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Plug Power receives $1.66bn conditional loan guarantee from DOE

The commitment will help finance the development, construction, and ownership of up to six green hydrogen production facilities.

Plug Power Inc., a provider of comprehensive hydrogen solutions for the green hydrogen economy, received a conditional commitment for an up to $1.66bn loan guarantee from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) to finance the development, construction, and ownership of up to six green hydrogen production facilities, according to a news release.

The production facilities, which will be selected for financing in accordance with procedures to be set forth in definitive documentation with DOE, will be built across the nation and supply major companies, including Plug’s existing customers, with low-carbon, made-in-America green hydrogen. The hydrogen generated will be used in applications in the material handling, transportation, and industrial sectors.

“Green hydrogen is an essential driver of industrial decarbonization in the United States,” said Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. “Earlier this year, Plug successfully demonstrated our innovation and technical ability by launching the first commercial-scale green hydrogen plant in the country in Woodbine, Georgia. This loan guarantee will help us build on that success with additional green hydrogen plants.”

Marsh added, “We appreciate the partnership with the DOE Loan Programs Office and are pleased to have worked through an intensive due diligence process. The loan guarantee will prove instrumental to grow and scale not only Plug’s green hydrogen plant network, but the clean hydrogen industry in the United States.”

​Plug, a commercial-scale manufacturer of electrolyzers, currently operates the largest proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer system in the United States at its Woodbine, Ga., hydrogen plant. Plug’s current green hydrogen generation network now has a liquid hydrogen production capacity of approximately 25 tons per day.

Plug’s green hydrogen production plants utilize the company’s own electrolyzer stacks manufactured at its state-of-the-art gigafactory in Rochester, NY, and Plug’s liquefaction and hydrogen storage systems engineered at its facility in Houston.

DOE’s support for Plug’s green hydrogen projects represents a major milestone in the U.S.’s commitment to advance the development of large-scale hydrogen production, processing, delivery, and storage. It also underscores the application of green hydrogen to help meet decarbonization goals across multiple sectors of the economy.

While this conditional commitment represents a significant milestone and demonstrates the DOE’s intent to finance the project, certain technical, legal, environmental and financial conditions, including negotiation of definitive financing documents, must be satisfied before funding of the loan guarantee.

LPO works in support of President Biden’s ambitions to drive growth in US manufacturing and innovation, create jobs, and build a clean energy economy that will address climate change and make communities more resilient.

Plug’s projects under the loan will adhere to the Biden Administration’s Justice 40 Initiative. This process includes gathering input from local labor, workforce, and economic development organizations in addition to first responder and non-profit organizations. The plants are expected to create good-paying jobs accessible to a diverse talent supply and help develop workforce skills needed to drive the transition to a clean energy economy.

LPO’s Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, which supports innovative energy and supply chain projects and projects that reinvest in existing energy infrastructure, will provide the financing to Plug.

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Swiss firm reaches financial close on $1.5bn ammonia plant in Mexico

KfW IPEX was lead arranger of project financing, putting together a banking consortium of seven lenders and ECA coverage with Euler Hermes.

Proman, a global leader in natural gas derived products, has reached financial close on a $1.5bn investment for the financing of its 2,220 MT/day anhydrous ammonia plant in Topolobampo, Mexico, the company said earlier this month.

KfW IPEX was lead arranger of project financing, putting together a banking consortium of seven lenders and ECA coverage with Euler Hermes.

A 2020 announcement from KfW noted a total investment volume of $1.25bn, with the bank consortium contributing a total of $860m in debt capital. A considerable portion of the financing was secured by an export credit guarantee from the German government (Hermes cover).

Speaking on the announcement, David Cassidy, Chief Executive of Proman, said of the company’s presence in Mexico, “We are already a significant producer of ammonia, and this new plant will increase our annual production capacity to 2.8 million tonnes at a time when fertilizers have a critical role to play in the agricultural sector in Mexico and for global food security. We have built strong relationships with local stakeholders and communities and look forward to a long-term future in Mexico.”

Construction of the petrochemical complex will begin immediately.

Local news reports note that the project, which was initiated in 2018, faced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the revocation of its environmental authorization due to a failure by the federal Environment Ministry to consult with local indigenous communities.

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Climate Adaptive Infrastructure, DigitalBridge to collaborate on renewable diesel and green hydrogen strategies

The firms will include renewable diesel and green hydrogen as part of a joint effort to identify and invest in sustainability-focused initiatives.

Climate Adaptive Infrastructure and DigitalBridge Group, Inc. today announced a decarbonization partnership to accelerate the Digital Infrastructure ecosystem’s transition to Net Zero.

CAI, an infrastructure investment firm specializing in low-carbon real assets in the energy, water and urban infrastructure sectors will work with DigitalBridge to identify, develop and invest in sustainability-focused initiatives and projects that complement DigitalBridge’s existing and future investments.

As part of the partnership, CAI has allocated up to $300m of capital to support strategic opportunities identified by CAI and DigitalBridge.

CAI’s first investment under the initiative is in Switch, a 100% renewable powered data center platform, which a DigitalBridge-managed investment entity acquired last year. In addition, the parties have identified other potential investment opportunities within the DigitalBridge portfolio that address measurable decarbonization and water and energy resilience.

As a thought leader in the climate adaptive infrastructure industry, CAI will work with DigitalBridge to implement technologies from within and beyond the DigitalBridge portfolio. These include deployment of utility-scale solar and wind, low-impact hydro, electrochemical and pumped storage, water conservation and re-use, renewable biodiesel and green hydrogen, as well as the advanced climate impact measurement strategies developed by CAI. These projects, which may be financed, built, owned and operated by CAI, are expected to support DigitalBridge’s Net Zero 2030 commitment, and to drive economic efficiency across the DigitalBridge digital ecosystem.

“The DigitalBridge team is broadly recognized for their success in the sector and, through this initiative, continues to demonstrate forward thinking around further decarbonizing their ecosystem,” said Bill Green, managing partner of CAI. “We are excited to be launching this innovative partnership with DigitalBridge.”

“We are pleased to partner with Bill and the entire CAI team to accelerate DigitalBridge’s path towards a more sustainable digital infrastructure ecosystem,” said Marc Ganzi, CEO of DigitalBridge.

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Strata makes hires for P2X strategy

North Carolina-based Strata Clean Energy has made a series of hires for its P2X platform.

Strata Clean Energy has recently made a raft of hires for its P2X platform.

The North Carolina-based renewable energy firm recently hired Hannah Perl as development manager for P2X, according to LinkedIn. She was previously a senior analyst of energy origination and development at TC Energy.

Strata has also recently hired Nancy Estrada, previously a SunCoke Energy environmental manager, as permitting and local affairs manager; and Tamara Becejac, who was previously program manager of green hydrogen at AVANGRID, as senior technical product manager.

Matthew Moshier joined from TC Energy in October as senior director of engineering. And Minashree Singh, who came for Algonquin Power & Utilities, joined Strata’s P2X platform as a senior supply chain manager, also in October, according to LinkedIn.

Strata is developing a pipeline of green hydrogen projects that will produce large amounts of green ammonia and other hydrogen derivatives later this decade, Mike Grunow, executive vice president and general manager of Strata’s P2X platform, said in an interview last year.

The P2X team also includes KJ Plank, Strata’s Chief Innovation Officer.

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Exclusive: CO2-to-X firm seeking platform and project capital

A CO2-to-X development company with proprietary CO2 utilization technology is seeking to raise capital from potential strategic partners that would utilize its product, which can decarbonize industrial emitters while producing hydrogen and carbon monoxide. For methanol production, the company says it can reduce the amount of natural gas required per ton of methanol to 27 MMBtu, compared to the typical 35 MMBtu, “a massive change in a commodity market,” a company executive said in an interview.

HYCO1, a founder-owned CO2-to-X development company with proprietary CO2 utilization technology, is seeking partners to invest at both the platform and project level as it advances a series of commercial proposals.

Based in Houston and owned by its three founders, the firm is developing and commercializing technology that utilizes waste CO2 and methane to produce high purity hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can then be used to make low-carbon syngas, fuels, chemicals, and solid carbon products.

The founders went “all in” on the technology and funded the first $10m for development themselves, and have since raised an additional $10m from two different ethanol producers that are planning to use the product, called HYCO1 CUBE, at their ethanol plants.

“We’re in the process of raising between $20m – $30m this year, with one or more strategics in investment sizes of $10m or more,” HYCO1 co-founder and CFO Jeffrey Brimhall said in an interview.

Beyond that, Brimhall says the firm plans to close on project financing for various projects in development, “which will spin development capital, license fees, and revenue back to HYCO1.”

HYCO1 is having direct conversations for the platform capital with the investment teams from potential strategic partners – like further ethanol producers, or specialty chemical producers and other operators of steam methane reformers.

Using the technology, the company hopes to qualify for tax credit incentives under 45V for the hydrogen produced utilizing recycled CO2 as a feedstock, as reflected in comments made last week to the IRS.

Projects in development

Meanwhile, HYCO1 is advancing a first three projects to maturity: a $175m green carbon syngas project on the US Gulf Coast; a $400m green methanol project on the Gulf Coast; and a $1.2bn green carbon synthetics project at an existing ethanol plant in Lyons, Kansas.

For the Kansas ethanol project, HYCO1 is having conversations with the “top five banks,” Brimhall said, about a project finance deal. 

“We’re starting offtake discussions for both methanol and synthetics,” he said. “And as those offtake discussions firm up, we know for a fact that big intermediaries are going to want to come in and we’re likely going to work with those who have discretionary capital that they can invest on their own account and then pull in others with them.”

The company recently entered into a 20-year carbon dioxide supply agreement with Kansas Ethanol for the project. It will be co-located with Kansas Ethanol and utilize all 800 tons per day of CO2 emitted by the plant to produce approximately 60 million gallons per year of low-carbon and zero-carbon products.

HYCO1 is working to reach FID on the Kansas project by 1Q25, but its critical path depends on getting in the pipeline of an ISODEWAXING provider, such as Chevron or Johnson Matthey, said Kurt Dieker, another HYCO1 co-founder and its chief development officer.

“Assuming a conservative schedule, assuming they get engaged in the next 10 weeks, that would put us in 1Q of next year” for FID, said Dieker, who has deep experience in the ethanol industry, having worked for ICM, the technology behind 70% of the ethanol gallons produced in the US today.

The CUBE

HYCO1’s CUBE technology essentially works as a conversion catalyst applying heat to CO2 and methane to create hydrogen and carbon monoxide, the building blocks of virtually all petrochemical and carbon-based downstream products.

The company built a pilot facility in Houston two years ago, and has been characterizing the catalyst with 10,000 hours of uptime operation and data on how it works, Brimhall said.

As it was advancing the CUBE characterization process, the founders found they could shape the syngas ratio on the fly, moving it from 1-to-1 to above 3-to-1, he added.

“And because we’ve done the 1-to-1 all the way up to 3.5+-to-1, we also know we can produce pure CO by essentially taking the hydrogen off and using it as part of the endotherm that we need to make the reaction work,” he said. “So we could produce anywhere from pure CO to effectively pure hydrogen.”

That level of flexibility with a “single plant, single process, single catalyst” has never been done before, according to Brimhall, and it gives the company “immense capabilities to go into virtually any situation and solve for decarbonization and at the same time make high value products downstream.”

He added, “When we talk to people that really know the space and know industrial gases, they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, you can do that?’”

Methanol efficiencies

HYCO1 is currently in talks with six super major methanol producers about using the company’s technology for methanol supply, Brimhall said.

“Every one of them immediately went to diligence on our technology,” he said, noting that HYCO1 has promised to make natural gas-based methanol production more efficient, requiring only 27 MMBtu of natural gas per ton of methanol versus the typical 35 MMBtu of natural gas. 

“The difference between 35 MMBtu and 27 or 25 is a massive change in a commodity market,” Brimand said, “and whoever owns that technology is going to have a competitive advantage.

The methanol majors are evaluating how to use the technology to their benefit, which, according to Brimhall, might require them to make an investment in HYCO1 along with the first plant. 

“We’ve spent the last three or four months driving the technical diligence part with a team of 15 engineer PhDs to basically come back and say to them, ‘Here’s the proof, here’s the number.’”

HYCO1 plans to offer it concurrently to all of the methanol producers in order to extract the best terms on the first projects, he said.

Project developer or licensor?

HYCO1’s business model comes down to whether they are a project developer or a licensor of technology. According to Brimhall, they are a project developer first and a technology licensor second.

“We have to be project development oriented in our minds across multiple verticals in order to get traction and proof, viability, efficacy,” he said. “So we’re acting in a kind of a super-project developer mode to ultimately get the attention of big offtakers, strategic partners, and potential licensors downstream.”

However, a large licensor will not likely step in to provide a multi-project license until they see the product working at scale given the breakthrough nature of the technology, Brimhall said, and the economics that flow from it.

Take syngas for example, a market dominated by a few large players like Air Liquide, Air Products, and Linde. HYCO1 wants to position its first project in that sector and then start having licensing discussions with those big firms, or additional engineering firms like Technip, Fleur, or Bechtel.

The large firms could provide an initial “bolus” of capital to HYCO1 for having developed the technology “and getting a license that means something, whether it’s geographic or it’s exclusive worldwide or it’s bi-vertical,” Brimhall said.

“There’s an initial payment that commensurates with what the market opportunity is. And then there’s a minimum they’re going to have to step up to in order to keep us satisfied that they’re really a licensor that is going to ultimately realize value to the Topco or HYCO1 as a TechCo.”

“So it’s really project development first, licensing second kind of business model,” he added. “And it’s on multiple verticals. That’s what happens when you have, you know, potent technology.”

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exclusive

Solar-powered hydrogen producer raising capital for EU and US growth

A European JV developing off-grid hydrogen production units using concentrated solar power – “white hydrogen” – plans to raise capital for growth in Europe and the US.

hysun, a Spanish JV between European firms Nanogap and Tewer Engineering, will raise $15m over three years for its first industrial plant and commercialization by 2026, CEO and Co-founder Tatiana Lopez said in an interview.

hysun has not engaged a financial advisor to date, but is open to meetings, Lopez said.

The new venture, formed in November, has raised $2m and is actively seeking another $3m (pre-money valuation of $10m) equity for a100 g H2/h prototype to close by the end of the year.

The company will then need $4m for an industrial plant, locations for which are being scouted now in the US and Europe. After that, the founders intend to enter a commercialization phase.

hysun’s intellectual property allows it to produce off-grid “white hydrogen” via steam generated with concentrated solar technology, Lopez said. The lack of electrolyzers means about eight times less land is needed to generate projects as large as 200 MW assuming 2,500 hours of sunlight per year.

“You don’t need to be next to a wind farm or solar plant,” Lopez said, adding that the hydrogen is produced at $1 per kilo.

Average project sizes range between 50 and 100 tonnes per year, assuming the same amount of sunlight, though the technology is applicable on a micro scale. The company sees the end uses being for ammonia production, replacement of grey hydrogen in industry and remote location deployment.

Lopez said the company is interested in growing in the US and Europe but believes the US will develop its industry faster.

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exclusive

AIMCo-backed midstream infrastructure firm in refi

The company, whose asset footprint includes Gulf Coast hydrogen production, today priced a debt refinancing transaction with an 8.875% coupon.

Howard Energy Partners today priced $550m of senior unsecured notes to refinance amounts outstanding on its revolving credit facility.

The company, which is majority owned by the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), will pay 8.875% on the notes, inside of price talk of between 8.75% – 9%, according to sources familiar with the matter.

RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities are joint active bookrunners on the deal, the sources said.

Howard in 2021 closed on the acquisition of the Javelina Facility in Corpus Christi, Texas — a treating and fractionation plant that extracts olefins, hydrogen, and natural gas liquids from the gas streams produced by local refineries.

Starting in Jan of 2023, a strategic technology partner began producing a low-carbon diesel substitute using Javelina’s hydrogen and CO2 as feedstocks, making it one of the first merchant “clean” hydrogen facilities on the US Gulf Coast, according to the company. HEP is also pursuing carbon capture and sequestration opportunities with its Javelina assets through a joint venture with TALOS Energy and the Port of Corpus Christi.

AIMCo acquired an initial 28% stake in HEP in 2017, and brought its ownership stake to 87% last year following the purchase of Astatine Investment Partners’ stake in the company.

Howard operates in two key segments in the US and Mexico: natural gas and liquids. The natural gas segment includes 1,175 miles of pipelines and approximately 4.3 Bcf/d of throughput capacity and 600 MMCf/d of cryogenic processing capacity.

The liquids segment includes terminalling and logistics services for refined products as well as refinery-focused off-gas handling, treating, processing, fractionation and hydrogen supply services.

Spokespersons for the company, RBC, and TD did not respond to emails seeking comment.

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