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NW Natural and Hycamite to explore clean hydrogen production in Oregon

Within NW Natural's service territory, large natural gas customers could develop facilities that use Hycamite's novel methane-splitting technology to deliver low-carbon hydrogen.

NW Natural, Oregon’s largest gas utility, and Kokkola, Finland-based Hycamite TCD Technologies have signed a letter of intent to explore applications for Hycamite’s novel methane pyrolysis technology to produce and distribute clean hydrogen, the companies said in a news release.

Within NW Natural’s service territory, large natural gas customers could develop facilities that use Hycamite’s novel methane-splitting technology to deliver low-carbon (turquoise) hydrogen to supplement or replace natural gas usage. Hycamite would install, commission, operate and maintain the methane pyrolysis units while NW Natural would deliver the natural gas feedstock used to produce hydrogen.

“We want to help a variety of industrial customers to decarbonize their production cost-efficiently, and we are ready to scale up the production in North America swiftly,” says Hycamite CEO Laura Rahikka. “We look forward to working with NW Natural to develop opportunities with the utility and its largest natural gas customers.”

Low carbon fuels such as clean hydrogen play an essential role in NW Natural’s long-term decarbonization plans, the release notes. “We’re excited about the potential to lower emissions with clean hydrogen, and we look forward to exploring opportunities for Hycamite’s technology to help deliver carbon reductions for us and our customers,” said Chris Kroeker, NW Natural’s business development lead for hydrogen and carbon capture.

About the technology

Hycamite’s technology helps decarbonize industrial by providing low-carbon (turquoise) hydrogen and sustainable carbon products for demanding industrial applications. Hycamite’s technology decomposes large volumes of methane into its component elements– hydrogen and carbon—while avoiding the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Clean hydrogen can be used as either an industrial raw material or fuel. The company’s technology requires only 13% of the energy needed to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. Using a methane feedstock (from geologic natural gas, biomethane or synthetic natural gas) allows production to scale up rapidly.

Hycamite’s technology is a cutting-edge carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology. Hycamite captures the carbon in a solid form and provides it to customers as nanocarbon and other industrial-quality products. The carbon byproducts are based on electrically conductive carbon nanoproducts, making them ideal for such applications as battery production, supercapacitors, electronics, additives in polymers and composite materials, and concrete manufacturing.

Furthermore, Hycamite’s catalysts are sustainable, according to the release.

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Fortescue and Tree Energy to develop global H2 network

Fortescue will make an investment of EUR 30m in TES and EUR 100m in a German import terminal.

Fortescue Future Industries and Tree Energy Solutions have agreed to develop the world’s largest green hydrogen integrated project in Europe.

The first phase of this partnership is to jointly develop and invest in the supply of 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen with final locations being currently agreed. The target for a Final Investment Decision (FID) is in 2023.

FFI and TES have agreed terms for FFI to make an equity investment of EUR 30m to become a strategic shareholder in TES and to invest EUR 100m for a significant stake in the construction of the TES import terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

First deliveries of green hydrogen into the TES terminal in Wilhelmshaven are expected to take place in 2026.

FFI joins a group of international strategic investors in TES, including E.ON, HSBC, UniCredit, and Zodiac Maritime.

The two companies plan to develop industrial scale green hydrogen production globally with an initial focus on Australia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. They also plan to develop large-scale renewable energy generation, using TES’s business model and access to the European green hydrogen market.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection recently selected TES to jointly develop and implement Germany’s fifth Floating Storage Regasification Unit in Wilhelmshaven. In parallel, the TES terminal will serve as the primary entry point for energy in Europe. TES will import hydrogen in the form of renewable natural gas.

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Cryo storage tech startup completes strategic fundraise

The new funding will enable Verne to accelerate development of their cryo-compressed hydrogen technology for on-board hydrogen storage for heavy-duty vehicles.

Verne, a developer of high-density hydrogen storage systems, has completed a strategic fundraise led by Trucks Venture Capital, with participation from existing investors Collaborative Fund and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and new investors United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund and Newlab.

The new funding will enable Verne to accelerate development of their cryo-compressed hydrogen (CcH2) technology for on-board hydrogen storage for heavy-duty vehicles. The investment brings Verne’s total funding to $15.5m including grant funding, according to a news release.

Heavy-duty transportation is responsible for 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Regulations such as California’s Advanced Clean Fleets and corporate “net zero” commitments necessitate a transition to zero-emission vehicles. However, large energy requirements and the importance of total cost of ownership make it difficult for fleets to transition from diesel to zero-emission technologies that currently involve costly performance tradeoffs. Existing Class 8 Battery Electric trucks provide limited range (~200 miles vs. 1,000 miles for a diesel truck), weigh 5,000–10,000 pounds more than a diesel truck (reducing payload available to haul cargo by 5-15%), and take over two hours to refuel. Hydrogen is the best solution to decarbonize vehicles that need to travel long distances or carry a heavy payload as it provides range, weight, and refueling advantages over battery electric trucks, but current hydrogen trucks still fall short of diesel-truck performance.

Since its founding in 2020, Verne has been dedicated to solving this challenge by developing high-density hydrogen storage that allows these vehicles to reach diesel-equivalent range and payload. Verne’s cryo-compressed hydrogen technology involves cooling and compressing hydrogen to achieve the maximum hydrogen density at 73 g/L internal density, a 33% improvement over liquid hydrogen and an 87% improvement over traditional 700 bar compressed gas hydrogen. The increased density leads to greater range and payload: Verne’s technology enables semi-trucks to achieve diesel-equivalent range, or over 900 miles, without adding any weight to the system.

“Verne’s technology will have a direct positive impact on commercial vehicles on road and in the air. High-density hydrogen is a powerful solution for large vehicles and aligns with our mission of backing the most aggressive climate-positive ideas for transportation,” said Jeffrey Schox, general partner at Trucks Venture Capital.

“Amazon views cryo-compression as a promising hydrogen storage solution,” said Nick Ellis, a principal at Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund. “We believe cryo-compression can provide economic and operational advantages that will play an important role in the transition to zero-emission fleets.”

“Heavy-duty vehicles like semi-trucks and cargo handling equipment are vital to the functioning of our economy, but they are also some of the worst polluters. Verne is motivated to provide zero-emission solutions that don’t require these critical industries to make costly performance trade-offs,” said Ted McKlveen, co-founder & CEO of Verne. “Bringing on new strategic investors, and strengthening our partnership with existing investors, will help us accelerate our path to market and decarbonize this critical industry.”

Last year, Verne announced a CcHstorage record during stationary demonstration of a 29 kg storage tank at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Verne also completed the first testing of their CcH2 storage system on-board a vehicle as part of their participation in the Breakthrough Energy Fellows program. This on-vehicle testing validated the performance of all sub-systems – including direct integration with the vehicles’ fuel cell – and confirmed the improved hydrogen density relative to the standard 700 bar compressed gas hydrogen storage method. These technical results prepare Verne to meet the significant commercial interest they are receiving from key trucking fleets and OEMs, as well as leading partners across aviation, ports, mining and hydrogen distribution & refueling.

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LSB Industries pushing blue over green

LSB executives said they have paused a green ammonia project due to expected capital costs and a lack of clarity on tax credit incentives. But they detailed plans for a blue ammonia facility, including spending some $150m of cash over three years to fund their equity portion of the project, which was recently proposed for the Houston Ship Channel.

US ammonia producer LSB Industries sees market forces working in favor of blue ammonia projects versus green ammonia, and is prioritizing its blue projects while pausing a green ammonia facility planned for Pryor, Oklahoma.

Executives yesterday pointed to lower natural gas prices and an uptick in power prices along with missing guidance from the US Treasury for green molecules as the reason for pausing the green ammonia project.

Oklahoma-based LSB will use a project financing structure to fund its proposed blue ammonia plant in the Houston Ship Channel and likely find initial offtakers among Japanese and Korean power companies, CEO Mark Behrman said.

The facility, which would produce approximately 1.1 million metric tons of ammonia and capture and sequester 1.6 million metric tons of CO2 annually, is currently in the pre-FEED phase and planned for construction on the Vopak Moda Houston Ship Shuttle Ammonia Terminal.

“We selected the supplier of the technology license basic, engineering design, proprietary equipment, and catalyst, and we are in negotiations to finalize the related agreements,” Behrman said in prepared remarks. “In addition to engineering and design activities, we are working to secure offtake customers for the anticipated ammonia production. We expect initial offtakers to be Japanese and South Korean power companies.”

LSB is developing the facility in partnership with INPEX, Japan’s largest E&P company, and plans to build and operate an ammonia synthesis loop using low-carbon hydrogen produced by Air Liquide, who will also handle the carbon capture and sequestration as well as the nitrogen supply.

Based on LSB’s feasibility study, the cost of the project would come in between $500m and $750m, Behrman said, which could conservatively be financed with 60% debt, and, when taking the $750m figure, would amount to $450m of debt and $300m of equity to fund the facility.

“And for simplicity purposes, we haven’t worked out the ownership structure quite yet,” Behrman said, “but assuming that LSB and INPEX [have] 50/50 ownership of the loop that would be $150m of cash from LSB over a three-year period.”

The pre-FEED phase will last until 2Q24 followed by a one-year FEED period that would finish in 2Q25, he said.

“Within the time of us executing on a FEED study, we would expect that we would have negotiated take-or-pay contracts with the federal government, Japanese and Korean and potentially European and U.S. off-takers for the ammonia that we would produce,” Behrman said. “At the end of FEED, we would have to make a decision on whether we’re moving forward, so FID, and we would not move forward without take-or-pay contracts.”

Green ammonia pause

Meanwhile LSB has paused its green ammonia project, “given the uncertainty around the 45 tax credits, combined with the project’s current capital costs,” Behrman said.

He added: “We remain excited about this project and our opportunity to be an early entrant into the production of green ammonia and we continue to have discussions with potential offtakers for green ammonia supply, but we need clarity and finalization of the 45V tax credits before we can make a decision to move forward.”

Natural gas prices have decreased in the US while electricity prices have increased, working in favor of natural gas products.

“That then is a considerable headwind for the build-out of industry based on sourcing power from the grid, which includes green ammonia production,” he said.

“This development is also why we believe the path to blue ammonia is much easier than the path of green ammonia today, especially considering the lack of a green premium favoring production economics,” the executive said. “Therefore, our current focus is on making sure we execute effectively on our El Dorado blue ammonia project and our Houston Ship Channel blue ammonia project as they both set us up well for the future.”

At El Dorado, LSB is in discussions with the EPA for a Class V carbon capture and sequestration permit, and expects to commence production at the plant in 2H25.

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New clean fuels firm takes first external financing

A clean fuels startup aiming to provide turnkey decarbonization solutions will be in the market for additional capital shortly.

Elemental Clean Fuels has closed on its first round of external financing from investors Piney Point Capital and Fusion Fuel Green plc, according to a company spokesperson.

The money will be used to build out the company’s pipeline and add new projects, which it plans to develop, own and operate. Clean fuels would be produced from renewables via electrolysis, followed by storage and transportation solutions, according to the company’s website.

Capital investment provided by Piney Point will be utilized by ECF to further develop its existing decarbonization portfolio in North America, as well as to expand its internal capabilities and add additional project assets (including the projects contributed by Fusion Fuel), according to a news release.

ECF is a business venture of CEO Zach Steele and CFO Jason Baran, former executives of Fusion Fuel who have executed and managed over $3bn in development projects in North America. They are joined by CDO Jeff Crone, a former vice president of engineering and construction services at Buckeye Partners.

In parallel, Fusion Fuel has also entered into a strategic technology partnership with Elemental, granting Fusion Fuel the right to bid on all PEM-based green hydrogen projects in Elemental’s North American pipeline for a period of three years, according to a release from Fusion Fuel.

Elemental has approximately 40 MW in pre-feasibility projects within its pipeline and is currently collaborating with Fusion Fuel on a feasibility study for a 2 MW green hydrogen project for a state utility to be delivered in 2024. This partnership will provide Fusion Fuel with exposure to the emerging North American green hydrogen market, whilst enabling the company to focus its near-term commercial efforts on the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Europe.

“We are extremely excited to have Piney Point as a partner as we progress our mission to drive growth in the emerging clean fuels market,” said Steele. “With investments in a broad range of companies across the energy transition, they are uniquely positioned to provide strategic partnerships and additional access across the value chain to drive scale.  Piney Point’s investment and expertise will accelerate the growth of our Company in the mobility and heavy industry sectors throughout North America.  We are also excited and optimistic about continued collaboration with Fusion Fuel going forward.”

“As investors, Piney Point Capital recognizes the immense potential of ECF in revolutionizing the clean fuel landscape. We believe in the vision and capabilities of the ECF team, and we are committed to supporting their mission to accelerate decarbonization through innovative projects and strategic partnerships across North America,” said Mike Keough, managing partner Piney Point Capital, a subsidiary of Racon Capital.

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Exclusive: National RNG developer in equity sale process

A large US developer and operator of renewable natural gas projects has tapped an advisor and is in the early stages of a sale process.

DTE Vantage, a developer of renewable energy projects with a national footprint in the US, is in the first round of a process to sell its RNG business, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Lazard is running the process, the sources said. First round bids were recently received.

The company’s RNG portfolio includes 13 projects, four of which are landfill-to-gas while the remainder are on dairy farms, with more under construction, according to company materials. One of the largest RNG producers in the Midwest, the company also has projects in North Carolina, California, New York, and Wisconsin.

Of note, the Riverview Energy landfill gas asset in Riverview, Michigan produces 8.6 mmcfd of pipeline natural gas and includes 6.6 MW of solar. Pinnacle Gas in Moraine, Ohio, produces 4.5 mmcfd, while Seabreeze Energy in Angleton, Texas produces 5.8 mmcfd.

DTE Vantage is a non-utility subsidiary of DTE Energy. Founded in the 1990s, it has about 600 employees and operates 64 projects in 16 US states, with one asset in Canada. The company serves industrial, agricultural, and institutional clients across three core groups: Renewable Energy, Custom Energy Solutions, and Emerging Ventures.

DTE declined to comment. Lazard did not respond to a request for comment.

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Exclusive: Midwest renewables developer launches capital raise

A Midwest renewables developer has launched a $340m capital raise for a wind-to-hydrogen operation in the US heartland.

Zero6, the Minneapolis-based renewables developer, owner and operator, recently launched a process to raise $340m in project capital for its portion of the Lake Preston Biofuels Project in South Dakota, senior managing director Howard Stern said in an interview. The company, previously known as Juhl Energy, is partnered with Colorado-based Gevo, which plans to produce SAF on 240 acres at Lake Preston in a project dubbed Net-Zero 1. Zero6 will develop 20 MW of green hydrogen production adjacent to Net-Zero 1 powered by a 99 MW wind farm located 10 miles from the SAF site, Stern said. Plans call for FID late this year, he said. Zero6 met with several financial advisors for the raise, but decided to try and conduct it in-house, Stern said. The company has not ruled out help from an advisor for this raise and could need those services in the future. The goal is to have an anchor investor in place by May, Stern said. The company is open to strategic or financial investors. Zero6’s strategy is akin to a traditional private equity play, holding a project for five to ten years of operation, Stern said. That could change depending on new investors’ outlook. According to the ReSource database, Gevo has additional projects in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Stern said Zero6 sees opportunities to replicate the Lake Preston strategy in other parts of the country. The Lake Preston project has been tied to the development of carbon capture pipelines through South Dakota, namely the Summit Carbon Solutions CO2 pipeline. Gevo officials have made public comments noting that if the Summit pipeline does not get built, it would disadvantage the Lake Preston project on the basis of its carbon intensity score, and the company may seek options elsewhere.
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