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NOVA Infra and Nopetro Energy form new RNG and biofuels JV

Nopetro Renewables, a newly formed company, will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach.

NOVA Infrastructure, a middle-market infrastructure investment firm, has partnered with Nopetro Energy to create a renewable energy platform focused on renewable natural gas and biofuels, according to a news release.

Nopetro Renewables will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach. In addition to investing in the newly formed Nopetro Renewables’ platform, NOVA also has made an equity investment in Nopetro Energy.

“Our new platform, Nopetro Renewables, seeks to build and operate renewable energy infrastructure, starting with a shovel-ready landfill-gas-to-RNG project in Vero Beach,” Chris Beall, founder and managing partner of NOVA Infrastructure, said in the release.

Nopetro was founded in 2007 with the goal of displacing petroleum consumption with a cleaner, cost-effective and domestic natural gas fuel. Led by Jorge Herrera, the company has developed a strong reputation in the US southeast and currently operates 16 CNG fueling facilities where it serves government, waste, and industrial customers.

In July 2022, NOVA announced the close of its $565m Infrastructure Fund I, which attracted commitments from a diverse group of leading North American and global institutional investors including public and private pension funds, insurance companies, family offices and asset managers.

NOVA’s investment in Nopetro marks its seventh platform investment as part of Fund I and is a continuation of its strategy of targeting middle-market providers across the infrastructure landscape.

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Mitsui investment arm appoints US-based CEO

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has appointed a California-based CEO of its investment arm to oversee a $100m budget for investment in climate tech. The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments.

MOL Switch, a recently established investment arm of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, has appointed Tomoaki Ichida as CEO.

Ichida has held the position of executive officer at Mitsui O.S.K. Lines since April of last year, and was promoted to managing executive officer in conjunction with his appointment as CEO of the investment arm, according to a LinkedIn post.

MOL Switch was established earlier this year to invest in startups developing decarbonizing technologies in the energy sector. MOL Switch will invest $100m in total over the next three years.

Ichida is based in Palo Alto, California, according to LinkedIn.

MOL Switch aims to access innovation, build new networks, explore new business opportunities, and expand human capital by investing in startups developing technologies and business models that help decarbonize our group companies and society, according to a news release. MOL Switch will invest in technologies related to next-generation clean energy, carbon removal, and battery storage.

The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments, according to a presentation.

MOL Clean Energy, US, a subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, earlier this year became a JV shareholder in Ascension Clean Energy, a proposed world-scale, clean hydrogen-ammonia production and export facility in Ascension Parish.

The MOL Switch venture capital strategy mirrors its Japanese counterpart, JERA, which earlier this year launched JERA Ventures to invest $300m in start-up companies that have leading-edge technologies or business concepts and in venture capital funds that have close connections to such companies.

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H2 Green Steel evaluating North American projects

Sweden’s H2 Green Steel is evaluating projects in North America in partnership with Vale.

Swedish green steel start-up H2 Green Steel is considering projects in North America through a joint feasibility study with Vale that would enable sustainable steel production.

The company said it would explore the potential to produce low-carbon steel value chain products like green hydrogen and hot briquetted iron in industrial centers in North America as well as Brazil.

H2 Green Steel yesterday closed on a €1.5bn equity private placement co-led by new investor Hy24, together with existing investors Altor, GIC and Just Climate. The transaction also includes new investors Andra AP - fonden and Temasek as well as a group of existing investors that continue to support H2 Green Steel with additional equity funding, including AMF, Cristina Stenbeck, Hitachi Energy, IMAS Foundation, Kinnevik, Schaeffler, Vargas and Wallenberg Investments holding company FAM.

The proceeds of that transaction will finance the construction and development of H2 Green Steel’s flagship large-scale green steel plant in Boden, Sweden. Groundworks have been ongoing on the site in Boden since summer 2022, and through this transaction H2 Green Steel takes another big leap towards start of operations end of 2025.

The plant will deliver steel with up to 95 percent less CO2 emissions compared to steel produced with traditional blast furnace technology. This is made possible by replacing coal in the production process with hydrogen, produced on-site with Europe’s largest electrolyzer, using electricity from renewable sources.

Since launch in 2021, H2 Green Steel has raised more than €1.8 billion of equity in three financing rounds. The company closed its series A equity round of €86 million in May 2021 and announced the close of its series B1 round of €260mn October 2022. On the debt side, H2 Green Steel announced in 2022 the structure for its debt financing of over €3.5 billion and renewed commitment letters in July 2023.

Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc acted as sole financial advisor to H2 Green Steel in the private placement.

In the green industrial hubs, Vale is expected to build and operate briquette plants, which will feed direct reduction reactors for the production of HBI and other metallics. The number of industrial hubs that will be built, their location and production capacity will be defined following feasibility studies to be developed jointly by the two companies.

In July, Vale and H2 Green Steel also signed an agreement to supply direct reduction pellets to the Boden plant. Vale expects to reach a production capacity of 100 million tons of agglomerates (briquettes and pellets) after 2030.

“We announced early on our journey that we want to explore other geographies where we can accelerate the decarbonization of the steel value chain. Both Brazil and parts of North America have great potential due to the access to both renewable energy sources, high quality iron ore, and political willingness to support decarbonization projects and it’s a great opportunity for us to explore our partnership with Vale beyond the pellet supply to our flagship plant in Boden,” said Kajsa Ryttberg-Wallgren, EVP growth and hydrogen business of H2 Green Steel, in a news release.

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Heliogen expecting equity partners for California H2 facility

The company anticipates bringing on additional equity partners to support the project’s construction costs.

Heliogen has signed an MOU with the City of Lancaster, California to develop and provide equity for a green hydrogen generation facility there, according to a press release.

“Heliogen expects to bring on additional equity partners to support the project’s construction costs,” the release states.

The City of Lancaster will assist with site identification, review by City Council and the community as required, support for permitting process, and evaluation of economic development potential.

This relationship is expected to accelerate the use of concentrating solar thermal energy for a commercial hydrogen generation facility and builds upon the existing relationship between the City of Lancaster and Heliogen, which sited its demonstration test facility in the city in 2019.

The facility is expected to leverage Heliogen’s patented technology to use AI and advanced computer vision software to concentrate sunlight and could generate up to 1500 metric tons per year of carbon-free hydrogen.

The Heliogen facility could help support other projects within the city and region, including sustainable aviation fuel for hydrogen-powered aircraft, fueling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles, and sales and distribution of hydrogen fuel for industrial processes such as vertical agriculture, cement, and mining.

This news follows a recent announcement that Heliogen intends to develop a green hydrogen facility on leased land in the Brenda Solar Energy Zone in Arizona. The company also entered into a letter of intent with sustainable fuels-focused Dimensional Energy to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

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Exclusive: US-Ukraine battery storage firm in seed round

A US-based battery storage technology firm with operations in Ukraine and a utility-offtake pilot project in the southwestern US is in the early stages of finding institutional investors in the US and Europe.

SorbiForce, an Arizona-based battery storage technology firm, is raising $4.7m in seed funding with ambitions to find strategic investors for larger fundraising efforts in the next year, CEO Serhii Kaminskyi said in an interview.

The company, which was founded in western Ukraine and still has R&D operations there, aims to finish the seed round in five months, Kaminskyi said. Currently the US operations are housed at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation.

The batteries the company designs use little metal compared to other battery pack systems, instead using organic matter that can ultimately be biodegraded. The packs are filled with “ultra porous carbon materials” capable of storing up to 0.7 MWh.

SorbiForce is assisted by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff and Squire Patton Boggs as legal counsels, Kaminskyi said.

The seed round is for a 1 MW pilot project near Tucson, Arizona. That project has offtake contracted with Tucson Electric Power, Kaminskyi said. The B2B business model will be to sell batteries to customers in power generation, industrials, municipalities, and EV charging.

Kaminskyi, speaking from southern Italy, said the company is testing batteries in that country and has had discussions with offtakers in Germany, including automakers. The company has signed an agreement with a European energy company, he said, declining to name which.

The early-stage company is too-early for many financial investors, Kaminskyi said, and is looking for institutional investors with downstream need for battery storage.

“We’ve already received money from customers,” Kaminskyi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put strain on the company, particularly concerning the families of the company’s founding employees, Kaminskyi said. The facilities in Ukraine are safe, but he is in process of moving those facilities to Arizona.

Kaminskyi owns 56% of the company, with additional equity held by the founding scientific team and US employees, he said.

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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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US hydrogen and LNG developer raising capital

A Texas-based project developer is conducting a development capital raise for a flagship LNG and green hydrogen project in the Northeast.

New Energy Development Company, a Katy, Texas-based developer with offices in Boston, Texas, is raising between $5m and $8m for an LNG liquefaction, storage and re-gasification facility with additional green hydrogen production and storage, Partner Scott Shields said in an interview.

The company is not using a financial advisor, Shields said, noting that a larger second round capital raise will likely start near the beginning of 2024.

New Energy has secured a brownfield site for a peak-shaving LNG facility in New England with 2 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and 50 MW of solar pv, Shields said. Also planned is an expandable 40 MW PEM electrolyzer line.

He declined to name the state in which the project is located, adding that the company is trying to put a strong support system and marketing plan in place before the location is made public.

The proceeds of the capital raise will go in part to hiring local lawyers and engineering and design work (pre-FEED and FEED), through to FID, Shields said. The project will be built in two phases, Phase 1 being the LNG component and Phase 2 focusing on green hydrogen.

The LNG facility will be the offtaker for the hydrogen, which will run the plant when the solar is insufficient. Through an open season process New Energy has identified five investment grade offtakers for the LNG.

Ramping capex

“We’ve been self-funding up until now,” Shields said of New Energy, which has also put capital and development resources into half-a-dozen other projects around the country.

It’s time for a ramp up in capital expenditures and New Energy is in discussions with strategic and private equity providers, Shields said, noting that the company would prefer the former. Discussions include options to fund just the flagship project, as well as platform equity.

Shields noted that he has investment banking experience and that New Energy Managing Partner Alexander “Hap” Ellis serves as chairman of Old Westbury Funds and the George and Barbara Bush Foundation.

New Energy has partnered with McDermott International to develop patented GreenER hydrogen facilities, a modular, expandable hydrogen facility that can produce 24,000 kg per day (2,760 MMBtu) of renewable hydrogen. The companies in 2021 completed engineering deliverables for multiple designs which are marketed as ideal for grid-scale blending with natural gas pipelines, blending for existing or new power generating facilities and storage injection into salt caverns and above ground storage tanks.

The company has also combined GreenER LNG and hydrogen production and storage plants into an integrated energy hub, capable of producing an additional 200,000 MMBtu of LNG.

New Energy recently hired Chico DaFonte, formerly a vice president at Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Algonquin Power, as executive vice president working on LNG and hydrogen projects.

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