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San Francisco VC firms leads funding round for e-fuels company

A San Francisco-based venture capital firms has led a $129m funding round for a German e-fuels developer.

INERATEC, a German e-fuel company, has raised over $129m in its Series B funding round, led by Piva Capital with additional participation from HG Ventures, TDK Ventures, Copec WIND Ventures, RockCreek, Emerald, Samsung Ventures as well as the increased support from current investors, including global corporates like ENGIE New Ventures, Safran Corporate Ventures and Honda.

“This financing round is a major milestone for INERATEC as well as the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable e-Fuels,” said Tim Boeltken, CEO of INERATEC. “With the new capital, we are positioned to catalyze a paradigm shift in the energy sector. Our focus is to scale-up e-Fuels enabled by this new investment. By transforming 1GW of renewable energy into 125 million gallons of sustainable e-Fuel by 2030, we are taking solid steps in creating a viable alternative to fossil fuels.”

INERATEC’s technological advancement is a scalable patented technology that enables the production of ‘drop-in’ e-Fuels. The process involves two main steps: first, turning CO2 and hydrogen into synthesis gas, then using a second reactor to turn the synthesis gas into liquid and solid hydrocarbons. The e-Fuels are compliant with standards targeted for industries heavily relying on fossil fuels, such as aviation, shipping, road transport, and the chemical industry.

Since it was founded in 2016, INERATEC has built and operated numerous pilot plants and is engaged with over 30 customers in the respective fields of application. Additionally, the company has been recognized with several key awards, including the German Founders Award, the Next Economy Award, and the EARTO Award and was recently selected as Top Innovator by UpLink, the Innovation platform of the World Economic Forum.

The new capital will be used to start the mass production of INERATEC’s industrial-scale Power-to-X plants worldwide and advance the production of e-Fuels made from recycled CO2 and renewable energy. Additionally, INERATEC has begun construction of its largest plant to date in Frankfurt and is expanding through international projects in the Netherlands and Chile. This expansion will yield a 1,500 x increase in production, recycling over 12,000,000 metric tons of CO2 annually – the equivalent of what 1,125,000,000 trees would store. Beyond that, the technology will be implemented globally – wherever CO2 and renewable energy are available.

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Brookfield-backed CCS developer raises CAD 200m

BMO Capital Markets advised Canada Growth Fund on a CAD 200m investment in Entropy, which was coupled with a fixed-price carbon credit purchase agreement of up to one million tonnes per annum.

Canada Growth Fund Inc. has entered into a strategic investment agreement with Entropy Inc., a Calgary-based developer of carbon capture and sequestration projects.

CGF has agreed to a CAD 200m investment in Entropy coupled with a fixed-price carbon credit purchase agreement of up to one million tonnes per annum, according to a news release.

Once fully drawn, the investment could result in CGF owning approximately 20% of Entropy. Brookfield will continue to invest the balance of its existing CAD 300m hybrid security into the business, by which point it would be the largest shareholder and control Entropy.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and BMO Capital Markets acted as advisors to Canada Growth Fund Inc.

Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP and TD Securities Inc. acted as advisors to Entropy Inc.

According to the release, the strategic growth partnership represents an important new investment in Canadian carbon markets. The features of the CCO—notably its large scale and its long-term fixed-price—represent a global first in compliance markets. This financeable structure helps to de-risk and accelerate private CCS investment by establishing carbon price certainty for Canadian projects.

One pillar of CGF’s mandate is to invest in projects and technologies, including CCS, that hold significant potential to reduce emissions across the Canadian economy. A second pillar is to scale promising Canadian clean technology champions that can help create value for Canadians.

In March 2022, Entropy announced a strategic CAD 300 million investment agreement with Brookfield, via the Brookfield Global Transition Fund, to scale up the deployment of Entropy’s CCS technology globally. Today’s announcement builds on this strong foundation and provides greater revenue certainty to accelerate Entropy’s major investments in Canada.

Transaction Highlights

  • Definitive agreements between Entropy and CGF to accelerate the decarbonization of hard-to-abate industries in Canada;
  • CGF to invest CAD 200m in Entropy for the development of Canadian CCS projects and for corporate purposes which, once fully drawn, could result in CGF owning approximately 20% of Entropy;
  • Brookfield will continue to invest the balance of its existing CAD 300 million hybrid security into the business, by which point it would be the largest shareholder and control Entropy;
  • CGF to provide the first ever large-scale, long-term, fixed-price CCO in a compliance carbon market, committing to purchase up to one million tpa of carbon credits for 15 years;
  • The initial allocation of CCO commitment will allow Entropy to proceed with its Glacier Phase 2 project, targeting the sale of up to 185,000 tpa of Alberta TIER carbon credits at an initial price of $86.50 per tonne for a term of 15 years;
  • The balance of the remaining CCO will be available for Entropy to underwrite additional third-party projects on similar terms in Canada;
  • Post-investment, Entropy will have approximately CAD 460 million of capital available which, together with investment tax credits, carbon capture incentives and project financing, establishes a path to execute over CAD 1 billion of CCS projects and abate more than 1 million metric tonnes per annum (“MMTPA”) of emissions, with a focus on the Canadian market.

Deal Structure Overview 

CGF’s investment in Entropy is via a hybrid security similar to the prior investment from Brookfield (please see Entropy news release dated March 28, 2022), though at a valuation that reflects the numerous advancements of the business in the last two years. The flexible structure ensures access to capital for Entropy and retains flexible liquidity options for all major investors including Brookfield, CGF and Advantage (the Company’s controlling shareholder). Funding draws from Brookfield and CGF for Canadian projects and corporate purposes will proceed in tandem.

Coupled with the CGF investment, Entropy and CGF have entered into a CCO agreement whereby CGF has committed to purchase up to 9 million tonnes (up to 600,000 tpa over a 15-year term) of TIER or equivalent carbon credits from Entropy projects. The initial project to benefit from the CCO is intended to be Advantage Glacier Phase 2, drawing up to 185,000 tpa at an initial price of $86.50 per tonne, for a total of approximately 2.8 million tonnes over the 15-year term. With this CCO agreement in place, CGF has absorbed the carbon pricing risk for the project. Entropy is therefore pleased to announce provisional final investment decision of Glacier Phase 2.

Beyond Glacier Phase 2, CGF and Entropy intend to enter into separate CCO agreements for other Canadian projects, on terms that are expected to provide similar investment returns. Upon successful deployment of the initial 600,000 tpa of CCO, CGF may make available a further 400,000 tpa of CCOs for additional Entropy Canadian CCS projects.

CGF will nominate one member to the Entropy Board of Directors and is pleased to participate in the growth and evolution of this Canadian clean technology leader. Advantage and Brookfield will retain their existing Entropy board representation.

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Fortescue takes FID on green hydrogen projects

The Australian company will advance three projects involving green hydrogen, including a $550m phase one effort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub and the Gladstone PEM50 Project in Queensland, Australia.

The company will also advance a third project utilizing green hydrogen to trial the production of green iron ore in Western Australia.

Other projects selected to be fast tracked by Fortescue’s are Pecem in Brazil, Project Chui in Kenya and Holmaneset in Norway.

The estimated total investment in the three approved projects is approximately $750m over the next three years. These are three of the first green hydrogen deals ever to be progressed to FID in the United States and Australia, with a pipeline of projects to follow which will significantly scale up Fortescue’s global green energy production.

The Phoenix Hydrogen Hub is an 80 MW electrolyzer and liquefaction facility in Arizona, USA with production capacity of up to 11,000 tonnes per annum of liquid green hydrogen. Total investment is approximately $550m, with first production in 2026.

The total capital investment for phase one is approximately $550m, inclusive of $24m previously approved for the acquisition of the project in July 2023. The total capital expenditure includes approximately $250m on equipment, including electrolyzers, liquefaction plant, power infrastructure and hydrogen storage; and approximately $250m 5 on site construction, EPC contractor and owner’s costs. Capital expenditure is estimated at $80m in FY24.

The project will initially be 100 per cent funded by Fortescue, with an intention to raise project debt and equity funding.

The Gladstone PEM50 Project is a 50 MW green hydrogen project utilising Fortescue’s own electrolyzer technology. Total investment is up to $150m, with first production in 2025.

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Danish partnership constructing green ammonia project

Danish companies Topsoe, Skovgaard Energy and Vestas have started construction of a demonstration plant in Lemvig, Denmark, that will produce green ammonia,

Danish companies Topsoe, Skovgaard Energy and Vestas have started construction of a demonstration plant in Lemvig, Denmark, that will produce green ammonia, according to a news release.

The plant will generate more than 5,000 ton green ammonia annually from 50 MW of new solar and 12 MW of existing wind.

The partnership has received DKK 81m from the Danish Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP).

“An important part of the climate action plan for Lemvig Municipality is to turn the areas’ many energy resources from wind and sun into new green fuels or other future potentials,” the release states.

The plant will be designed to adapt to fluctuations in power output from wind turbines and solar panels.  This will be done by integrating wind, solar, and electrolysis with an ammonia synthesis loop. In addition, the renewable energy generation will be connected directly to the national grid.

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US hydrogen and LNG developer raising capital

A Texas-based project developer is conducting a development capital raise for a flagship LNG and green hydrogen project in the Northeast.

New Energy Development Company, a Katy, Texas-based developer with offices in Boston, Texas, is raising between $5m and $8m for an LNG liquefaction, storage and re-gasification facility with additional green hydrogen production and storage, Partner Scott Shields said in an interview.

The company is not using a financial advisor, Shields said, noting that a larger second round capital raise will likely start near the beginning of 2024.

New Energy has secured a brownfield site for a peak-shaving LNG facility in New England with 2 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and 50 MW of solar pv, Shields said. Also planned is an expandable 40 MW PEM electrolyzer line.

He declined to name the state in which the project is located, adding that the company is trying to put a strong support system and marketing plan in place before the location is made public.

The proceeds of the capital raise will go in part to hiring local lawyers and engineering and design work (pre-FEED and FEED), through to FID, Shields said. The project will be built in two phases, Phase 1 being the LNG component and Phase 2 focusing on green hydrogen.

The LNG facility will be the offtaker for the hydrogen, which will run the plant when the solar is insufficient. Through an open season process New Energy has identified five investment grade offtakers for the LNG.

Ramping capex

“We’ve been self-funding up until now,” Shields said of New Energy, which has also put capital and development resources into half-a-dozen other projects around the country.

It’s time for a ramp up in capital expenditures and New Energy is in discussions with strategic and private equity providers, Shields said, noting that the company would prefer the former. Discussions include options to fund just the flagship project, as well as platform equity.

Shields noted that he has investment banking experience and that New Energy Managing Partner Alexander “Hap” Ellis serves as chairman of Old Westbury Funds and the George and Barbara Bush Foundation.

New Energy has partnered with McDermott International to develop patented GreenER hydrogen facilities, a modular, expandable hydrogen facility that can produce 24,000 kg per day (2,760 MMBtu) of renewable hydrogen. The companies in 2021 completed engineering deliverables for multiple designs which are marketed as ideal for grid-scale blending with natural gas pipelines, blending for existing or new power generating facilities and storage injection into salt caverns and above ground storage tanks.

The company has also combined GreenER LNG and hydrogen production and storage plants into an integrated energy hub, capable of producing an additional 200,000 MMBtu of LNG.

New Energy recently hired Chico DaFonte, formerly a vice president at Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Algonquin Power, as executive vice president working on LNG and hydrogen projects.

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Exclusive: New sustainability hedge fund to raise up to $2bn

A new hedge fund founded by a clean fuels industry veteran is gathering partners to raise up to $2bn initially for deployment into ammonia and other climate-transition technologies.

New Waters Capital, an emerging hedge fund based in New York City, is gathering its primary partners for its first fundraise of between $1bn and $2bn, founder Bill Brown said in an interview.

Brown formerly spent 15 years at North Carolina-based 8 Rivers Capital, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas. Brown, a co-founder, sold his shares to South Korea’s SK, Inc. in that company’s majority takeover of 8 Rivers last year.

Brown recently created New Waters as a multi-strategy fund manager to invest in publicly traded companies in sustainability, AI, and clean fuels.

“The molecule-based economy is really important, and there’s some companies that have been in the molecule-based economy that are not really sure what they’re doing,” Brown said.

This creates an environment ripe for disruption, he said.

The firm is in the process of selecting its prime brokers, which will help determine the size of New Waters’ fundraises, Brown said. The first raise will be conducted in the next six months, and likely not be larger than $2bn to start.

New Waters’ law firm is Seward & Kissel.
The Wild West of molecules

Of all hydrogen produced in the US, about 65% is used for fertilizer production, Brown said. In Japan, where hydrogen is being co-fired with coal, replacing all coal-fired generation with ammonia would require 10 times the current ammonia production of the US.

“The market for molecules is so big, and yet the largest producer in the US of ammonia is CF Industries.” That company has one plant in Louisiana that represents roughly one third of total US ammonia production. “So CF is tiny compared to the opportunities out there.”

Brown said he is looking for the companies that are going to be the Valero and Phillips 66 of ammonia refining. He believes 8 Rivers is on track for something like that.

“We look at companies like that,” he said. “I think that entire market is up for grabs right now; it’s a whole new market.”

 Companies that can seize that market are the companies that are going to be part of the energy system of the future.

“In many respects right now, we’re in the Wild West, if you will, of the molecules of the future,” Brown said.

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Cutting the electricity out of electrolysis

Milwaukee-based start-up Advanced Ionics is seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that cuts electricity needs for hydrogen production to as low as 30 kWh per kilogram.

Advanced Ionics is seeking to ramp manufacturing capacity and raise capital as it begins to commercialize an electrolyzer promising to reduce electricity needs, CEO Chad Mason said in an interview.

The Milwaukee-based company is working to demonstrate its low-cost electrolyzer technology through a partnership with the Repsol Foundation.

The technology will be tested locally, but could grow to include additional tests and, eventually, a commercial relationship with the Spain-based energy and petrochemical company.

Advanced Ionics is looking to move into a larger facility in Milwaukee to advance early-stage production of the electrolyzer, which uses steam from process and waste heat to reduce the amount of electricity required in electrolysis.

The company last year raised $4.2m in a seed round led by Clean Energy Ventures, with participation from SWAN Impact Network. It has also received financial support from Repsol and $500,000 from the DOE.

As it scales, Mason said, the company will also need to raise additional capital, but he declined further comment.

Going to market

The Repsol arrangement is part of the company’s early access program allowing potential end users to take a first look at the technology.

“Repsol is just the tip of the iceberg here,” Mason said. “We’re talking to some really amazing partners at some of the largest energy companies in the world. People who use hydrogen today and want to make it green immediately understand what we’re doing.”

Given the concentration of hydrogen use in petrochemicals and ammonia, Advanced Ionics is targeting these sectors for deployment of its electrolyzers to produce clean hydrogen, Mason added.

Mason noted that, as the traditional petrochemical industry dies off over time, it will be replaced by green materials and green fuels like sustainable aviation fuel and biofuels that require hydrogenation to be useable.

“You’ll see a bit of a replacement happening on the petrochemical side, towards a green chemical,” he said, adding that a third potential key market is green steel production using hydrogen.

Thermodynamically favored

The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

Advanced Ionics’ water vapor electrolyzer

“We set out to build an electrolyzer specifically that would operate at intermediate temperatures,” he said. “And that allows you to have the synergy with those processes, and the downstream effect is the most cost-effective hydrogen you can get.”

The resulting hydrogen could be available for less than $1 per kg – but, Mason notes, the underlying power price math assumes an abundance of cheap, clean power. The models are usually pricing in two cents per kWh, the availability of which, Mason added, is “extremely geographically dependent.”

“If you’re in Texas, you have a system with wind, solar, and some amount of clean energy grid back-up, it’s pretty attractive,” he said. “Or if you hook up to a hydroelectric facility in the Northwest or in the Quebec area.”

Mason added, “Electrolysis rides on the coattails of cheap, clean electricity. What we have under our control is to make sure we’re using as little electricity as possible.”

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