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada.

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Chemours investing $200m in advanced materials for electrolysis

The Chemours Company will invest USD 200m to increase capacity and advance technology for its Nafion ion exchange materials to support the hydrogen economy.

The Chemours Company will invest $200m to increase capacity and advance technology for its Nafion ion exchange materials to support the hydrogen economy, according to a news release.

Chemours’ investment will support growing market demand for clean hydrogen generation using water electrolyzers, energy storage in flow batteries, and hydrogen conversion to power fuel cell vehicles of the future, the release states.

The investment will focus on the Nafion ion exchange materials technology platform, whose chemical properties can help generate clean hydrogen from water electrolysis. Nafion proton exchange membranes are used in fuel cells to convert hydrogen to power instantly, making fleets of zero-emission fuel cell-powered trucks, buses, trains, and cars a reality. The materials enable flow batteries to store excess renewable energy and convert it back to electricity, helping to solve the challenge of renewable power intermittency.

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Raven SR raises $20m from strategic investors

Wyoming-based renewable fuels company Raven SR has closed a USD 20m strategic investment.

Wyoming-based renewable fuels company Raven SR has closed a $20m strategic investment, according to a press release.

Chevron U.S.A., ITOCHU Corporation, Hyzon Motors Inc. and Ascent Hydrogen Fund participated. Raven SR plans to build modular waste-to-green hydrogen production units and renewable synthetic fuel facilities initially in California and then worldwide.

Raven SR’s Steam/CO2 Reformation process involves no combustion, unlike incineration or gasification. The company’s process can also produce other renewable energy products such as synthetic liquid fuels (diesel, Jet A, mil-spec JP-8), additives and solvents (such as acetone, butanol, and naphtha) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The investment follows an agreement between Raven and Hyzon Motors to build up to 250 hydrogen production facilities across the United States and globally. Hyzon Motors, with US operations based in Rochester, New York, is a supplier of fuel cell-powered commercial vehicles.

Raven SR’s first renewable fuel production facilities will be built at landfills and will produce fuel for Northern California hydrogen fuel stations and for Hyzon’s hydrogen hubs. These initial facilities are expected to process approximately 200 tons of organic waste daily, yielding green hydrogen and producing on-site energy.

Raven SR’s production units are modular. In addition to landfills, they can also be placed at wastewater treatment plants and agriculture sites.

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Government money still top of mind for early movers in US hydrogen

Gaining access to funding from government and other agency sources is top of mind for many developers seeking to de-risk their projects and reach FID. But only hydrogen, ammonia, and other clean fuels projects exhibiting “the best in the business” are garnering support from government financing agencies and commercial lenders, experts say.

The US Department of Energy came out this week with the news that it was not yet ready to release the long-awaited winners of its $8bn hydrogen hubs funding opportunity, as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm noted Monday at the Hydrogen Americas Summit in Washington, DC.

The delay disappointed many in the industry, who are also waiting for crucial guidance from the IRS on rules for clean hydrogen tax credits.

Gaining access to funding from government and other agency sources is top of mind for many developers seeking to de-risk their projects and reach FID. But only hydrogen, ammonia, and other clean fuels projects exhibiting “the best in the business” are garnering support from government financing agencies and commercial lenders.

Speakers on a financing panel at the summit yesterday pointed to the successful FID of the Air Products-backed NEOM green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia as an effective project finance model, where major sponsors working together helped to de-risk the proposal and attract support from export credit agencies and global banks.

In the US, large players like ExxonMobil (Hydrogen Liftoff Hub), NextEra (Southeast Hydrogen Network), and Chevron (ACES Delta) have applied for DOE hydrogen hubs funding, according to the results of a FOIA request, joining major utilities and other oil and gas companies like bp and Linde in the running for funds.

In addition to inadequate regulatory guidance, some developers have already started grumbling that the proposed government assistance will not be enough to meet the scale of decarbonization needs. And the nascent clean fuels project finance market still needs to sift through techno-economic challenges in order to reach its potential, according to comments made yesterday on a panel called Financing Clean Hydrogen.

Leopoldo Gomez, a vice president of global infrastructure finance at Citi, sees a big role for the project finance framework for hydrogen facilities undertaken by independent project developers as well as strategics looking to strike the appropriate risk allocation for new projects.

And Michael Mudd, a director on BofA’s global sustainable finance team, said hydrogen projects are similar in many ways to established facilities like power and LNG, but with additional complexities, like understanding the impact of intermittent power and how to appropriately scale technologies.

Credibility

This year, Pennsylvania-based Air Products along with ACWA Power and NEOM Company finalized and signed an $8.5bn financing agreement for NEOM the project, which will build 4 GW of renewables powering production of up to 600 tons per day of hydrogen. The National Development Fund and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund kicked in a total of $2.75bn for the project, with the balance covered by a consortium of 23 global lenders.

“It is very important from the financing side to make sure the parties that are at the table are the best in the business, and that’s what we’re seeing with the projects that are able to receive either commitments from the DOE Loan Programs office or from commercial lenders and export credit agencies,” Gomez said.

Highly credible engineering firms are also critical to advance projects, and the EPCs themselves might still need to get comfortable integrating new technologies that add more complexity to projects when compared to power generation or LNG projects.

“The bottom line is that having someone that’s very credible to execute a complex project that involves electrolyzers or carbon capture or new renewable power generation within the parameters of the transaction” is critical for providing risk mitigation for the benefit of investors, Gomez added.

Funding sources

Additional funding sources are intended to be made available for clean fuels projects as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the panelists said.

Most notably, tax credit transferability and the credits in section 45Q for carbon capture and sequestration and 45V for clean hydrogen are available on a long-term basis and as a direct-pay option, which would open up cash flows for developers.

“If you can use [tax credit transfers] as a contract, you can essentially monetize the tax credits in the form of debt and equity,” Mudd said. And if a highly rated corporate entity is the counterparty on the tax transfer, he added, the corporate rating of the buyer can be used to leverage the project for developers that don’t have the tax capacity.

Still, section 45V is potentially the most complex tax credit the market has ever seen, requiring a multi-layer analysis, according to Gomez, who advised patience among developers as prospective lenders evaluate the potential revenue streams from the tax credit market.

“First and foremost we’ll be looking at cash flows driven by the offtake contract, but it will be highly likely that lenders can take a view on […] underwriting 10 years of 45V at a given amount,” Gomez added.

Crucial guidance on how to conduct a lifecycle emissions analysis is still outstanding, however, making it difficult to bring all project parties to the table, according to Shannon Angielski, a principal at law and government relations firm Van Ness Feldman.

“It’s going to hinge on how the lifecycle analyses are conducted and how you have some transparency across states and borders” regarding the potential for a green premium on clean hydrogen, she added.

Agency support

In Canada, the Varennes Carbon Recycling plant in Quebec has received CAD 770m of provincial and federal support, primarily from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the province of Quebec, noted Amendeep Garcha of Natural Resources Canada.

Around CAD 500m of funding from the Canada Infrastructure bank is also going to support hydrogen refueling infrastructure, Garcha said, with the aim of establishing a hydrogen highway that will form the basis of the hydrogen ecosystem in Quebec.

Pierre Audinet, lead energy specialist from World Bank Group, noted how the international development agency was stepping in to provide support for projects that might otherwise not get off the ground.

“In the world where I work, we face a lot of scarcity of capital,” he noted, adding that the World Bank has backed the implementation of clean fuels policies in India with a $1.5bn loan.

Additionally, the World Bank has supported a $150m project in Chile, providing insurance and capital for a financing facility that will reduce the costs of electrolyzers. Chile, while it benefits from sun and wind resources, said Audinet, is less competitive when it comes to transportation given its geographic location.

The agency is also working to help the local government in the Northeastern Brazil port of Pecem. Shared infrastructure at the port will help reduce risks for investors who have taken a stake in the port facilities, Audinet said.

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Solar-powered hydrogen producer raising capital for EU and US growth

A European JV developing off-grid hydrogen production units using concentrated solar power – “white hydrogen” – plans to raise capital for growth in Europe and the US.

hysun, a Spanish JV between European firms Nanogap and Tewer Engineering, will raise $15m over three years for its first industrial plant and commercialization by 2026, CEO and Co-founder Tatiana Lopez said in an interview.

hysun has not engaged a financial advisor to date, but is open to meetings, Lopez said.

The new venture, formed in November, has raised $2m and is actively seeking another $3m (pre-money valuation of $10m) equity for a100 g H2/h prototype to close by the end of the year.

The company will then need $4m for an industrial plant, locations for which are being scouted now in the US and Europe. After that, the founders intend to enter a commercialization phase.

hysun’s intellectual property allows it to produce off-grid “white hydrogen” via steam generated with concentrated solar technology, Lopez said. The lack of electrolyzers means about eight times less land is needed to generate projects as large as 200 MW assuming 2,500 hours of sunlight per year.

“You don’t need to be next to a wind farm or solar plant,” Lopez said, adding that the hydrogen is produced at $1 per kilo.

Average project sizes range between 50 and 100 tonnes per year, assuming the same amount of sunlight, though the technology is applicable on a micro scale. The company sees the end uses being for ammonia production, replacement of grey hydrogen in industry and remote location deployment.

Lopez said the company is interested in growing in the US and Europe but believes the US will develop its industry faster.

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RNG developer selling landfill gas portfolio

A Texas-based renewable natural gas developer has tapped an advisor and is selling a portfolio of waste-to-energy projects.

Morrow Energy, an RNG developer based in Midland, Texas, is working with a financial advisor to sell off a portfolio of waste-to-energy projects.

Sparkstone Capital Advisors, a boutique advisory firm based in Virginia, is the sellside advisor on the sale, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Morrow and Sparkstone did not respond to requests for comment.

The Morrow portfolio in the US consists of 12 projects in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, and Washington, according to its website.

Of note, Morrow has developed the Blue Ridge Landfill High BTU project, which is designed for up to 13,000 SCFM of raw landfill gas and can be expanded to up to 30,000 SCFM. Gas from the facility is sold and delivered to vehicle fuel markets in the US.

The company is led by Paul Morrow, its founder and president, who has worked in the RNG industry for over 20 years. Morrow Energy built its first renewable gas facility in the year 2000.

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