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Nikola opens second hydrogen fueling station in California

The launch is part of Nikola's plan to establish a network of up to nine refueling solutions by mid-2024, with a total of 14 operational sites slated for completion by year-end.

Nikola Corporation has opened a new HYLA high-pressure modular refueling station and facility in Southern California, according to a news release.

Situated near the Port of Long Beach at 2267 W. Gaylord St., the new station commenced operations on May 4. The launch is part of Nikola’s plan to establish a network of up to nine refueling solutions by mid-2024, with a total of 14 operational sites slated for completion by year-end including a combination of HYLA modular fuelers and partner stations such as FirstElement Fuels’ in the Port of Oakland.

The stations include round-the-clock assistance through dedicated HYLA Ambassadors and Operation Technicians, ensuring seamless and efficient fueling.

“Through the alignment with notable industry partners, Nikola is actively securing its hydrogen supply chain and expanding its HYLA refueling infrastructure to support increased demand,” the release states.

The HYLA refueling network plans to offer a diverse portfolio of refueling solutions to Nikola’s hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and other Class 8 customers, including modular and permanent HYLA stations, “behind-the-fence,” and partnerships with public truck stops. The expansion includes a recent 10-year agreement with FirstElement Fuel for a hydrogen refueling station in Oakland.

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Envusa Energy created by Anglo American and EDF

Anglo American and EDF Renewables have formed Envusa Energy to develop a regional renewable energy ecosystem in South Africa.

Anglo American and EDF Renewables have formed Envusa Energy to develop a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) in South Africa, according to a news release.

The roll-out of the RREE will serve as an energy source for the production of green hydrogen for Anglo American’s nuGen Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS) – a planned fleet of hydrogen-powered ultra-class mine haul trucks to replace diesel, supporting the development of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley.

In March the two companies signed a MOU to explore the ecosystem’s development. Envusa Energy is launching a  pipeline of more than 600 MW of wind and solar projects in South Africa – a major first step towards the development of an ecosystem that is projected to generate 3-to-5 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

This first phase of Envusa’s renewables projects is expected to be fully funded – including by attracting debt financing that is typical for high quality energy infrastructure projects – and ready for construction to begin in 2023.

Envusa is expected to supply Anglo American with a blend of renewable energy generated on Anglo American’s sites and renewable energy transmitted via the national grid. This energy portfolio approach will aggregate energy from geographically dispersed renewable generating assets and allocate this energy optimally to meet the load demand for Anglo American’s sites.

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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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Ares SPAC in merger with modular reactor developer X-energy

X-energy is cultivating advanced small modular reactor technology and proprietary fuel that can be used in applications that currently rely on fossil fuels to produce steam and heat for processes like manufacturing, petroleum refining and hydrogen production.

X Energy Reactor Company, LLC, a developer of small modular nuclear reactors and fuel technology for clean energy generation, and Ares Acquisition Corporation, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, have entered into a definitive business combination agreement, according to a news release.

The combination will establish X-energy as a publicly-traded, developer of a more advanced small modular reactor (SMR) and proprietary fuel that supports the transition to clean, affordable energy through enhanced safety, lower cost, scalability and broader industrial applications. X-energy’s entry into the public markets is expected to accelerate its growth strategy through additional investment opportunities and financial flexibility as well as differentiated sponsorship by Ares, a leading global alternative investment manager.

The business combination ascribes a pre-money equity value of approximately $2bn to X-energy. Existing X-energy equity holders will roll 100% of their existing equity interests into the combined company. In addition, the combined company will receive approximately $1bn of cash held in AAC’s trust account, assuming no redemptions by AAC shareholders.

Institutional and strategic investors have also invested or committed $120m in financing. This includes an invested private round of financing, which comprises $30m from Ares and $45m from OPG and Segra Capital Management, a leading nuclear energy-focused hedge fund, as well as an additional commitment of $45m from Ares to be invested concurrent with the closing of the transaction. X-energy also received approximately $58m of interim financing throughout 2022 from existing strategic investors, including Dow and Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

X-energy is advancing nuclear energy generation through its latest-generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, the Xe-100, and its proprietary tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) encapsulated particle fuel, TRISO-X. Representing the next stage in the evolution of nuclear energy technology, the pioneering design of the Xe-100 couples its scalability, innovative modularity, enhanced safety and higher temperature capabilities with decades of HTGR research and operating experience. The Xe-100 can also uniquely address a broader range of uses and applications compared with conventional nuclear reactors. This specifically includes applications that currently rely on fossil fuels to produce steam and heat for processes like manufacturing, petroleum refining and hydrogen production.

The Xe-100 is engineered to operate as a single 80-megawatt (MWe) unit and is optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MWe. With load-following capabilities, the Xe-100 can support intermittent renewable (solar and wind) and other clean energy options with reliable baseload generation.

Guggenheim Securities, LLC is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is acting as legal advisor to X-energy.

Moelis & Company LLC is acting as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is acting as legal advisor to AAC.

Ocean Tomo, a part of J.S. Held, acted as financial advisor to the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of AAC.

UBS Securities LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. are serving as capital markets advisors to AAC and Ropes & Gray LLP is acting as legal advisor to the capital markets advisors.

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US hydrogen developer to raise $1bn in 2023

Avina Clean Hydrogen will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina Clean Hydrogen, a U.S.-based developer of hydrogen production plants, will seek to raise approximately $1bn, or possibly more, in 2023, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The company will need $600m or more of debt and between $200m and $300m of equity, Shah said. Capital raising talks are focused on the operating company and project level.

Avina is also in discussions with potential investment bankers, but has not hired anyone yet, Shah said.

“The capital needs for us are going to continue to grow,” Shah said. “We are certainly open to bringing on additional partners.”

Four development projects have offtake agreements in place, Shah said. The first operational plant will open in Southern California next year or early 2024, followed by Avina’s 700,000 mtpa green ammonia project in the Texas Gulf Coast. Additional projects are underway in the Midwest.

Three of those projects, each with offtakers in place, will reach FID in 2023 and need project debt, Shah said.

Avina is engaged with half-a-dozen potential customers and will seek to develop additional projects within that existing footprint.

Renewable energy procurement is also an important concern for Avina; the Texas project alone will require 900 MW of renewable energy to power, Shah said. The company is in offtake discussions with regional IPPs, mostly in solar and battery storage, but could use help with those agreements. Shah declined to name the firm’s legal advisor.

Avina was founded more than three years ago and is principally backed by Hydrogen Technology Ventures, a firm headed by Shah.

An equity raise was completed in early Q4, Shah said, declining to provide details. The company has a “large industrial firm” as a strategic investor that it hopes to announce soon. Looking forward, the company will look for a second strategic investor, as well as project finance.

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Exclusive: Carbon capture firm raising $1.2bn for ammonia facility

A carbon capture and technology firm is conducting a FEED study for a blue ammonia facility it expects will cost some $1.2bn in traditional project finance. The company also has a pipeline of biomass-to-electricity (or “biome”) projects in the works.

8 Rivers Capital, the North Carolina-based carbon capture and technology firm backed by South Korea’s SK, Inc., is planning to raise some $1.2bn for its first ammonia production facility in Texas, Chief Development Officer Damian Beauchamp said in an interview.

The firm is conducting a FEED study for its Cormorant blue ammonia facility in Port Arthur, Texas, which will be finished in October, Beauchamp said. The firm is not using a financial advisor.

The money will be raised in a 30/70 split between equity and debt, he said. SK will take 100% of the facility’s production. 8 Rivers anticipates bringing the facility online in 2027 or 2028.

The company will seek to maintain significant ownership in its ammonia facilities. Once the FEED is finished on one the firm will start another until the company has completed between 10 and 20 of these facilities, Beauchamp said.

“We have the ambition to dominate the ammonia/zero carbon fuels space,” Beauchamp said.

‘BIOME’

In a new vertical start of electricity generation production, 8 Rivers is now scouting locations to develop its first biomass-to-electricity generation facilities in the US, Beauchamp said.

The projects, referred to as “biome” by the firm, will use forestry biomass as a feedstock in plants up to 250 MW in size. Unlike ammonia, 8 Rivers will not seek to keep ownership in an IPP play, but rather solicit co-investment from utility and industrial offtakers.

The southeastern US is a region of particular interest, Beauchamp said, because of a long growing season, the abundance of feedstock from timber, lumber and paper product producers, and proximity to existing CO2 management and transport infrastructure.

“That’s our general focus area for that first project,” he said of the deep south of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

The strategy is to take on strategic ownership partners – utilities and industrial powers users — as early as possible to finance development, he said. Large entities, including foreign utilities, could also take ownership interest in projects, not dissimilar from investment in LNG facilities.

Projects will likely cost $1bn and up, and the firm anticipates having the first progressing in earnest by 2029. Eventually 8 Rivers seeks to develop a portfolio of four or five of these projects at 250 MW each along with additional projects of a smaller size, Beauchamp said.

The first project should also be able to sell 2.7m tonnes of carbon credits per annum, Beauchamp said.

8 Rivers’ Calcite technology was announced as a winner of the Department of Energy’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hub grant, as an anchor technology in the Alabama regional DAC hub led by Southern States Energy Board.

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Mitsubishi laying groundwork for additional equity raise

Mitsubishi Power Americas and its JV partners are preparing to raise additional equity for the ACES Delta project in Utah, as well as for other hydrogen developments in the Americas.

Mitsubishi Power Americas is conferring with its financial partners to raise equity from existing investors in the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) Delta green hydrogen project in Utah, Senior Vice President, Investment and Business Development Ricky Sakai said in an interview.

Haddington Ventures formed Haddington ESP I and raised $650m in June 2022 from institutional investors to fund projects developed by ACES Delta, which is a joint venture between Mitsubishi Power Americas and Haddington portfolio company Magnum Development.

The investors — AIMCo, GIC, Manulife Financial Corporation, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board — have additional rights to increase their collective investment to $1.5bn, according to a press release announcing the deal.

The first phase of the project in Utah will be to produce 100 tons of hydrogen per day. Once that is complete, existing investors can scale up their investment, Sakai said.

ACES Delta rendering

Mitsubishi is involved in several regional hydrogen hubs applying for funding from the US Department of Energy.

Hydrogen capable

Depending on how that $7bn is ultimately allocated, Mitsubishi is interested in replicating the Utah project in other regions, a source familiar with the company said.

MPA and Magnum recently closed on a $504.4m loan guarantee from the DOE for ACES Delta, electrolyzers for which will be supplied by Norway-based HydrogenPro.

ACES Delta will support the Intermountain Power Agency’s IPP Renewed Project — upgrading to an 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant using Mitsubishi’s M501JAC gas turbines. The plant will initially run on a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas starting in 2025 and incrementally expand to 100% green hydrogen by 2045.

Mitsubishi is also supplying the hydrogen-capable gas turbines to Entergy’s Orange County Advanced Power Station; to an Alberta coal plant owned by Capital Power; and to J-Power’s Jackson Generation Project in Illinois, which reached commercial operations last year.

Mitsubishi Power

Investing in startups

Mitsubishi is doubling down on a strategy of investing in startup producers and technology in renewable fuels, Sakai said.

Recent investments in the space include: C-Zero, a drop-in decarbonization tech startup in California; Cemvita Factory, a Houston-based synthetic biology firm focused on the decarbonization of heavy industries; Infinium, an electrofuels company innovator in California forming decarbonization solutions for industries in Japan; and Starfire Energy, a modular green ammonia solution provider in Denver.

Series A and Series B valuations for US companies are much higher now than they were a few years ago, Sakai said. Still, the US is the leading climate tech startup ecosystem in the world and provides rich opportunity for capital deployment, Sakai said. Biofuels, SAF and waste-to-energy are leading sectors for MHI investment moving forward.

“We have several hundred of these in the pipeline that we are looking at right now,” he said. “In the next few years, we will increase the number of these portfolio companies.”

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