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SGH2 gets green light for California waste-to-hydrogen plant

The Lancaster, California project, which will produce 12,000 kg (1,380 MMBtu) of clean hydrogen per day, was approved by the city's planning commission.

SGH2 Energy Global Corporation’s carbon-negative hydrogen production facility recently cleared its final hurdle when the City of Lancaster Planning Commission approved the company’s use permit (CUP) and environmental impact statement (CEQA).

The approval greenlights the full investment decision (FID) and EPC phase of the project, the company said in a news release.

“This is a major milestone for SGH2, the City of Lancaster and the world,” said SGH2 CEO Robert T. Do. “Not only are we producing more hydrogen with a larger negative carbon footprint than other proposed green hydrogen projects, but we have now cleared a steep hurdle that no other large-scale green hydrogen company has achieved.”

“Our facility has a low environmental footprint with minimal polluting emissions or effluents and meets all California’s strict state and local environmental and safety standards. All the carbon-negative clean hydrogen we produce has long-term off-take agreements and will supply hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) in the Los Angeles metropolitan areas while simultaneously supporting the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) and the Air Resources Board’s (CARB) goal of decarbonizing our heavy mobility footprint,” Do said.

“Lancaster is proud to be home to this ground-breaking project,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “SGH2 is a proven innovator in green hydrogen technology and now has the green light to begin engineering and construction. We are excited to see this cutting-edge project break ground in the U.S.’s first hydrogen city.”

The plant will feature SGH2’s pioneering Solena Plasma Enhanced Gasification (SPEG) technology, which converts rejected recycled mixed-paper waste to clean hydrogen that is carbon negative. This conversion process reduces carbon emissions by two-to-three times more than green hydrogen produced using electrolysis and renewable energy. SGH2’s clean hydrogen will be cheaper than hydrogen produced from natural gas, which comprises the majority of hydrogen currently used in the world. The SGH2 Lancaster plant will produce up to 12,000 kilograms (1,380 MMBtu) of clean hydrogen per day, and 4.5 million kilograms per year (517,000 MMBtu) from the conversion of 42,000 tons per year of rejected recycled mixed-paper waste. The hydrogen produced at the Lancaster facility will be capable of fueling more than 2,000 fuel cell electric cars or 350 fuel cell buses or trucks per day.

With the CEQA and CUP approvals in hand, the SGH2 Lancaster plant will be eligible to receive its $3m grant awarded by the CEC to support hydrogen mobility in the state. SGH2’s hydrogen also meets the requirements in Section 45V of the Inflation Reduction Act clean hydrogen production tax credit, which provides up to $3 per kilogram of renewable hydrogen.

SGH2 Energy Global Corporation is part of the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), California’s public-private effort to create a sustainable statewide clean hydrogen hub. Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a funding opportunity announcement, making $8bn in funding available for 6-10 hydrogen hub proposals. ARCHES received an official encouragement from the DOE to submit a full application, which is due on April 7, 2023.

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Duke to build end-to-end hydrogen facility in Florida

During times of high energy demand, the system will deliver stored green hydrogen to a combustion turbine that can run on a natural gas/hydrogen blend or up to 100% hydrogen.

Duke Energy will break ground in DeBary, Fla., on a demonstration project in the United States to create clean energy using an end-to-end system to produce, store and combust 100% green hydrogen.

The system is the result of collaboration between Duke Energy, Sargent and Lundy, and GE Vernova and will be located at Duke Energy Florida’s DeBary plant in Volusia County, Fla.

“Duke Energy is constantly evolving and seeking ways to provide clean, safe energy solutions to our customers,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president in a news release. “DeBary will be home to Duke Energy’s first green hydrogen production and storage system connected to existing solar for power generation, and we are grateful to the city for allowing this innovative technology in their community.”

The system will begin with the existing 74.5 MW DeBary solar plant providing clean energy for two 1 MW electrolyzer units.

Construction of the project will begin later this year and could take about one year to complete. Duke Energy anticipates the system will be installed and fully functioning in 2024.

The resulting oxygen will be released into the atmosphere, while the green hydrogen will be delivered to nearby, reinforced containers for safe storage. During times when energy demand is highest, the system will deliver the stored green hydrogen to a combustion turbine (CT) that will be upgraded using GE Vernova technology to run on a natural gas/hydrogen blend or up to 100% hydrogen. This will be the nation’s first CT in operation running on such a high percentage of hydrogen.

“Duke Energy anticipates hydrogen could play a major role in our clean energy future,” said Regis Repko, senior vice president of generation and transmission strategy for Duke Energy. “Hydrogen has significant potential for decarbonization across all sectors of the U.S. economy. It is a clean energy also capable of long-duration storage, which would help Duke Energy ensure grid reliability as we continue adding more renewable energy sources to our system.”

Readily available hydrogen is a dispatchable energy source, meaning it is available on demand. It can be turned on and off at any time and is not dependent on the time of day or the weather, like sun, wind or other renewable energy sources known as intermittent.

Dispatchable energy provides a needed element of reliability that will enable us to add more intermittent energy sources, yet still ensure we can meet customer demand, even during extended periods of high demand. Using solar energy to generate green hydrogen enables solar plants to be optimized. Relying on intermittent energy sources without available dispatchable energy sources would put our future electric system at risk of having insufficient energy to serve customer demand.

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FuelCell Energy secures $87m project financing

Investec led the financing effort, with proceeds used to repay existing indebtedness and potentially to accelerate commercialization of fuel cell technologies.

FuelCell Energy has entered into an $87m non-recourse project financing facility. In addition to diversifying the company’s access to capital, the proceeds from this facility were used to repay some of the company’s existing indebtedness and may be used to accelerate commercialization of its hydrogen fuel cell technologies, strategic initiatives, and for other general corporate purposes.

The multi-bank term facility includes Investec Bank plc as Coordinating Lead Arranger and Sole Bookrunner, Bank of Montreal as Mandated Lead Arranger, together with Liberty Bank as Depositary Agent and Lender along with Connecticut Green Bank and Amalgamated Bank as lenders. The 7-year term financing package comprises an $80.5m term loan and a $6.5m Debt Service Reserve Letter of Credit for a portfolio of six operating assets.

“At Investec, we have led more than $10bn in energy and infrastructure project financings over the past five years and this successful closing for FuelCell Energy evidences our continued commitment to help decarbonize the U.S. economy. We believe this financing strategy is ideal for FuelCell Energy, allowing the company to diversify its capital stack as well as access term project capital to support the growth of its business and operations of its existing assets,” said Fred Petit, co-head of Investec’s North American Power & Infrastructure Group.

“This facility enables FuelCell Energy to execute a more efficient financing structure by sensibly leveraging a portfolio of long-term contracted operating assets supported by investment-grade counterparties while attracting a diverse group of lenders and bringing material incremental cash back to FuelCell Energy. We are very pleased to have participation across this expanded bank group,” said Michael Bishop, EVP and CFO of FuelCell Energy. “The 7-year term allows the Company to navigate the current volatility in the fixed income markets and secure project financing at competitive pricing. FuelCell Energy is always looking to diversify our sources of capital while partnering with world class financial institutions such as those represented in this non-recourse facility,” added Mr. Bishop.

Proceeds to the Company following repayment of existing project debt were approximately $46.1m of unrestricted cash and $14.5m of restricted cash to fund performance reserves.

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IFM acquires majority interest in South Carolina RNG firm

IFM Investors has acquired a majority interest in GreenGasUSA, a South Carolina-based developer, owner and operator of renewable natural gas assets.

IFM Investors via the IFM Net Zero Infrastructure Fund (NZIF) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in GreenGasUSA (GreenGas), a US-based renewable natural gas (RNG) developer, owner and operator, according to a news release.

GreenGas is a fully integrated renewables platform headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina with a track record of originating, developing and operating RNG projects. The company utilizes mature technologies to capture, purify and transport biogas from existing organic waste streams for its end use as pipeline quality RNG. GreenGas sells the RNG and associated environmental attributes under long-term offtake contracts with investment grade commercial & industrial customers, such as Mercedes-Benz, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and Duke University.

RNG projects operated by GreenGas can deliver significant emission reductions from waste streams by capturing methane, which has a 25 times more harmful impact on atmospheric warming than CO2 per the Environmental Protection Agency, demonstrating strong alignment with the net zero energy transition.

CEO and Founder Marc Fetten will continue to lead GreenGas alongside the existing management team. The acquisition marks a significant milestone for the company and secures long-term investment capital to expand its footprint of renewable natural gas projects and continue delivering on its mission to help food processors, farmers and industrial manufacturers capture greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

“Our new partner IFM will be investing in GreenGas as a platform to meet the growing demand for renewable energy solutions across the United States,” said Fetten. “Our projects not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but help RNG buyers decarbonize their energy intensive operations. We look forward to working with IFM to grow the platform.”

Launched in 2022, IFM NZIF is an open-ended fund targeting essential infrastructure assets that seek to accelerate the world’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy. GreenGas represents NZIF’s first investment in the low carbon fuels sector, a core target sector of the fund.

“We are excited to welcome GreenGas into the IFM NZIF portfolio and support its next phase of growth,” said Kyle Mangini, global head of infrastructure at IFM Investors. “RNG projects operated by GreenGas can deliver significant emissions reductions, which is well aligned with IFM’s net zero commitments and our purpose to protect & grow the long-term retirement savings of working people.”

Transaction close is targeted for Q1 2023 and subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Marathon Capital, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to GreenGas on the transaction.

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Biomass-to-hydrogen developer in talks for development capital, series A

A California developer that uses woody biomass to make green hydrogen is in discussions to raise capital for project development and a series A funding round.

Yosemite Clean Energy, a California-based biomass-to-hydrogen start-up, is in discussions with potential investors to raise development capital for projects and a series A round.

The company is currently seeking around $20m of development capital that would help advance woody biomass-to-hydrogen projects to FID, CEO Tom Hobby said in an interview.

Hobby said he is also in discussions with strategic capital partners about a series A funding round. The company is not using an advisor for the capital raise, Hobby said, but is working with the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

The company has so far raised less than $2m at the corporate level from friends and family and an additional $5m – including grants – for projects, Hobby added. The development capital as well as the series A raise would be conducted at the project level.

Yosemite has signed a letter of intent and term sheet for offtake from its first project in Oroville, California, which will produce approximately 24,000 kg per day (2,760 MMBtu) of green hydrogen from woody biomass, and is set for FID later this year. Hobby declined to name the offtaker but described it as a “global trading house.”

Hobby, whose family has lived in the Sierra Nevada for generations, emphasizes the company’s role as a partner with local communities to help manage forest waste, which has served as fuel for explosive wildfires in recent years.

“It’s de-risking their communities from catastrophic wildfires,” he said.

Design incentives

Under the original design for the Oroville facility, the company had planned to produce 31,000 kg per day of RNG and 12,200 kg per day of green hydrogen. But due to incentives for green hydrogen in the Inflation Reduction Act, the company has pivoted to a hydrogen-only design, Hobby said.

The $3/kg incentive for green hydrogen in the IRA created “additional value for no real capital cost differential,” he said.

Yosemite’s second project is in Toulumne County, California and will follow a design substantially similar to the Oroville facility.

The company employs dual-bed gasification technology licensed from Austrian firm Repotec, while Primoris is doing detailed design and engineering.

The technology takes wood and creates a medium-strength BTU gas that can be used to make different products, Hobby said. “Once it’s in a gaseous form, we can use it for a lot of purposes: we can take it to make power, we can produce hydrogen, we can use the Fischer-Tropsch process to make second-generation biofuels like aviation fuel, and we have a patent that can do hydrogen and RNG.”

Project ownership

Meanwhile, Yosemite has hired a Texas-based firm to help raise capital for projects, which are estimated to cost $250m at the outset, but could decline once efficiencies are achieved, Hobby said.

The company’s project ownership model is unique in that it seeks to bring in local wood businesses – in logging, land clearing, and orchard removal – as providers of biomass and also equity investors in the projects.

“To have their investment and their wood at the same time is huge,” Hobby said.

In raising capital for the projects, in addition to equity and debt investors, Yosemite is evaluating a mix of sources in the tax-exempt bond market as well as lower-interest loans from within California and export finance solutions. The company recently received two $500,000 Forest Biomass to Carbon-Negative Biofuels grants from the California Department of Conservation.

Hobby would like to build 50 woody biomass plants in California, which would utilize approximately 5 million tons of the 35 million tons of waste woody biomass available annually in the state.

“Our goal is not to have to truck and ship wood more than 50 miles,” he said. “If you put circles around every place in California that’s a decent wood basket […] I think we could sign about 50 facilities across the state.”

The company is also planning to expand beyond California to other states with a low-carbon fuel standard, Hobby said.

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NanoScent seeking new investor to complete blended funding round

NanoScent is seeking a new investor to satisfy the contingencies of a combined EUR 8m investment from existing investors and the European Innovation Council.

NanoScent, an Israel-based technology firm, is seeking a new investor to help solidify an equity investment from the European Innovation Council, CEO Oren Gavriely said in an interview.

To satisfy the contingencies of a combined EUR 8m investment from existing investors and the EIC, NanoScent must bring on a new investor at EUR 2m, Gavriely said.

The ideal investor will have complementary capabilities that can ramp up the revenue stream, Gavriely added. Producers and suppliers of gasses and chemicals for industrial use would make sense.

The money will be used to further develop the proprietary VOCID Purity in-line sensor controller, which measures hydrogen quality by monitoring the cleanliness of gas lines. The technology is oriented towards producers and end-users like fuel cell stations, who will be responsible for the integrity of the hydrogen. The product will be rolled out at the end of 1Q23.

Gavriely said the company has several customers for the technology in the pipeline, declining to say who they are.

NanoScent, founded five years ago, has raised USD 10m in equity to date, with another USD 10m in non-dilutive funding. The company’s largest outside investor is Sumitomo Chemical, which trades on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Control of the company is maintained by the founders, Gavriely said.

NanoScent has 20 employees, Gavriely said. So far the company has relied on the expertise of its board, which includes one former investment banker, for financial advisory services. That could change in the future as the company grows.

NanoScent uses Pearl Cohen for law services and EY for accounting.

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Exclusive: National RNG developer in equity sale process

A large US developer and operator of renewable natural gas projects has tapped an advisor and is in the early stages of a sale process.

DTE Vantage, a developer of renewable energy projects with a national footprint in the US, is in the first round of a process to sell its RNG business, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Lazard is running the process, the sources said. First round bids were recently received.

The company’s RNG portfolio includes 13 projects, four of which are landfill-to-gas while the remainder are on dairy farms, with more under construction, according to company materials. One of the largest RNG producers in the Midwest, the company also has projects in North Carolina, California, New York, and Wisconsin.

Of note, the Riverview Energy landfill gas asset in Riverview, Michigan produces 8.6 mmcfd of pipeline natural gas and includes 6.6 MW of solar. Pinnacle Gas in Moraine, Ohio, produces 4.5 mmcfd, while Seabreeze Energy in Angleton, Texas produces 5.8 mmcfd.

DTE Vantage is a non-utility subsidiary of DTE Energy. Founded in the 1990s, it has about 600 employees and operates 64 projects in 16 US states, with one asset in Canada. The company serves industrial, agricultural, and institutional clients across three core groups: Renewable Energy, Custom Energy Solutions, and Emerging Ventures.

DTE declined to comment. Lazard did not respond to a request for comment.

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