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Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan acquires RNG firm Sevana Bioenergy

Ontario Teachers has acquired a majority stake in the RNG developer and made a capital commitment of $250m.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board has entered into a strategic partnership with Sevana Bioenergy that will see it acquire a majority stake in the business and make a capital commitment of $250m to develop renewable natural gas (RNG) projects across North America, according to a press release.

Sevana is a pioneer in the RNG industry, developing and upgrading large-scale biogas projects to increase the production and use of RNG through the reduction of organic waste.  Sevana has successfully executed dairy and organics projects which include more than 20 state-of-the-art digester tanks across agricultural regions such as Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota since its founding by CEO John McKinney in 2017.

Sevana led these innovative projects to deploy more than $350m under construction and worked closely with farmers to form long-term beneficial partnerships as part of its strategy to own and operate reliable digester facilities. Sevana’s team of in-house experts has over 150 years of combined experience designing, operating, and maximizing performance of anaerobic digesters with projects worldwide.

“We are pleased to partner with John and the Sevana team to help accelerate their efforts to develop advanced digester facilities that produce RNG and electricity for transportation fuel, EV charging and other forms of energy,” said Zvi Orvitz, senior managing director, Sustainability & Energy Transition, Private Capital at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. “Sevana has a demonstrated track record of success in the implementation of cutting edge RNG facilities, and we are excited by the opportunity to further scale the company as it enters its next chapter of growth.”

RNG is an important tool in the decarbonization of transportation, heating and industrial energy consumption and Sevana is a market leader entering new markets with RNG related products. Sevana’s projects capture fugitive methane emissions from farm animal and other organic waste streams that contribute to climate change and use this waste to produce low-carbon renewable power and RNG to replace fossil fuel-based energy sources. The company boasts a deep pipeline of future development opportunities and is also actively considering acquisition opportunities across the U.S.

“We welcome Ontario Teachers’ and look forward to our partnership as we work toward our objective of providing decarbonization solutions from RNG and continuing to enter new markets with related products” said Steve Compton, president at Sevana Bioenergy. “This commitment accelerates development of our industry leading projects that contribute direct economic and sustainable benefits to local communities and reduce greenhouse gases.”

Sevana is the latest investment by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in the Sustainability and Energy Transition sector and will serve to advance the organization’s commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Ontario Teachers’ on the transaction. Fredrickson and Byron served as legal counsel to Sevana.

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Tata Steel to invest 65m euros in Dutch green steel production

Tata Steel Nederland has signed contracts with McDermott, Danieli and Hatch to advance technical preparations for green steel production.

Tata Steel Nederland has signed contracts with three companies – McDermott, Danieli and Hatch – to advance technical preparations for green steel production.

This phase in the project is expected to cost over 65m euros, and will result in an engineering package that forms the basis for final permitting and project planning, according to a press release.

Tata Steel wants to move to green steel manufacturing in a clean environment as fast as possible, with each of the three partner companies bringing their own specific expertise to help Tata shape and deliver hydrogen-based steel manufacturing.

The project is led by the Tata Steel internal project and sustainability team, in close support of the main delivery partners. McDermott is responsible for the construction input and support of the technical project management. Danieli is responsible for the engineering design for the  plant and technology that delivers the Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), the first step in the iron making process. Hatch is the technology licensor  of the electric furnaces (REF) that melt the DRI and help to reduce the oxygen content further thereby improving the final steel quality. The REF and DRI plant are closely coupled to form an integrated production system.

“We recently signed agreements about our future with two ministries and the province of North Holland. In doing so, we have committed to being CO2 neutral before 2045 and emit between 35 to 40% less CO2 before 2030. This will primarily be achieved via the hydrogen route where the blast furnaces are replaced with modern clean steel making technology that uses hydrogen or gas instead of coal,” said Hans van den Berg, CEO of Tata Steel Nederland in a statement.

DRI (direct reduced iron) technology is a relatively new production technology, in which iron ores are directly reduced using natural gas or hydrogen, rather than coal. The reduction of iron ores takes place in a DRI plant in a shaft reactor  at a relatively low temperature of up to about 1000°C. The reduced iron is then further processed into hot metal in an electric furnace (REF). During this step the right amount of carbon is being added to create a very precise and high quality feedstock for our steel plant.

The DRI-REF technology offers several advantages. By using green electricity and a predominant hydrogen stream, the CO2 emissions from the process are much lower than when using blast furnaces. The new process can also accommodate higher percentages of circular steel, where scrap can be added to the REFs or the induction furnaces.

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Rolls-Royce and easyJet test hydrogen jet engine

The UK ground test was conducted on an early concept demonstrator using green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power.

Rolls-Royce and easyJet today have successfully tested an aero engine on hydrogen, according to a press release.

The ground test was conducted on an early concept demonstrator using green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power.

The companies have ambition to carry out flight tests, the release states.

The test took place at an outdoor test facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. Green hydrogen for the tests was supplied by the European Marine Energy Centre, generated using renewable energy at their hydrogen production and tidal test facility on Eday in the Orkney Islands.

Following analysis of the ground test the partnership plans a series of rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine.

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Ameresco begins construction on Sacramento biogas co-generation project

The firm has entered a nearly $140m contract to develop and construct an advanced technology biogas cogeneration facility for the Sacramento Area Sewer District.

Ameresco, Inc., a cleantech integrator specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, has entered a nearly $140m contract to develop and construct an advanced technology biogas cogeneration facility for the Sacramento Area Sewer District located at the EchoWater Resource Recovery Facility (EchoWater Facility) near Elk Grove, California, according to a news release.

This on-site renewable energy facility will beneficially utilize biogas (methane), a byproduct of the EchoWater Facility’s solids treatment process, to produce renewable electricity and heat for the EchoWater Facility through an integrated 13.4 MW cogeneration plant that will utilize fuel cell and engine technology.

Construction of the new facility is expected to be completed by July 2026.

By incorporating the fuel cell system, the project will have exceptional efficiency and reduced pollutant emissions, making it a clean, reliable baseload dispatchable resource. Additionally, the system will allow for the expandability to produce hydrogen in the future.

“SacSewer is committed to being a leader in environmental stewardship. Through our sustainable efforts in resource recovery, we maximize the reuse of treatment process by-products such as biogas,” shared Christoph Dobson, SacSewer’s General Manager. “This project is yet another example of how we’re working every day to fulfill our mission of protecting public health and the environment by collecting, treating, and recovering resources from sewage.”

“We are thrilled to partner with SacSewer, supporting their efforts to optimize the use of the biogas that is generated as a byproduct of the sewage treatment process,” said Michael Bakas, Executive Vice President of Ameresco. “Capturing and repurposing biogenic methane, that is already in our environment and produced by society, to displace fossil fuel is a powerful example of the circular economy in action, where waste is not discarded, but turned into a valuable asset. This voluntary act by SacSewer, backed by a material investment into this advanced renewable energy center, speaks volumes to their commitment to our environment and their surrounding community.”

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Exclusive: Waste-to-fuels developer preparing capital raise

A waste-to-fuels developer has lined up an advisor and is planning a capital raise for a project in West Texas, in what is expected to be the first of up to 20 similar fundraising efforts totaling $500m in external capital needs.

Recover, Inc., a Calgary-based waste-to-fuels project developer, is preparing to launch a capital raise for its first US-based projects in West Texas.

The company has lined up CIBC to assist with the capital raise while a large Canadian Crown Corporation is expected to sign on as a lending partner for the debt portion of the cap stack, CFO Shane Kozak said in an interview.

Kozak said he will need to raise $70m – $75m for the West Texas project, which will process waste from oil and gas drilling fluids and recover 800 barrels per day of low carbon intensity diesel fuel from 800 tons of waste.

Existing equity backers Azimuth Capital and BDC will participate in the capital raise, but the company is seeking additional project equity investors to take part in a 60% debt to 40% equity capital structure, Kozak said.

While the cost of the West Texas project is estimated at $55m, the company needs to raise approximately $70m to account for debt servicing and underwriting fees, he added.

Recover has mapped out a strategy to build 20 projects in oil and gas basins across the US, and estimates it will need to raise $500m in external capital over 10 years to fully develop those projects.

Project model

The company already operates a similar facility in Alberta that became operational in 2018, at a cost of CAD 20m and producing about half of what the West Texas project will produce.

“This has been commercially proven in Canada, and we’re going to a better market with a lot more drilling waste production” in the US, Kozak said.

The waste stream from oil and gas drilling contains large amounts of diesel fuel: a typical well will create 400 – 500 tons of waste, 30%-40% of which is recoverable low carbon intensity diesel, Kozak said.

In Texas, the drilling fluid waste often ends up in pits near drilling rigs or in industrial landfills, where it biodegrades over time and emits CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.

“We significantly reduce GHG emissions and create a fuel source that can be reused, and every barrel that we recover is a barrel of fuel that would otherwise have to come from a fossil fuel source,” he said.

Recent changes to Texas policy regarding oil and gas drilling waste could increase the availability of feedstock for the company. The Texas RailRoad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry, is seeking to modernize disposal practices that would redirect waste from drilling pits to more centralized industrial landfills.

“The good thing for us is that, in the Permian Basin, about 70% – 80% of the wells use these pits, and our strategy is to build our facility directly on industrial landfills,” Kozak said.

Recover is working with a large landfill management company with operations across the US to develop its facilities, he added. The company does not pay for feedstock, given the synergistic relationship between Recover and the landfill management company.

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Siemens Energy planning new US electrolyzer capacity

The company is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Siemens Energy North America is laying the groundwork for new electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in the United States, President Richard Voorberg said during a panel discussion recently.

Siemens Energy, a global energy technology company, makes an 18 MW PEM electrolyzer, one of the largest in the world, and is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Voorberg said.

The company is building its first gigawatt factory in Berlin, Germany via a joint venture with France’s Air Liquide. The Berlin factory is expected to produce 1 GW of PEM electrolyzers per year starting in mid-2023.

“As soon as we get that first one up and running… I’ve got a plan already to put a 1,000 MW line in the US,” Voorberg said, speaking during an event at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Washington D.C. last month.

Siemens’ existing manufacturing capacity in the US could expand to accommodate that new line, or the company could look to build an entirely new facility, Voorberg said. He added that the recently passed IRA helps makes the business case to do so.

Following the IRA, customers went from asking for fractions of a megawatt to seeking 2 GW in a single order, Voorberg said. His 18 MW line is now insufficient.

“We’ve got to scale up,” he said. “Scale is everything.”

Voorberg said his company sees hydrogen being used in electricity production around 2035, but mobility can use it now.

The planned move by Siemens underscores the extent to which the IRA legislation has trained the hydrogen industry’s focus on the U.S. Norway-based electrolyzer producer Nel is speeding efforts to expand electrolyzer capacity in the U.S. And Cummins announced last month that it would add electrolyzer production space at its existing facility in Fridley, Minnesota.

Siemens Energy is independent of Siemens AG, having spun off in 2020. The company has about 10,000 employees in the US and roughly 2,000 in Canada.

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Exclusive: Methanol electrolyzer start-up gearing up for seed capital raise

An early-stage technology company seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that produces methanol from CO2 at ambient temperature and pressure is preparing its first capital raise.

Oxylus Energy, a methanol technology and project development start-up, is preparing to kick off its first capital raise later this month.

The Yale-based firm is seeking to raise $4m in seed funding, with proceeds funding the advancement of a production-scale CO2-to-methanol electrolyzer cell and its first commercial agreements for offtake, CEO Perry Bakas said in an interview.

Oxylus aims to commercialize an electrolyzer that creates methanol from CO2 at room temperature and pressure, and also plans to develop and operate its own methanol production plants, he said.

The technology, which will scale to larger versions in coming years, recently hit a key milestone with the validation of a 5cm2 platform.

The seed capital raise would provide approximately 26 months of runway, according to Bakas. The company would then raise between $20 – $30m in a follow-on Series A in late 2026.

“What we’re gonna do with the Series A is put that first electrolyzer into the ground,” he said. “It’ll be our first revenue-producing methanol.”

Oxylus is currently owned by Bakas and his fellow co-founders. The company has been entirely grant funded to this point. DLA Piper is advising as the law firm on the seed capital raise.

“I think the most important thing about the technology is it’s the most energy-efficient pathway to making renewable methanol,” he said. “At the right energy prices, you’re below cost parity with fossil-derived methanol. When that happens, I think it’ll become a very interesting development scenario.”

Oxylus is focused on bringing the so-called green premium down to zero, Bakas said, noting that it requires achieving scale in electrolyzer production or partnering with established electrolyzer manufacturers.

Methanol for shipping

Oxylus will seek to introduce its technology into target markets that are already using methanol as a feedstock, like high-value petrochemicals. In the longer term, shipping and aviation are likely to become attractive markets. Taken together, the company believes methanol has the potential to decarbonize 11% of global emissions.

Methanol will compete with ammonia for primacy as a shipping fuel in the future, but Bakas believes methanol is the better option.

“These are massive markets – they need a lot of solutions, and quickly,” he said. “But ammonia is not energy dense, and it doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure.”

The International Energy Agency recently projected that while ammonia will be cheaper to make, methanol is easier to handle, resulting in roughly similar cost profiles for e-methanol and green ammonia. The added cost for methanol production, the report found, is likely to come from a scarcity of biogenic CO2.

On that topic, Bakas acknowledged that the methanol pathway still requires combustion of carbon, but emphasized his technology’s ability to displace existing fossil fuel-based methanol production.

“The distinction we need to make is: are these virgin hydrocarbons or are they recycled hydrocarbons? If you’re just continuously pumping new CO2 out of the ground into the atmosphere, you’re gonna continue to cause climate change,” he said.

“The technologies that we are building in this suite of technologies that cover direct air capture, point source capture, carbon conversion, that whole CCUS world,” he added, “are really working to monitor and create a homeostasis in the atmospheric balance of CO2.”

Oxylus recently completed a lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, Bakas said, finding that its fuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% at optimal voltage compared to natural gas steam methane reforming.

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