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Oort Energy secures £5m Seed funding

The Uk-based electrolyzer startup is focused on the decarbonization of heavy industry.

Oort Energy, a UK-based next-generation hydrogen electrolyser developer, today announced that it has closed its oversubscribed £5m Seed raise led by Energy Revolution Ventures (ERV), according to a news release.

The funding augments approximately £800k in non-dilutive grants awarded to the company by various UK and EU government bodies. The major Seed round investors include TRIREC, an Asian based decarbonization fund, as well as a corporate strategic investor.

The funding will support the set-up of the company’s electrolyser stack manufacturing facility and the deployment of their first fully compliant demonstrator to produce green hydrogen from renewable energy.

The Seed funding round was closed in two equal tranches, with the first tranche utilized to build the team and launch its manufacturing facility, whilst the second tranche allowed the company to bring in a strategic investor, who will assist with supply chain and large-scale manufacturing.

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Tree Energy Solutions and EWE building electrolyzer in Wilhelmshaven

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW at the hub on the North Sea coast.

Tree Energy Solutions and German utility EWE are signing an MoU to build an electrolyzer in TES’ Green Energy Hub in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, according to a press release.

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW.

The hub in Wilhelmshaven is on the North Sea coast and can accommodate up to 2 GW capacity electrolyzers with renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

In October Tree Energy Solutions agreed to terms for Fortescue Future industries to make an equity investment of EUR 30m to become a strategic shareholder in TES, and to invest EUR 100m for a stake in the construction of the import terminal in Wilhelmshaven. Before that the Belgium-based company concluded its second fundraising round at EUR 65m.

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Texas ethylene-to-alkylate facility comes online

ECP-backed Next Wave Energy Partners brought the facility online in the Houston Ship Channel, and has plans for a second facility that will convert renewable feedstocks into building blocks for plastics and SAF.

Next Wave Energy Partners, LP, a portfolio company of Energy Capital Partners (ECP), today announced that its alkylate production facility, known as Project Traveler and located adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, has achieved commercial operations.

“We are extremely pleased that this innovative facility is now producing what we believe to be the world’s highest quality alkylate product,” said Next Wave Executive Chairman Patrick Diamond in a news release. “Although the composition of global energy supplies will evolve over many years, Next Wave is firmly positioned to deliver drop-in solutions that improve energy efficiency and reliability and contribute to the decarbonization of our planet both now and into the future.”

Alkylate is a valuable gasoline blending component that typically comprises 10% to 15% of the overall gasoline pool in the United States. Alkylate is prized for its clean properties – high octane, low vapor pressure and low sulfur content. Next Wave’s alkylate product, marketed under the trade name Optimate, offers qualities superior to traditional refinery alkylate because it can be produced with 96.0 road octane (98.0+ Research Octane Number), a low 3.5 Reid vapor pressure and five parts per million or less of sulfur. Importantly, Optimate, produced without using crude oil, has a lower carbon intensity than traditional refinery alkylate.

“The performance of our Project Traveler facility has exceeded our expectations and there is strong market demand for our lower carbon intensity Optimate product,” said Next Wave President and CEO Michael Bloesch. “The Next Wave platform – anchored by Project Traveler – is well positioned for cost-effective expansions of Optimate production capacity, while also retaining the optionality to vertically integrate into upstream renewable feedstocks and downstream renewable chemical and fuels products.”

In addition to commencing engineering work for debottlenecks of and capacity additions to the Project Traveler facility, Next Wave is also in the development stage for a second project. The project, known as Project Lightning, would leverage the existing assets and enhance the optionality of the Next Wave platform by converting renewable feedstocks into chemical building blocks for use in the manufacturing of a variety of specialty products, from net zero carbon plastics to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Specifically, Project Lightning would utilize ethanol as a feedstock and have the capability to produce bio-ethylene, renewable Optimate (alkylate), and sustainable aviation fuel. The inclusion of a metathesis unit in the project would add optionality to convert ethylene and bio-ethylene into propylene and bio-propylene, respectively.

“I would like to thank the entire Next Wave team for their unwavering commitment to developing a world-class facility,” said Pete Labbat, Managing Partner at ECP. “ECP is proud to have partnered with Next Wave, a company that has been at the forefront of the U.S. energy revolution. Next Wave remains committed to producing a product that enhances transportation fuel efficiency and doing so with adherence to safe and reliable operations.”

“Next Wave was an early mover in identifying the secondary and downstream effects of the shale revolution,” added Matt Delaney, Partner at ECP. “By converting natural gas liquids and their derivatives into higher-value, fuel-efficient products, Next Wave has created a win-win scenario for feedstock suppliers and alkylate customers.”

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LanzaTech makes PET resin from captured carbon emissions

The resin is suitable for food, personal care, and pharmaceutical packaging, as well as other non-packaging applications.

LanzaTech Global and Plastipak Packaging have successfully produced PPKNatura, the world’s first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin made from captured carbon emissions, according to a news release. The resin is suitable for food, personal care, and pharmaceutical packaging, as well as other non-packaging applications.

PET is a polymer that is molded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer goods. PET resin comprises 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG) traditionally derived from petroleum. PPKNatura leverages CarbonSmart™ MEG from LanzaTech’s CCT process. It retains the technical properties of virgin fossil PET while carrying a lower carbon footprint. Thus, PPKNatura can be a used for traditional food and pharmaceutical grade packaging and other sensitive applications such as hot-fill, refillables, and applications where a low crystallinity is required. Non-packaging PET applications can also take advantage of this ground-breaking resin.

PPKNatura resin reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and its production process does not require land or food resources. In addition, packaging made out of this material can be fully recycled at the end of its life, keeping the carbon in a circular material cycle.

Leading Swiss retailer Migros and its subsidiary Mibelle Group were the first to use this PET in in-house brand packaging, including in creating PET bottles for smoothies and the containers of household cleaners that also contained LanzaTech ethanol as a key ingredient.

“LanzaTech’s commercial technology is designed to enable our partners in diverse industries to reduce their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact,” said Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive officer of LanzaTech. “Our partnership with Plastipak is critical to demonstrating what is possible today. Today we are producing food- and pharmaceutical-grade packaging and are well on our way to creating a more sustainable future for all.”

LanzaTech’s CCT technology works like a brewery in which proprietary bacteria consume pollution and convert it into CarbonSmart chemicals. Those chemicals are then turned into products ranging from clothing and laundry detergent to sustainable aviation fuel. Using a variety of waste feedstocks, LanzaTech’s technology platform is creating a future where consumers are not dependent on virgin fossil inputs for everything in their daily lives.

“We are delighted to partner with LanzaTech to achieve early progress in our ambition to produce PET with lower environmental impacts. The use of CarbonSmart MEG is a first and important milestone in our journey toward this goal, and combined with use of renewable electricity in the production process, has contributed to significant progress in indicators such as carbon reduction and use of fossil resources. PPKNatura resin is one element of Plastipak’s ESG program, which among other initiatives, targets the extension of our product circularity with the intent of supporting customers in reducing their Scope 3 emissions. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with LanzaTech as we work together to achieve our long-term goals,” said Pedro Martins, executive managing director Europe of Plastipak.

“The use of fossil fuels must be avoided. Where this is not possible, it makes sense to include greenhouse gases in products so that the gases do not contribute to global warming and climate change,” says Christoph Meili, a specialist in life cycle assessments at WWF Switzerland.

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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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Reaching bankability: The developing financial landscape around green hydrogen

Panelists at the S&P Platts Global Power Markets conference discussed existing and future opportunities to finance hydrogen production, storage and transport.

Decarbonizing is no longer an option: almost every company in every industry understands that’s the direction in which they need to be moving – now.

And for some companies, hydrogen is the only solution, Fanny Charrier, hydrogen Americas coordinator at Crédit Agricole CIB, said during the Fueling Tomorrow with Hydrogen panel at the S&P Platts Global Power Markets conference this week.

Even so, the project menu is limited.

“We haven’t seen many projects to finance,” Charrier said. “Everybody’s waiting.”

ACES Delta in Utah is thus far the only producing green hydrogen project in the US to raise financing, Charrier said. Credit Agricole is thus focused on M&A debt and equity advisory.

“What we’re looking at is mostly pure green hydrogen projects,” she said. Green ammonia shipping to Europe is a main end-use and market. Project sizes range from a few million up to USD 5bn. “We’re also supporting some electrolyzer manufacturing plants.”

Mobility, heavy trucks and shippers looking for hydrogen is a potentially huge market, but hasn’t materialized yet, she said.

Demand signals

In Europe, commitments to close traditional power generation assets hold promise for clean fuels, António Fayad, manager of hydrogen strategy at EDP Renewables, said during the panel. In the US, EDP is mainly looking to industry to buy hydrogen at or adjacent to factories and other relevant facilities.

There has been a strong, customer-led demand signal from the US, said Sam Bartholomaeus, vice president of power and renewables at Woodside Energy. Woodside was already considering a hydrogen project in Oklahoma when the IRA was passed.

“The signal was already there in terms of seeing demand sectors that need to be decarbonized and seeing that we had a competitive proposition,” he said of the hydrogen portfolio Woodside is developing in the US.

Woodside recently signed a contract for Air Liquide to provide liquefaction equipment for a hydrogen project in Ardmore, Oklahoma. First production at that project will begin in 2026 and Woodside is targeting FID this year.

Government support and finding offtake  

Last year, the USD 504m loan guarantee for the US Department of Energy was a huge boost for the ACES Delta in Utah, Susan Fernandez, senior director of strategy at ACES-Delta, said.

That kind of support from governments and legislatively mandated decarbonization quickens the proliferation of new hydrogen technologies and projects.

“Others will also have the ability to receive more loan guarantee dollars,” Fernandez said of the post-IRA landscape. “We’ll see more projects come to the space.”

Still, offtake is key to reaching bankability, Charrier said.

“The key is always the offtake,” she said. Rather than a chicken-and-egg metaphor, she said she likes to mention a domino effect. “Yes, at the beginning we’ll have to pay a premium, but if it’s driven by a net-zero commitment everything will fall into place.”

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Brookfield-owned renewables developer planning hydrogen co-location

An IPP and developer of wind, solar and storage projects is in early discussions with potential partners to co-locate electrolysis with its operating assets and projects in development.

Scout Clean Energy, the Boulder, Colorado-based IPP and renewables developer, is laying the groundwork to co-locate electrolysis for green hydrogen with its wind and solar assets, CEO Michael Rucker said in an interview.

The company’s Power2X team is charged with looking for alternative strategies, Rucker said.

“We are actively trying to match project opportunities with the future hydrogen economy,” he said, noting that the company’s operating wind portfolio provides a crucial piece of that. “Wind is an especially good fit for hydrogen production just in terms of pricing.”

Scout, which is owned by Brookfield Renewable, sees itself as producing green electrons and doesn’t want to get into marketing and distribution of hydrogen, Rucker said.

Brookfield acquired Scout in 2022 for $1bn, with the potential to invest an additional $350m to support development activities.

Scout has its first solar project in development in ERCOT, a market where shipping of hydrogen would make for a promising project, Rucker said. The company has also looked at the Midwest, where a robust SAF production ecosystem is forming, as well as the Pacific Northwest.

The company is already working with one hydrogen developer to match production to one of its wind farms, Rucker said. An exact location has not been selected.

Pricing diligence has been promising, Rucker said. But the offtake market in the US remains slow to develop despite regulatory encouragement.

“The IRA has given us maybe the most subsidized hydrogen production market in the world but it’s really being production-driven not demand-driven, so we really need to see more of the economy using hydrogen,” Rucker said. “I trust that will come, it’s just going to take longer than we think.”

Scout is not ready to take anything to market related to hydrogen, but ultimately there will be a need for financial advisory, Rucker said.
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