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Renewable fuels developer attracts investment from Sumitomo, pivots to SAF

Louisiana developer Strategic Biofuels has attracted investment from Sumitomo Corporation of the Americas and pivoted its flagship project to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

Strategic Biofuels, the developer of a renewable fuel plant in Louisiana, and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (SCOA), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, have entered into a Joint Development Agreement for the Louisiana Green Fuels (LGF) project at the Port of Columbia in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana.

SCOA will take an anchor position and lead the formation of a Japanese-based investment consortium aimed at funding the majority of development capital needed to carry the project to Financial Investment Decision (FID) and commencement of construction in early 2025, according to a news release.

As part of the agreement, SCOA will also acquire rights at FID to participate for a portion of the full project equity requirement. In a decisive strategic shift related to the investment, Strategic Biofuels also unveiled plans to change its primary renewable fuel product to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SCOA intends to provide a 20-year offtake for the approximately 640 million gallons of renewable fuels produced as well as all state and federal renewable fuel credits.

“Our goal has always been to bring online a fuels plant contributing to a sustainable future, and we are thrilled to have SCOA as our partner in our LGF endeavor. The shift to SAF is an exciting moment for us and our partners, for the energy landscape in Louisiana and for the greater global energy transition overall,” said Dr. Paul Schubert, CEO of Strategic Biofuels. “Although we have a lot of work ahead of us, our team is fully prepared to advance the project to FID and supply SCOA with SAF.”

When the LGF project was first announced, Strategic Biofuels garnered recognition for the extraordinarily low carbon footprint of the planned renewable diesel fuel product. The footprint of SAF that will now be produced is expected to be so low that just one gallon of it blended with three gallons of fossil-derived jet fuel will reduce the dependency on carbon in the future. To achieve this carbon reduction in 2029, the LGF plant will utilize:

  • Approximately 1 million tons per year of forestry waste as the feedstock for the biorefinery;
  • Green energy from an integrated biomass-fired power plant that will take nearly 1 million tons of sawmill waste annually to produce 86 megawatts of power; and
  • Geologic carbon sequestration of 1.36 million metric tons per year of CO2 produced from both of those operations to create this fuel which is equivalent to removing nearly 300,000 passenger cars from the road, making it a product much in demand by the aviation industry.

“Our partnership with Strategic Biofuels is just another example of our commitment to support the energy transition within the Americas,” said Sandro Hasegawa, General Manager, Energy Innovation Initiative Americas at SCOA. “Supporting the LGF project means bringing groundbreaking technology to the Port of Columbia that enables the local economy and sustains the natural environment. We look forward to leading the investment with our partners in Japan and demonstrating what can be accomplished when global players work together.”

This investment commitment from SCOA continues the path from 2023, which was a year of rapid project advancement for LGF. Most recently, Strategic Biofuels announced that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality had issued an Air Permit for the integrated LGF facility, an industry “first of its kind” in Louisiana and a major step forward for the project. This followed an agreement with SLB, a global technology company, to provide its industry-leading technical services for the company’s planned carbon sequestration complex. Earlier in the year, the EPA deemed the project’s Class VI permit application for carbon sequestration as “administratively complete,” which included extensive geologic data collected from LGF’s 2021 Class V stratigraphic test well.

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EUR 220m granted for Spanish H2 production

The European Commission has approved a EUR 220m Spanish measure to support Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios, S.A. in the production of renewable hydrogen for use in industrial sectors.

The European Commission has approved a  EUR 220m Spanish measure to support Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios, S.A. (COBRA) in the production of renewable hydrogen for use in industrial sectors, according to a press release.

The measure is in line with the EU Hydrogen Strategy and the European Green Deal targets, meant to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition in accordance with the REPowerEU Plan.

COBRA, which is not yet active in hydrogen production, will start producing renewable hydrogen at large scale via water electrolysis. The renewable hydrogen produced will be used for external industrial off-takers, in particular in energy-intensive and hard-to-abate sectors such as refineries and ceramics.

The aid, which will take the form of a direct grant, will support the construction and the installation of electrolysers in the Spanish regions of Cartagena and Castellón. The two electrolysers will have a total capacity of 205 MW and are expected to produce approximately 8,550 tonnes of renewable hydrogen and 6,840 tonnes of oxygen per year. The electrolysers are envisaged to be constructed in stages, with the first electrolyser operating as of 2023.

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Electrolyzer startup EVOLOH raises $20m Series A

The raise for California-based EVOLOH was led by Engine Ventures with participation from NextEra Energy Resources and 3M Ventures.

EVOLOH, Inc., a cleantech company that manufactures electrolyzer stacks for hydrogen production, today announced it has raised an oversubscribed $20 million Series A round led by Engine Ventures. Additional participating investors include a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources and 3M Ventures.

The capital will be used to expand the company’s scalable, high-throughput manufacturing technology and introduce additional capabilities for its NautilusTM platform of advanced liquid alkaline electrolyzers, according to a news release.

EVOLOH is making low-carbon hydrogen globally accessible by revolutionizing the manufacturing of electrolyzers. While incumbent electrolyzers are notoriously expensive and difficult to produce, transport and install, and rely on politically and environmentally challenging supply chains, EVOLOH’s manufacturing facility will offer an 80% reduction in capital investment and footprint.

“This round of funding positions EVOLOH to lead the electrolyzer manufacturing market by transforming electrolyzer stacks into affordable, efficient hardware commodities made with 100% local supply chains,” said Dr. Jimmy Rojas, founder and CEO of EVOLOH.

Electrolyzer stacks, the core component of electrolyzers, are offered via EVOLOH’s NautilusTM platform and made from abundant materials like steel, plastic and aluminum and do not require precious metals or rare earth materials. To reduce the CAPEX and OPEX of hydrogen plants using EVOLOH’s Advanced Liquid Alkaline technology, the NautilusTM stacks use low-cost power electronics and do not require corrosive electrolytes. EVOLOH’s NautilusTM stacks are very compact, and can be built into modules of 24 megawatts, making them ideal for large industrial applications.

Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner at Engine Ventures and EVOLOH Board member, added, “EVOLOH has a timely and massive opportunity to not only commercialize better and more affordable electrolyzers, but also introduce a faster and more sustainable electrolyzer manufacturing platform. With an impressive founding team and early partnership activity, EVOLOH is a strong addition to Engine Ventures’ portfolio of cleantech and advanced manufacturing companies.”

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Data: Japanese Companies in North American Clean Fuels Projects

An updated look — following JERA Co.’s framework with ExxonMobil, announced last week — at the Japanese firms that are making investments and forging project partnerships as that island nation seeks a North American footing for low-carbon fuels.

Here is an updated view of the Japanese firms with involvement in North American clean fuels projects, following the announcement last week that JERA Co. established a framework to potentially offtake and invest in a low carbon hydrogen and ammonia project at Exxon’s Baytown Complex.

Japan is one of the largest importers of hydrogen worldwide, and it’s betting big on clean hydrogen for its decarbonization, planning to spend over $20 billion over the next 15 years to subsidize its production and supply chain.

In addition to investing to increase local capacity, Japanese firms are also focusing on importing clean fuels, with an eye on North America and the United States specifically, where project developers are increasingly looking to South Korea and Japan as buyers.

Many Japanese companies are actively participating in clean fuels projects across North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and biofuel projects.

Around 4% of all clean fuels projects in North America have one or more Japanese firms involved as co-developers, equity investors, or off-takers. The investments are mostly in the United States, and companies like Mitsubishi and Mitsui, which have a long history of US investments, are the most active.

Without committing to specific projects yet, developers like Sempra Infrastructure and 8 Rivers have signed MoUs with Japanese counterparts to promote the development of a clean energy supply chain, while others, like Intersect Power or Hydrogen Canada, are explicitly targeting Japan as an end market for their hydrogen products.

See a full list of North American projects with Japanese involvement.

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RNG developer selling landfill gas portfolio

A Texas-based renewable natural gas developer has tapped an advisor and is selling a portfolio of waste-to-energy projects.

Morrow Energy, an RNG developer based in Midland, Texas, is working with a financial advisor to sell off a portfolio of waste-to-energy projects.

Sparkstone Capital Advisors, a boutique advisory firm based in Virginia, is the sellside advisor on the sale, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Morrow and Sparkstone did not respond to requests for comment.

The Morrow portfolio in the US consists of 12 projects in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, and Washington, according to its website.

Of note, Morrow has developed the Blue Ridge Landfill High BTU project, which is designed for up to 13,000 SCFM of raw landfill gas and can be expanded to up to 30,000 SCFM. Gas from the facility is sold and delivered to vehicle fuel markets in the US.

The company is led by Paul Morrow, its founder and president, who has worked in the RNG industry for over 20 years. Morrow Energy built its first renewable gas facility in the year 2000.

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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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