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Quinbrook Infrastructure moves into renewable fuels

Quinbrook has acquired renewable fuels and biogas company PurposeEnergy.

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a specialist investment manager focused exclusively on the infrastructure needed to drive the energy transition, has acquired PurposeEnergy, according to a news release.

An established US-based renewable fuels and biogas specialist, PurposeEnergy is focused on waste solutions for the food and beverage industries. Over the last 15 years, PurposeEnergy has developed, owned and operated multiple projects that convert organic waste streams to biogas for use in industrial processes, conversion to renewable electricity, or refinement to Renewable Natural Gas (“RNG”).

“Quinbrook is really excited to be moving into such a high growth and important sector that desperately needs more sustainable solutions that convert organic food waste into renewable power and biogas. The demand for renewable fuels is exploding and in PurposeEnergy we have found a highly capable technical and operational team that have been in business over a decade, delivering impactful solutions for customers and the environment,” said Quinbrook’s Managing Partner and Co-Founder David Scaysbrook. “Now is the right time for us to scale this business to realise its full potential. PurposeEnergy is a great example of the Quinbrook model for value-add investing.”

Headquartered in New Hampshire, PurposeEnergy utilizes proven technologies including proprietary methods developed and patented by the company to convert organic waste streams to high value biogas and RNG that is sold to customers under long term contracts. The Company has established an impressive track record developing, designing, constructing and operating projects that have delivered high impact solutions for the food and beverage industry. In many cases, this has enabled customers to materially increase production and improve the economics of their core business.

PurposeEnergy has developed, designed and built seven projects that support the ESG, business and decarbonization objectives of some of the largest food and beverage companies in the world. The Company currently has one project in construction, two starting construction later this year and additional growth projected from existing and new customers. While PurposeEnergy has largely served the food and beverage industries, the Company also works with dairies and depacking operations to convert organic waste streams to energy.

“For more than a decade, PurposeEnergy has demonstrated technical and operational excellence in treating process wastewater and organic residuals for industrial food and beverage producers. The investment by Quinbrook will greatly expand our ability to identify, finance, build and operate new projects, helping our customers achieve their ESG goals while conserving capital to invest in their core businesses,” commented PruposeEnergy Founder & CEO Eric Fitch.

Quinbrook’s acquisition of the Company will deliver the capital resources, enhanced commitment to sustainability and ESG driven impact, and additional strategic relationships to support rapid scale up to meet the growing demand for renewable fuels. The food industry is an attractive sector for investment which is set for enormous growth given more stringent environmental regulations, the critical need for more sustainable solutions for growing food waste and the acute demand for renewable fuels across the board.

Commenting on an example of how PurposeEnergy delivers solutions for its customer partners, Agri-Mark Family Dairy Farm’s Vice President of Strategic Engagement & Sustainability, Jed Davis remarked, “The construction of the Middlebury Resource Recovery Center (MRRC) adjacent to Agri-Mark/Cabot’s flagship cheddar cheese and whey protein plant represents a critical step toward achieving our operational and sustainability goals. PurposeEnergy’s project allows us to send byproducts of cheesemaking to the digester via pipeline, creating renewable energy. This direct diversion eliminates the trucking of over 250 loads per month, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,000 tons a year. Agri-Mark’s family farm owners are committed to protecting the local environment and maintaining a resilient dairy industry for future generations. By repurposing process organics into renewable electricity for Vermont residents, Cabot is providing award-winning dairy products while supporting commitments to our local communities.”

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NovoHydrogen hires director of project development

The new director will be joining a team mandated to develop and deliver renewable hydrogen solutions to large-scale industrial, transportation, and power sector customers.

NovoHydrogen, a renewable hydrogen developer based in Colorado, has hired Jason Harris as director of project development, according to a post on LinkedIn.

Harris previously worked as a director of market strategy at AES Clean Energy and before that held positions at sPower and NextEra Energy Resources.

He will be joining a team mandated to develop and deliver renewable hydrogen solutions to large-scale industrial, transportation, and power sector customers, his post reads.

NovoHydrogen and TigerGenCo in November said they would advance development of green hydrogen capacity to reduce reliance on natural gas at the Bayonne Energy Center located in New Jersey. NovoHydrogen will develop and operate the hydrogen production facility to reduce Bayonne’s carbon emissions.

The company is also a partner in the Aliance for Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES) for the California DOE Hydrogen Hub submission.

Harris did not respond to a request for comment.

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Australia’s Hysata raises $29m Series A

Australian company Hysata has raised an oversubscribed Series A funding round of $29m USD.

Australian company Hysata has raised an oversubscribed Series A funding round of $29m USD.

Virescent Ventures led the funding round on behalf of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) (Aus), with participation from Kiko Ventures (UK), IP Group Australia, Vestas Ventures (Denmark), Hostplus (Aus) and BlueScope (via its ventures arm BlueScopeX TM) (Aus).

Assembling such a high profile and high impact list of investors underlines the significance of the transformation that Hysata is bringing to the green hydrogen industry, according to a press release.

The Hysata electrolyser operates at 95% system efficiency (41.5 kWh/kg), delivering a giant leap in performance and cost over incumbent technologies, which typically operate at 75% or less. This high efficiency, coupled with the simple approach to mass manufacturing and low supply chain risk puts the company on a path to delivering the world’s lowest cost green hydrogen.

Funding from the Series A round will be used to grow the Hysata team and develop a pilot manufacturing facility.

“Our mission is to redefine the economics of green hydrogen production through our innovative proprietary electrolyser technology. The support of this international syndicate of clean energy practitioners and investors validates our core technology and our approach to scaling and mass manufacture,” said Paul Barrett, CEO of Hysata.

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OMERS exec joins CCS project developer

Former managing partner and head of ventures at OMERS Ventures Damien Steel has joined a Montreal-based CCS developer as CEO.

Deep Sky, a Montreal-based venture commercializing carbon removal and storage solutions at scale, today announced that Damien Steel will take the helm as CEO.

Most recently, Steel served as managing partner and global head of ventures at Toronto-based OMERS Ventures (OV), part of one of Canada’s largest pension plans. There, he was responsible for investments, fund operations, and strategic global oversight of the group. During his tenure, he tripled the size of the platform to $2.5bn in assets while generating strong growth. Previously, he held roles with BridgeScale Partners and EdgeStone Capital Partners. Before joining OV, Damien was a healthcare entrepreneur, founding and selling a digital dental laboratory startup. He also serves on the board of tech disruptors, including Hopper, TouchBistro, Hootsuite and DuckDuckGo. Alongside his new CEO role at Deep Sky, Damien will remain a senior advisor to OMERS Ventures.

Steel brings significant finance, climate, infrastructure, and corporate governance experience in the highly regulated Canadian pension business to the position. In 2022, he led the early stage investment into a Toronto-based climate tech startup and gained first-hand insight into how businesses globally are prioritizing climate risk. Steel also led OV’s largest and most successful investment in travel app, Hopper, also started by Deep Sky founders Fred Lalonde and Joost Ouwerkerk. Through his work with Hopper in recent years, Damien has become increasingly committed to tackling the climate crisis.

“For nearly two decades I’ve had the privilege of supporting world class founders in their efforts to build world class companies,” said Steel. “At Deep Sky, I hope to apply all that I’ve learned from these great visionaries to what I believe is the greatest challenge facing humanity today – climate change inaction.”

“Building an ambitious company to reverse climate change requires an equally ambitious, big thinker at the helm,” said Deep Sky Co-Founder Fred Lalonde. “Damien is a proven visionary, leader, fundraiser, and operator who can catapult Deep Sky’s growth to meet the urgent threat that climate change presents. In working together since 2012, he’s demonstrated an uncanny knack for spotting the next moonshot that withstands the test of time. I’m pleased that he’s recognized Deep Sky as his next big bet.”

Deep Sky is working to build large-scale carbon removal and storage infrastructure in Canada. Acting as a project developer, the company is bringing together the most promising direct air and ocean capture technologies to deliver the largest supply of high quality carbon credits to the market. Powered by renewable energy, Deep Sky’s facilities are strategically located in Quebec, a region with an abundance of hydroelectric power, immense wind power potential and a vast territory with the rich geological makeup required for carbon capture.

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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Storage solutions firm in the market for strategic capital

An early-stage provider of hydrogen storage technology has hired a UK-based financial advisor to raise capital for a pilot plant.

Hydrogen carrier technology firm H2Fuel is seeking to raise approximately $25m to build a pilot project, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The Dutch-based company has mandated a UK-based financial advisor to engage potential investors, with capital needs in the $12.5m range of a $25m project cost, the sources added.

In an interview, H2Fuel CEO Peter Huisman said the firm is “location agnostic” in looking for a site for a pilot project, but would prefer the US. Europe and India are also possibilities.

“We are early stage, in our view,” Huisman said. “[An investor will] need to have a long-term view of the market.”

Huisman declined to say which bank his company has hired but referred to it as a “top five” institution.

H2Fuel’s process combines hydrogen to salt, forming an energy-dense solid compound that can be transported and stored in dry conditions without complex requirements. A patented energy release process requires no extra energy, Huisman said.

The company has talked with some large strategics but has been told they are too early, Huisman said. The company views the near-term capital opportunities as one for pension funds or a venture capital.

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Exclusive: Coal bed methane producer seeking capital partners

A western US company producing RNG by injecting biomass into coal seams is preparing a Series B and has a line of site to financing and contracting EPC for a series of projects in western coal fields.

Cowboy Clean Fuels, a Wyoming-based RNG producer, is preparing to launch a Series B to reach commercialization, CEO Ryan Waddington told ReSource.

CCF injects biomass feedstock like molasses into the coal seams of spent coal mines about 1,000 ft. below surface, relying on the endogenous microorganisms living in those seams to produce methane, Waddington said. Capex on projects is low, up to $6m each.

The company raised $10m in a Series A and will seek to raise that same amount for a Series B. The company has been assisted by Syren Capital Advisors.

Projects are set up as separate entities under the parent, Waddington said. Six projects, each ranging from 70 to 300 wells, are in the company’s pipeline now in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.

“We can replicate this 1,000 times,” Waddington said of the immense number of available wells in the region, which can be acquired cheaply. Additional growth could come in the San Juan region of New Mexico, where coal capacity is being retired quickly.

The fuels could be sold as renewable diesel into markets with incentives, like California’s LCFS, Waddington said. The renewable fuel is significantly (10X) more expensive than natural gas produced as a by-product of oil production. But, CCF is not looking to participate in the LCFS program or the EPA-run RFS program.

“The voluntary market for RNG has really taken off,” he said. A contract for renewable diesel offtake is pending with a Wyoming-based oil and gas company looking to lower its CI score.

CCF’s projects are much larger than a typical RNG project, Waddington said; the first project will produce at some 700 cfpy and include 185 tons of CCS. CCF is looking for EPC providers now.

The executive team of CCF has a minority position of the company, Waddington said. The founders and the management team together have a majority position.

The company’s first 139-well project in Wyoming is awaiting final approval from the federal Bureau of Land Management.

CCF is primarily VC-backed to date. The company received approximately $7.8m through the Energy Matching Funds program of the Wyoming Energy Authority early this year.

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