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Renewable hydrogen developer to launch series A round next month

A Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer has hired an advisor and will launch a series A funding round next month.

NovoHydrogen, the Colorado-based renewable hydrogen developer, will launch a series A capital raise in the middle of March to take on a new investor for project development and hiring, CEO Matt McMonagle said in an interview.

The company has hired GreenFront Energy Partners to run the process, McMonagle said.

NovoHydrogen builds its projects onsite with customers, as close to end use as possible, he said. The company serves transportation (heavy road transport, shipping and aviation), industrial (cement, glass, metal, steel, food, etc.) and power (peaking power and diesel generator replacement). Most of Novo’s customers are users of grey hydrogen looking to decarbonize. In the case of cement, they are looking to replace diesel for their trucks and coal and natural gas for their kilns.

“We first look to see if we can put our projects on our customer sites and make it there,” McMonagle said. “If we can’t do that, we’ll do offsite, but we still try to be as close to customers as possible to minimize that midstream component or distribution component.”

About 30 projects are in development in the US, ranging from a few megawatts to hundreds of megawatts, McMonagle said. NovoHydrogen’s most active markets are the West coast, Northeast, Appalachia, Texas and the Rocky Mountains, though the company is not geographically constrained.

The company aims to begin construction on its first projects by the end of this year, possibly early next year, McMonagle said. The first project could reach COD in 2024.

NovoHydrogen recently announced that it has closed its seed funding round and appointed four executives to its board of directors. Each of those executives represent an investor that participated in the seed round, McMonagle said.

The new board appointees are: Jeremy Avenier, an active investor at Ohmium International; Peyton Boswell, managing partner at Woodfield Renewable Partners; Bruno Franco, partner at Pacífico Energia and managing partner at PWR Capital; and Joseph Malchow, a managing partner at Hanover (a Silicon Valley VC), board member and investor in Enphase and board member and investor in Archaea.

More money

“We will certainly need more money as our projects mature,” McMonagle said. “I do not have the hundreds of millions of dollars on my balance sheet to build these projects.”

An ideal investor will bring accretive capabilities in hydrogen, in a field like value chain equipment or delivery, to the table, McMonagle said.

NovoHydrogen plans to be a long-term owner-operator of its projects, McMonagle said. That is an important point for customers: that the company is not going to sell the project and not care how the next owner operates.

“We want to earn future business from these customers,” McMonagle said, adding that most of them are transitioning piecemeal.

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.

TigerGen owns the power plant and is the offtaker in that project. Ohmium International is providing the PEM electrolyzers in that project. McMonagle said the company may use other electrolyzer providers for future projects.

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

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Bloom Energy partners for expansion in Spain and Portugal

The California-based company has teamed with Telam Partners, a leading senior advisory firm specialized in the financing and market entry of energy, infrastructure, and technology projects.

Bloom Energy has teamed with Telam Partners, a leading senior advisory firm specialized in the financing and market entry of energy, infrastructure, and technology projects, to expand Bloom’s footprint into Spain and Portugal, according to a press release.

The two companies will market and deploy the Bloom Electrolyzer, as well as Bloom’s Energy Servers, supporting customers with solutions that can efficiently meet their energy security needs and green hydrogen demand.

“Business and political leaders are looking for clean technologies and energy solutions,” said Tim Schweikert, senior managing director of International Business Development, Bloom Energy Inc. “Bloom is now engaged to address these priorities in Spain and Portugal. Telam is a partner of choice, supporting Bloom’s long-term commitment to the Iberian Peninsula and to respond promptly to green transition policies and environmental imperatives.”

“At Telam we are excited to be able to work with the solid oxide fuel cell leader on the very important and urgent challenge of transitioning towards renewable energy,” said Jaime Malet, CEO of Telam Partners. “We are convinced that Spain and Portugal, thanks to an abundance of wind and solar resources, are among the clearest candidates to lead the production of green hydrogen in Europe.”

In line with Spanish and Portuguese objectives to become global green hydrogen hubs, Telam and Bloom will market Bloom’s solid oxide electrolyzer. With impressive efficiency confirmed in testing at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Labs, the Bloom Electrolyzer provides hydrogen with low cost of ownership. Further, the Bloom Electrolyzer is well suited for large-scale installations, as well as projects such as ammonia and renewable fuels synthesis, which can be integrated with the electrolyzer.

Telam and Bloom will also market Bloom’s highly efficient fuel cell Energy Server™ to decarbonize port activities when ships are at berth. Bloom’s fuel-flexible technology, which can operate on natural gas, biogas or hydrogen, produces electricity without combustion and reduces carbon emissions compared to the auxiliary diesel gensets usually used for shore power.

This represents Bloom Energy’s first deal for the Iberian Peninsula. It confirms Bloom’s commitment to the European market, after announcing the installation of its energy platform at Ferrari’s Italian plant and a strategic partnership for the Italian market with the engineering, procurement and construction company CEFLA in 2022.

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Mitsui investment arm appoints US-based CEO

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has appointed a California-based CEO of its investment arm to oversee a $100m budget for investment in climate tech. The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments.

MOL Switch, a recently established investment arm of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, has appointed Tomoaki Ichida as CEO.

Ichida has held the position of executive officer at Mitsui O.S.K. Lines since April of last year, and was promoted to managing executive officer in conjunction with his appointment as CEO of the investment arm, according to a LinkedIn post.

MOL Switch was established earlier this year to invest in startups developing decarbonizing technologies in the energy sector. MOL Switch will invest $100m in total over the next three years.

Ichida is based in Palo Alto, California, according to LinkedIn.

MOL Switch aims to access innovation, build new networks, explore new business opportunities, and expand human capital by investing in startups developing technologies and business models that help decarbonize our group companies and society, according to a news release. MOL Switch will invest in technologies related to next-generation clean energy, carbon removal, and battery storage.

The booming containership market in recent years has provided Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a strong financial base that enables it to make aggressive new investments, according to a presentation.

MOL Clean Energy, US, a subsidiary of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, earlier this year became a JV shareholder in Ascension Clean Energy, a proposed world-scale, clean hydrogen-ammonia production and export facility in Ascension Parish.

The MOL Switch venture capital strategy mirrors its Japanese counterpart, JERA, which earlier this year launched JERA Ventures to invest $300m in start-up companies that have leading-edge technologies or business concepts and in venture capital funds that have close connections to such companies.

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NextEra leads Series B for hydrogen firm

Modern Hydrogen, previously known as Modern Electron, has completed an oversubscribed $32.8m Series B-2 funding round led by NextEra Energy.

Modern Hydrogen has completed an oversubscribed $32.8m Series B-2 funding round led by NextEra Energy, with strategic investors & partners Miura and National Grid Partners also participating, according to a news release.

Existing investors Gates Frontier, IRONGREY, Starlight Ventures, Valo Ventures and Metaplanet continued their participation and expanded their investments as part of the funding round.

Modern Hydrogen will leverage the investment to scale-up the capacity of its hydrogen production units. This will further accelerate decarbonization of gas networks and support distributed production of hydrogen, all without a reliance on new hydrogen pipelines or massive infrastructure upgrades. The capital will also be utilized to expand the company’s clean carbon material offerings and boost its global market presence via the partnership with Miura in Japan.

The company also announced the move away from its previous name, Modern Electron, to shape the new brand of Modern Hydrogen. This new identity reflects its commitment to innovation in the clean hydrogen economy. As Modern Hydrogen, the company will continue to provide the exceptional technology and products its customers have come to expect and will continue expanding offerings of clean energy and materials under the “Modern” umbrella.

The participation of NextEra Energy, Miura, and National Grid Partners in this funding round highlights their confidence in Modern Hydrogen’s vision and potential to clean up one of the largest sources of energy in human civilization today: Natural gas. These strategic investors bring a wealth of expertise in the energy, technology, and industrial equipment market, which will be invaluable as the company continues to scale and innovate.

“As a leading manufacturer of industrial boilers, our mission is to make it ‘actionable’ for our customers to decarbonize the heat. Among the various hydrogen production and transportation pathways, the clean hydrogen production at point of use from natural gas is unique, and bundled with our hydrogen-fired boiler, it will be a great solution to the customers who have limited access to clean hydrogen in the other pathways. Participating in the COP27 last year, I strongly felt the need for immediate climate action. Together with Modern Hydrogen, we will work toward hydrogen deployment as early as possible,” said Daisuke Miyauchi, president & CEO MIURA Co., Ltd.

“National Grid is mobilizing to help our customers reach net zero, and hydrogen plus renewable natural gas are key pillars of our strategy,” said Lisa Lambert, chief technology & innovation officer of National Grid and founder & president of National Grid Partners. “Modern’s technology could help our gas customers adopt clean hydrogen sooner by making low-CO2 hydrogen affordable onsite. Moreover, by pairing Modern’s pyrolysis technology with renewable natural gas in National Grid’s network, we have the potential to achieve negative emissions without the high cost of CO2 capture.”

“NextEra Energy Resources sees Modern Hydrogen’s potential to support the emerging hydrogen economy using technology that can provide clean hydrogen on-site, without liquefaction, transport or storage,” said Elena Bueno-Gonzalez, vice president, Clean Energy Solutions, NextEra Energy Resources. “In addition to our industry-leading wind, solar and battery energy storage portfolio, NextEra Energy Resources offers comprehensive decarbonization solutions, such as renewable natural gas and green mobility. NextEra Energy Resources believes that Modern Hydrogen will enable yet another exciting clean, cost-effective option for commercial and industrial customers.”

“There are 3 million miles of natural gas pipelines in the USA alone. And the delivered price of natural gas is much cheaper than that of delivered electricity, typically by a factor of 3 to 5 times,” explained Tony Pan, co-founder and CEO of Modern Hydrogen. “By stripping out the offending carbon atom from gas at the end of the pipe, before it has a chance to become CO2, Modern’s technology can deliver decarbonized gas – aka clean hydrogen – on location. Thus, Modern can deliver this hydrogen to the end consumer, without the decades and billions of dollars it would take to build out hydrogen infrastructure. Sidestepping the need for new pipes and transmission permits will be invaluable in achieving speed & scale in realizing the clean hydrogen economy.”

“Negative emissions technologies are required to meet humanity’s climate goals,” notes Modern Hydrogen Co-founder and CTO Max Mankin. “We can generate net negative emissions by applying our pyrolysis technology on carbon-neutral gases such as biogas. The solid carbon we pull out from the gas is directly weighed, so every ton of solid carbon we put into products and building materials are verifiable emissions captured, avoided, and utilized.”

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EnCap’s Shawn Cumberland on the fund’s approach to clean fuels

Cumberland, a managing partner with EnCap Energy Transition, discusses how the clean fuels sector compares to the emergence of other new energy technologies, and outlines the firm’s wait-and-see approach to investment in hydrogen and other clean fuels.

EnCap Energy Transition, the energy transition-focused arm of EnCap Investments, is evaluating scores of opportunities in the hydrogen and clean fuels space but doesn’t feel the need to be an early mover if the risk economics don’t work, Managing Partner Shawn Cumberland said in an interview.

Houston-based EnCap prefers to invest in early stages and grow companies deploying proven technologies to the point that they’re ready to be passed onto another investor with much deeper pockets. There are hundreds of early-stage clean fuels companies looking for growth equity in the space, he said, but the firm believes it’s not necessary to deploy before the technology or market is ready.

Given the fund’s strategy of investing in the growth-equity stage, EnCap gains exposure to a niche set of businesses that are not yet subjected to the broader financial markets.

For example, when EnCap stood up Energy Transition Fund I, a $1.2bn growth capital vehicle, the manager piled heavily into storage, dedicating some $600m, more than half of the fund, to the sector.

“That was at a time when all we saw were some people putting some really dinky 10 MW and 20 MW projects online,” he said. “We absolutely wanted to be a first and fast mover and saw a compelling opportunity.”

The reasons for that were two converging macro factors. One was that the battery costs had come down 90% because of EV development. Meanwhile, the demand for batteries required storage to be built out rapidly at scale. So, that inflection point – in addition to the apparent dearth of investor interest in the space at the time – called for early action.

“We were sanctioning the build of these things with no IRA,” Cumberland said.

‘If it works’

To be sure, EnCap is not a technology venture capital firm and waits for technologies to be proven.

As such, the clean fuels sector could end up being a longer play for EnCap, Cumberland noted, but the fund continues to weigh whether there will be a penalty for waiting. In the meantime, regulatory issues like IRS guidance on “additionality” for green hydrogen and the impact of the EU’s rules for renewable fuels of non-biological origin should get resolved.

Still, market timing plays a role, and the EnCap portfolio includes a 2021 investment into Arbor Renewable Gas, which develops and owns facilities that convert woody biomass into low-carbon renewable gasoline and green hydrogen.

Cumberland also pointed to EnCap’s investment in wind developer Triple Oak Power, which is currently for sale via Marathon Capital. That investment was made when many industry players were moving toward solar and dropping attention to wind.

Now, clean fuels are trading at a premium because of investor interest and generous government incentives for the sector, he noted.

“Hydrogen, if it works, may be more like solar,” Cumberland said, describing the hockey-stick growth trajectory of the solar industry over 15 years. If the industry is cost-competitive without subsidies, there will be a flood of project development that requires massive funding and talented management teams

“We won’t be late to the party,” he said.

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Exclusive: Wisconsin RNG portfolio for sale with large renewables portfolio

A major Canadian utility is auctioning off four Wisconsin RNG assets as part of a larger renewables selldown. The subsidiary at auction has previously indicated that it would take part in Northeastern US hydrogen development.

Algonquin Power & Utilities is selling a package of four renewable natural gas assets, totaling 532 mmbtu, in Wisconsin as part of a larger renewables auction, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

JP Morgan is advising on the process, codenamed Project Power, the sources said.

The process comprises mostly operational onshore wind (2,325 MW) and solar (670 MW), along with an 8 GW development pipeline across 10 power markets, according to a teaser seen by ReSource. The renewable assets are collectively known as Liberty under the Algonquin banner.

The pipeline includes 1,600 mmbtu of RNG. The operational RNG assets reached COD in 2022.

Algonquin did not respond to requests for comment. JP Morgan declined comment.

The Wisconsin assets are apparently the former Sandhill Advanced Biofuels projects, which were acquired by Algonquin in 2022.

When that acquisition was made, it was announced that Liberty had signed on as a “hydrogen ecosystem partner” in the multi-state Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub. That hub ultimately was not selected by the US department of Energy for hub funding.

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See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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