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NY awards $12.7m to three hydrogen projects

Governor Kathy Hochul has awarded USD 16.6m for five long duration energy storage projects, including USD 12.7m for three hydrogen plans.

Governor Kathy Hochul has awarded USD 16.6m for five long duration energy storage projects, including USD 12.7m for three hydrogen plans.

The Governor also said that an additional USD 17m in competitive funding is available for projects that advance development and demonstration of scalable innovative long duration energy storage technologies, according to a press release.

The projects will support the current Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to install 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030 while facilitating further development to 6,000 MW.

The USD 12.7m in awards will support the following hydrogen projects:

  • Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, LLC- USD 12.5m – To demonstrate nuclear-hydrogen fueled peak power generation paired with a long duration hydrogen energy storage unit to help reduce emissions from the New York Independent System Operator electric grid.
  • Power to Hydrogen – USD 100,000 – To develop a Reversible Fuel Cell System for Hydrogen Production and Energy Storage called the Clean Energy Bridge and to help facilitate the system’s readiness for demonstration and commercial adoption.
  • ROCCERA, LLC – USD 100,000 – To evaluate and demonstrate a novel commercially viable Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Cell prototype for clean hydrogen production together with a corresponding scalable, more efficient manufacturing process, the release states.

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Topsoe to license waste-to-fuel technology

The agreement with Steeper Energy will allow Topsoe to provide a waste-to-fuel technology solution for sustainable aviation fuel, marine biofuel, and renewable diesel from waste biomass.

Denmark-headquartered Topsoe, a developer and provider of carbon emission reduction technologies, has signed a global licensing agreement for a complete waste-to-fuel solution with Steeper Energy.

With the agreement, Topsoe will be able to provide a complete waste-to-fuel technology solution and at the same time a one-stop solution for refineries, project developers, and industries having access to excess waste biomass, according to a news release. The end-products include sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), marine biofuel, and renewable diesel from waste biomass.

“This will make it easier for refineries and project developers to access the technology they need for advanced biofuels,” Peter Vang Christensen, senior vice president, Clean Fuels & Chemicals – Technology, Topsoe, said. “It will also allow them to access new renewable feedstocks while supporting decarbonization of the transportation sector, not least aviation and shipping.”

“Steeper recognizes Topsoe as a world leader in developing and implementing renewable refining technologies. Steeper’s Hydrofaction™ process, when combined with Topsoe’s technology, completes the pathway from biomass waste to drop-in liquid fuels and is compatible with existing refining infrastructure,” Bevan May, president, Steeper Energy, said. “This reduces capital requirements and allows for the accelerated deployment of these solutions. We are excited to combine our efforts with Topsoe and bring our joint solution to the renewable liquid fuels market.”

Steeper’s Hydrofaction™ has been validated through various stages of continuous pilot and demonstration-scale plant operations over the past 10 years.

With this agreement, the parties are working towards the first commercial scale deployment of Hydrofaction™ technology.

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CO2-to-SAF developer gets $75m project equity investment

The developer also entered into an offtake agreement with American Airlines, with financial support from Citi.

Infinium and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst today announced a $75m project equity investment commitment to support Infinium’s Project Roadrunner, subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions, according to a news release.

Project Roadrunner will convert waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and renewable power into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other low-carbon fuels. This first-of-a-kind commercial-scale Power-to-Liquids (PtL) eFuels facility is expected to be the largest PtL eFuels project in North America once operational. Breakthrough Energy Catalyst funds and invests in first-of-a-kind projects that support the deployment of emerging climate technologies to reduce emissions and accelerate the clean energy transition. This commitment represents Catalyst’s first equity investment to date.

Project Roadrunner, located in West Texas, will convert an existing brownfield gas-to-liquids project into a fully integrated eFuels facility that will deliver products into both U.S. and international markets. It will primarily produce Infinium eSAF, a sustainable aviation fuel with the potential to significantly reduce the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with air travel. PtL SAF is expected to reduce lifecycle GHG emissions in aviation by around 90 percent, which is higher than the emissions reductions achieved using SAF on the market today. Project Roadrunner will also produce Infinium eNaphtha for use in plastics manufacturing and Infinium eDiesel for use in hard-to-electrify transportation methods, such as long-haul trucking and maritime applications.

In tandem with Catalyst’s investment in Infinium, American Airlines and Infinium have entered into an innovative, firm offtake agreement for Infinium eSAF, according to the release. This agreement is a critical enabler of further investment in Project Roadrunner. American joined Breakthrough Energy Catalyst as an anchor partner to accelerate the development of next-generation clean energy technologies, including SAF. The Catalyst team worked to develop the agreement alongside the American and Infinium teams. The agreement provides one model for how airlines can use offtake agreements to help promising new SAF technologies attract investment dollars.

In further support of this offtake agreement, Citi and American Airlines have separately agreed to transfer the associated emission reductions to Citi to support the scaling of this innovative technology and help reduce a portion of Citi’s Scope 3 emissions from employee travel. Citi is also a partner of Breakthrough Energy Catalyst.

Infinium has numerous eFuels projects in development across the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Japan and Australia.

“The investment from Catalyst is critical to accelerating the completion of Project Roadrunner and to the delivery of significant volumes of eFuels created from waste carbon dioxide and renewable power. Importantly, this project will serve as a template for other, larger eFuels plants under development,” said Robert Schuetzle, CEO at Infinium. “The groundbreaking commercial agreement with American is an important prototype for the aviation industry as its firm offtake agreement supports project financing, providing revenue certainty for the project.”

“This project is a landmark achievement for the development of sustainable aviation fuels and the offtake agreement provides a model for the entire aviation industry of one way to effect change and support the scale-up of capital-intensive projects,” said Mario Fernandez, Head of Breakthrough Energy Catalyst. “Infinium’s technological and commercial maturity, coupled with the company’s project development expertise, will help accelerate the clean energy transition by quickly bringing to market clean fuels for aviation, trucking, and other long-distance parts of the transportation sector. American’s creativity, commitment and collaboration with Citi, have set a new marker, demonstrating what it takes to usher in a climate-friendly aviation future.”

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EverWind Fuels reaches agreement for CAD 125m loan

Export Development Canada has reached an agreement in principle for a CAD $125m loan for a proposed green hydrogen facility in Nova Scotia.

EverWind and Export Development Canada have reached an agreement in principle on terms for a $125m debt facility to support the project, pending final due diligence, according to a news release.

This loan will support clean power generation and clean hydrogen production that will be able to be exported to markets in Germany and around the world, as well as for domestic consumption.

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Green hydrogen firm secures offtake LOI for Texas project

Clean Energy Holdings has secured an LOI for offtake from a European buyer for phase 1 of a green hydrogen project currently under development in Texas.

Clean Energy Holdings (CEH), a green hydrogen firm, has secured offtake for phase 1 of a green hydrogen project currently under development in Clear Fork, Texas.

A critical component of the project’s progress, the letter of intent for hydrogen offtake was signed this week with a European buyer, CEH chief executive Nicholas Bair said in an interview. He declined to name the offtaker but described it as a national energy security issue for the buyer.

The offtake agreement covers the first 30,000 kg per day of production from the site starting in 4Q24, which encapsulates phase 1 of the project. CEH President Cornelius Fitzgerald said the facility will eventually ramp up in four phases to around 130,000 kg per day of production.

CEH, which develops but also plans to own and operate projects, has assembled a coalition of industry partners, which it calls The Alliance, to provide “soup-to-nuts delivery,” Bair said. “We oversee projects from the first day to the last day the lights are on and the last use of each molecule.”

He added: “In the energy transformation, availability, security, and reliability matter.”

In addition to CEH, the group includes Bair Energy, Chart Industries, Equix, RockeTruck, Coast 2 Coast Logistics, The Eastman Group, and, most recently, HSB.

Bair emphasized the importance of the recent $4.4bn merger announcement between Chart Industries and Howden for its impact on vertical integration for CEH’s projects. Chart and Howden said in a press release last week that the merger will expand Chart’s equipment portfolio and process technology offering for multiple molecules and applications across high growth areas, including hydrogen.

“The acquisition gives CEH high confidence in security of supply from the Chart scope, and when paired with Chart’s performance history and customer centric experience, we believe Chart has increased its important position for our platform and our industry in general,” Fitzgerald added.

CEH had already put in a $100m purchase order for equipment with Chart, which is advising The Alliance on liquefaction, storage, reverse osmosis, and water, but the order jumped to $400m in a phased approach over the next 24 – 36 months following the Howden announcement, Bair said.

Project finance

In order to finance the Clear Fork project, CEH is seeking to raise just under $1bn through sponsor equity and project finance debt, using ING as financial advisor, the executives said. The tenor of the debt will likely come in between seven and 10 years, in line with the terms of the offtake agreement.

CEH has received interest from 142 “top notch” investors for the equity piece, and interest from 42 investors that could do both debt and equity, Bair said.

Bair and Fitzgerald declined to discuss pricing for the offtake contract, but noted the terms were “economically responsible” even without factoring in expanded tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act. “We meet the hurdle rates of our investors and our bank” without the tax credits, Bair said.

CEH is on a baseline schedule to reach FID on the Clear Fork project by April, 2023, Bair said, and is working with Norton Rose Fulbright as legal counsel.

More projects

Meanwhile, CEH and its partners are seeking to assemble an ambitious pipeline of projects over the next decade, and have held discussions with additional potential offtakers in foreign and domestic markets.

A project announced last year — CEH’s first — seeks to advance a wind-powered green hydrogen plant in Colorado.

With The Alliance, “The amount of intelligence and experience that we’ve had at the table at the early design phase of these projects has been of tremendous value,” Fitzgerald said.

“Once there’s been enough experience and a bit more trust built up within those relationships, now we’re seeing opportunities to start to come from our platform around where an offtake might be needed,” he added, equating it to a development model that “shops backward” from where the molecule is needed.

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California biomass-to-hydrogen firm in Series A

A woody biomass-to-hydrogen firm in California is conducting an in-house Series A for engineering and design on its first project, one that will need more than $800m of debt and equity in the future.

Mote Inc. is aiming to finish a Series A round, raising between $12m and $15m, by the end of the year, CEO Joshuah Stolaroff said in an interview.

The company does not have a relationship with a financial advisor and has been conducting the raise in-house, he said. Moving forward the company will need a financial advisor.

The Series A will provide some 18 months of technology development runway, plus engineering and design on the first project in Bakersfield, Kern County. That will require some $800m in debt and project equity to start in the next year.

A second project in Sacramento is in the pre-Feed stage. That development is the subject of a recently secured grant from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

“We need big partners to do it on any meaningful scale,” Stolaroff said of biomass-to-hydrogen. Investors tend to be technology VCs with little or no knowledge of project finance, and infra funds looking for no-risk projects. “We fall somewhere in between.”

Part of the Arches H2 hub in California, Mote has ambitions to expand to other areas of the US with good biomass supply and CO2 storage, like the southeast and Gulf Coast, Stolaroff said. The company would also like to expand internationally.

“We are a great deal right now,” he said of the Series A,” adding that a Series B or project equity round will follow shortly.

Majority equity is held by the company’s six employees, Stolaroff said. There are also seed investors that hold equity.

Abundant feedstock and a growing offtake market

Mote’s three primary feedstocks are agricultural and forestry reside and urban green waste. California produces some 45m tons of it per year and the number nationwide is about half-a-billion, Stolaroff said.

Mote is confident for demand from hydrogen customers, Stoaroff said. Transportation is expected to be a strong demand source by the time Mote is operational. The Arches hub also has connections with municipal users, filling stations and the ports of LA and Long Beach.

“We are all planning for growth,” he said.

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Turnt up about turndown ratios

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down. We asked electrolyzer makers: how low can you go?

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down.

A consensus is growing around the importance of turndown ratios for electrolyzers, with a variety of use cases for green hydrogen requiring the machines to be run at low levels during periods of high power pricing.

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers are known for their ability to quickly ramp production up and down, but manufacturers of all stripes have begun to tout their technologies’ turndown ratios, with implications for capital costs and the levelized cost of producing hydrogen from renewable power.

Simply put, some electrolyzer plant operators will likely seek to lower hydrogen production during periods of high power pricing, since the cost of electricity is the largest operating expense. But cycling the electrolyzers completely off and on can lead to added system degradation, giving importance to the ability of the machines to run at low levels.

A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyzes a US grid buildout through 2050, noting favorable locations and seasonality for power pricing as something of a guideline for green hydrogen development. The study notes that the lowest achievable turndown ratio is a main factor in minimizing hydrogen levelized cost along with the number of hours a system can operate at that minimum level – something that applies to all types of electrolyzers.

“When you start to look at hourly costs from the data in different locations, you see that all of this renewable buildout is going to create opportunities in given locations where you going to have a lot of renewable generation and not a lot of load on the system and that’s going to drive the cost for that energy down,” said Alex Badgett, an author of the study at NREL.

To be sure, the fast-moving technological environment for electrolysis leaves open the possibility for efficiency gains and disruptive innovation. And a variety of factors – balance of plant, energy efficiency, system degradation – also influence plant economics. But the lowest possible turndown ratios will drive opportunities for green hydrogen developers, Badgett said.

ReSource reviewed available spec sheets for electrolyzer providers and asked every maker of PEM and SOEC systems to detail the turndown capabilities of their machines. Alkaline electrolyzers were left out of the analysis given their more limited load flexibility, as their separators are less effective at preventing potentially dangerous cross-diffusion of gasses. Some manufacturers are fully transparent regarding turndown ranges while others declined to comment or did not reply to inquiries.

‘Not trivial’

In designing projects, developers are analyzing hourly energy supply schedules and pairing the outlook with what is known about available technology options.

“Some electrolyzers like to operate at half power, and others like to operate at full power, and in any given system, you can have between 10 and 50 electrolyzers wired and plumbed in parallel,” said Mike Grunow, who leads the Power-to-X platform at Strata Clean Energy.

“Our thought process even goes down to: let’s say you have to operate the H2 plant at 25% throughput. Do you operate all of the electrolyzers at 25%, or do you turn 75% of the electrolyzers off and only operate 25% at full power?”

The difference in the schemes, he added, is “not trivial as each technology has different efficiency curves and drivers of degradation.”

Different use cases for the hydrogen derivative, meanwhile, lead to different natural selection of technologies, Grunow said, adding that the innovation cycle is now happening every 12 months, requiring a close eye on advances in technology. 

Electrolyzer start-up Electric Hydrogen, a maker of PEM electrolyzers, is commercializing a 100 MW system that can turn down to 10%, according to Jason Mortimer, SVP of global sales at the company.

HyAxium, another start-up, can turn its system down to 10%, according to its materials. Norway-based Hystar, which recently announced plans to build a plant in the US, also promotes a 10% turndown ratio.

A more established PEM electrolyzer provider, Cummins, advertises turndown ratios of 5% for its machines. Sungrow Power, a China-based manufacturer, similarly advertises 5% for PEM electrolyzers.

Siemens Energy has a minimum turndown ratio per stack of 40%, but for a single system it can be less in exceptional cases, according to Claudia Nehring, a company spokesperson.

“We focus on large systems” – greater than 100 MW – “and currently consider this value to be appropriate, taking into account the optimization between efficiency, degradation and dynamics, but are working on an improvement,” she said via email.

ITM Power declined to provide details but said its turndown capabilities are “to be expected” for a market leader in this technology. Materials from German-based H-Tec Systems note a modulation rate down to 10%.

Additional PEM makers Nel, Ohmium, Elogen, H2B2, Hoeller Electrolyzer, Plug Power, Shanghai Electric, and Teledyne Energy Systems did not respond to requests for information.

PEM alternatives

Other forms of electrolysis can also ramp dynamically. And some project developers point to PEM’s use of iridium, part of the platinum metals family, as a drawback due to potential scarcity issues.

Verdagy, for example, has developed an advanced alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) system called eDynamic that it says takes the best of PEM and alkaline technologies while designing out the downsides.

The company’s technology “addresses the barriers that limited traditional AWE adoption by using single-element cells that can operate efficiently at high current densities,” executives said in response to emailed questions. 

“The ability to operate at very high current densities, coupled with a balance of stack and balance of plant optimized for dynamic operation, allow Verdagy’s electrolyzers to operate across a very broad range spanning 0.1-2.0 A/cm2,” they said.

In other words, the machine can turn down to 5%, part of the design that enables operators “to modulate production to take advantage of time-of-day pricing and/or fluctuations in energy production.”

Meanwhile, German-based Thysenkrupp Nucera, another maker of advanced water electrolyzers, advertises a 10% turndown ratio.

SOEC

A relatively new electrolysis technology, the solid oxide electrolyzer cell has also proven to be capable of low turndown ratios. Solid oxide electrolysis is particularly attractive when paired with high-temperature industrial processes, where heat can be captured and fed back into the high-temperature SOEC process, making it more efficient.

Joel Moser, the CEO of First Ammonia, said he chose SOEC from Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe in part because the machines can be turned completely off with no degradation, as long as you keep them warm.

“Generally speaking we expect to ramp up and ramp down between 100% and 10%,” he said. “We can turn them off as long as we keep them warm, and then we can turn them right back on.”

Still, SOEC systems are not without challenges.

“Low stack power and high operating temperature, which in turn requires more ancillary equipment to operate the electrolyzer, are widely viewed as the main drawbacks of SOEC technology,” according to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, which explores SOEC technology and its commercial prospects. “SOEC systems are also considered to have a shorter operating life due to thermal stress.”

Additional makers of SOEC machines Bloom Energy, Ceres, Elcogen, Genvia, SolydERA, and Toshiba did not respond to inquiries.

At NREL, researchers are watching for more automation and scale in the electrolyzer production process to bring costs down. Increasing efficiency through balance-of-plant improvements is another opportunity to reduce system costs.

In addition, more analysis of how large electrolyzer projects will impact the future electrical grid is required, according to Badgett.

The NREL team modeled the hourly marginal cost at any given time in any location in the US, but the model assumes that the electrolyzer takes energy without impacting the cost of energy.

“When we start to get to gigawatt-scale electrolysis,” he said, “that’s going to significantly impact prices, as well as how the grid is going to build out.”

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