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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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Carbon removal firm spins out of UCLA contracted with Boeing

Equatic has a pre-purchase agreement with Boeing for its carbon-negative hydrogen and currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Carbon removal company Equatic recently spun out from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management to deploy the first technology combining CO2 removal and carbon-negative hydrogen generation, according to a news release.

Alongside the launch, Equatic is announcing that it has entered into a pre-purchase option agreement with Boeing, a leading global aerospace company. Under the agreement, Equatic will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and will deliver 2,100 metric tons of carbon-negative hydrogen to Boeing.

“The oceans are the world’s largest reservoir of carbon dioxide. One quarter of the world’s daily CO2 emissions are drawn down into the ocean,” the release states. “Equatic’s technology accelerates and amplifies this natural cycle to remove and durably store CO2. The entire removal and sequestration process happens within the boundaries of an industrial carbon removal plant, enabling Equatic to precisely measure CO2.”

Equatic currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. One hundred percent of the CO2 removed from these pilots has been pre-sold, including via pre-purchase agreements with global payment solution provider, Stripe.

Equatic expects to reach 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons of carbon removal for less than $100 per metric ton by 2028.

“Furthermore, Equatic will become a dominant producer of carbon-negative hydrogen — hydrogen created from processes that reduce atmospheric CO2,” the release states. “The hydrogen will be sold as a clean energy source to decarbonize industrial processes, produce electricity for the transportation sector, create Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and fuels for trucking, and power the Equatic technology itself.”

Equatic emerges from UCLA with over $30m in initial funding including grants and equity investments from organizations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, YouWeb Incubator, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, PUB: Singapore’s National Water Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

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Amazon investing big in direct air capture

The online retail giant entered a carbon removal agreement with an Oxy DAC project in Texas, and took a stake in a separate DAC developer.

Amazon has made its first investments in direct air capture (DAC) as part of its Climate Pledge commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a news release.

Amazon is supporting the world’s largest deployment of DAC technology by committing to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over 10 years from STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored naturally across more than 290,000 acres of U.S. forests—roughly half the size of the state of Rhode Island. Carbon captured under this agreement will be stored deep underground in saline aquifers, which are large geological rock formations that are saturated in salt water.

1PointFive is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.

In addition, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is making an investment in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company recognized for its pioneering modular DAC systems. These systems are designed to be easily upgraded over time with next-generation sorbents that filter carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, facilitating cost reductions driven by rapid material science advancements.

In DAC technology, CO2 in the atmosphere is filtered out and stored in underground geological formations, or used to create products such as building materials, like concrete, bricks, and cement. With these new investments, DAC will become one component of Amazon’s broader sustainability strategy, which also includes developing nature-based solutions such as forest conservation and restoration.

“Amazon’s primary focus is to decarbonize our global operations through our transition to renewable energy, building with more sustainable materials and electrifying our delivery fleet, and global logistics,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. “We are also pursuing changes such as reducing the weight of packaging per shipment for our customers. At the same time, we also need to seek every possible avenue to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. These investments in direct air capture complement our emissions reductions plans, and we are excited to support the growth and deployment of this technology.”

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LIFTE H2 acquired by US and Canadian strategics

The US-based operations of LIFTE H2 will become the US subsidiary of a Canadian utility, while its custom Asset Performance Management platform has been acquired by a separate US hydrogen strategic.

The US-based operations and infrastructure solutions of LIFTE H2 will become the US subsidiary of Canada’s Powertech Labs, according to the companies.  

Headquartered in British Columbia, Powertech Labs is a subsidiary of the government-owned BC Hydro.

Separately, the company’s digital Asset Performance Management platform has been acquired by Massachusetts-based Electric Hydrogen.

Resource reported in April that Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners had been hired to help LIFTE H2 conduct a Series A.

Powertech USA, the new subsidiary, will serve the US and Canadian markets.

“Powertech USA will provide a family of infrastructure solutions including hydrogen export systems, high-capacity transport trailers, mobile refuelers, and fueling stations,” a post on LinkedIn states. “Together, these solutions form the market’s first end-to-end hydrogen fueling solution – integrating the movement of hydrogen from the production outlet to the vehicle inlet.”

Powertech USA will be led by Angie Ackroyd, LIFTE’s co-founder and chief technology officer, according to Lifte’s website. Jeremy Maunus, LIFTE’s COO, along with Matthew Blieske, LIFTE’s CEO, will continue to support the Powertech USA team in advisory roles.
The post describes the management platform as a synchronized workspace designed to manage hydrogen data, assets, and people. 

LIFTE H2 will continue operations in Europe. The company has offices in Berlin.

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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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Exclusive: Liquid hydrogen at room temp: Tech firm raising money to scale

A provider of liquid organic hydrogen carrier technology is finishing a second seed round with designs on a Series A next year. The technology allows hydrogen to be transported as a liquid at room temperature.

Ayrton Energy, the Calgary-based provider of liquid organic hydrogen carrier storage technology, is preparing to launching a second seed round and plans a $30m Series A next year, CEO Natasha Kostenuk told ReSource.

Ayrton, with 10 employees, allows hydrogen to be transported as a liquid at room temperature, Kostenuk said. The liquid can also be transported in existing infrastructure while mitigating pipeline corrosion.

The company’s target customers are hydrogen producers, utilities and hub-and-spoke logistical servicers.

To date Ayrton has raised $5m from venture capital and a similar amount will come from the next seed round, Kostenuk said. A 30 kg per day pilot project with a gas utility in Canada is underway and Ayrton will look to 10x that next year, she said, with eyes on 3 metric tonnes per day commercialization.

“It scales like electrolyzers,” she said of the technology. “We can get very large, very easily.”

Ayrton is now engaging investors and potential advisors, Kostenuk said. “It would be good to engage with us now.”

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Exclusive: California IPP considering hydrogen options for gas generation portfolio

A California-based IPP is considering burning hydrogen in the thermal plants it acquires, as well as in a portfolio of gas peaking assets it is developing in Texas and the western US.

Nightpeak Energy, the Oakland-based IPP backed by Energy Spectrum Capital, is planning to have wide optionality to burn hydrogen in the gas plants it acquires, as well as in quick-start peaking natural gas assets it is developing in Texas and the western US, CEO Paris Hays said in an interview.

“There’s just not a lot of places in this country where you can procure enough hydrogen at a reasonable price to actually serve wholesale electricity customers,” Hays said of the existing hydrogen landscape.

Still, OEMs are figuring out in real time which of their deployed fleet can burn hydrogen, he said. Studies on blending seem to be yielding positive results.

“That’s great news for a business like ours, because we can have optionality,” Hays said. When interacting with equipment providers, conversion to hydrogen is an important, if expensive, discussion point.

“We want to be in a position to be able to do that for our customers,” Hays said. “We can offer a premium product, which is kind of rare in our business.”

Nightpeak recently purchased Saguaro Power Co., which owns a 90 MW combined cycle power plant in Nevada. That facility is a candidate for hydrogen repowering, Hays said, though that’s just one option for an asset that is currently cash-flowing well.

The Nevada facility is close to California, which notably is a market with a demonstrated appetite for paying green premiums, Hays said.

“We wouldn’t manufacture hydrogen ourselves, we would be a buyer,” he said. “This is one path that any plants we own or develop could take in the future.”

Nightpeak has yet to announce any greenfield projects. But Hays said the company is developing a portfolio of “quick-start” natural gas generation projects in ERCOT and WECC. Those assets, 100 MW or more, are to be developed with the concept of hydrogen conversion or blending in mind.

Proposition 7, which recently passed in Texas, could present an opportunity for Nightpeak as the legislation’s significant provisions for natural gas development has pundits and some lawmakers calling for the assets to be hydrogen-ready.

Investor interest in being able to convert gas assets to burn hydrogen reflect an important decision-making process for Nightpeak, Hays said.

“Does it makes sense to just buy a turbine that only burns natural gas and may be a stranded asset at some point, or would we rather pay and select a turbine that already has the optionality?” Hays said. “Putting price aside, you’re always going to go for optionality.”

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