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Siemens Energy planning new US electrolyzer capacity

The company is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Siemens Energy North America is laying the groundwork for new electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in the United States, President Richard Voorberg said during a panel discussion recently.

Siemens Energy, a global energy technology company, makes an 18 MW PEM electrolyzer, one of the largest in the world, and is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Voorberg said.

The company is building its first gigawatt factory in Berlin, Germany via a joint venture with France’s Air Liquide. The Berlin factory is expected to produce 1 GW of PEM electrolyzers per year starting in mid-2023.

“As soon as we get that first one up and running… I’ve got a plan already to put a 1,000 MW line in the US,” Voorberg said, speaking during an event at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Washington D.C. last month.

Siemens’ existing manufacturing capacity in the US could expand to accommodate that new line, or the company could look to build an entirely new facility, Voorberg said. He added that the recently passed IRA helps makes the business case to do so.

Following the IRA, customers went from asking for fractions of a megawatt to seeking 2 GW in a single order, Voorberg said. His 18 MW line is now insufficient.

“We’ve got to scale up,” he said. “Scale is everything.”

Voorberg said his company sees hydrogen being used in electricity production around 2035, but mobility can use it now.

The planned move by Siemens underscores the extent to which the IRA legislation has trained the hydrogen industry’s focus on the U.S. Norway-based electrolyzer producer Nel is speeding efforts to expand electrolyzer capacity in the U.S. And Cummins announced last month that it would add electrolyzer production space at its existing facility in Fridley, Minnesota.

Siemens Energy is independent of Siemens AG, having spun off in 2020. The company has about 10,000 employees in the US and roughly 2,000 in Canada.

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Nikola introduces mobile fuel cell truck fueler

Nikola Corporation has developed a heavy-duty, 700 bar (10,000 psi) hydrogen mobile fueler capable of direct fueling hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

Nikola Corporation has developed an innovative, heavy-duty, 700 bar (10,000 psi) hydrogen mobile fueler capable of direct fueling hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), according to a news release.

Nikola’s mobile fueler program includes its own mobile fuelers as well as a number of third party mobile fuelers, which will provide Nikola’s customers with a variety of flexible fueling options.

“Nikola has spent the greater part of two years developing a flexible mobile fueling solution which cools and compresses hydrogen to rapidly fill 700 bar FCEV heavy-duty trucks,” said Nikola Corporation President and CEO, Michael Lohscheller. “Coupled with Nikola’s hydrogen tube trailer, with a capacity of 960 kg, Nikola’s mobile fueler can refuel customer trucks back-to-back. This will deliver flexible hydrogen fueling solutions for our customers starting in 2023 and will complement Nikola’s permanent hydrogen fueling stations which are being developed.”

Nikola’s first mobile fueler has completed commissioning and testing and has been released for market operation. Nikola has additional hydrogen mobile fuelers being commissioned in Q1 2023.

“Nikola’s mobile fueler program will be an integral part of Nikola’s flexible customer service in its early years by delivering hydrogen to its FCEV customers at locations which meet their needs,” said Carey Mendes, Nikola Corporation president of energy. “Along with Nikola’s portfolio of hydrogen supply and permanent heavy-duty stations, these flexible mobile fuelers will ensure that our customers have complete coverage for their fueling needs.”

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CF Industries execs tout Waggaman ammonia plant acquisition

CF Industries executives touted their agreement to buy the Waggaman ammonia facility and predicted that many of the announced Gulf Coast ammonia projects will not get built.

Amid expectations for continued cost inflation to build the raft of announced Gulf Coast ammonia projects over the next few years, the per-ton cost of CF Industries’ acquisition of the Waggaman ammonia production facility is going to look “really attractive,” CEO Tony Will said today on an investor call.

CF in March agreed to pay $1.675bn to Incitec Pivot Limited to purchase an ammonia production complex located in Waggaman, Louisiana, with nameplate capacity of 880,000 tons of ammonia annually.

Asked about potential cost inflation due to a burst in planning and construction activity for ammonia plants, Will noted that the expects every aspect of the projects to experience cost pressures in the coming years, impacting both the time it takes for the projects to get built and the overall cost picture. (ReSource is tracking eight announced green or blue ammonia projects on the Gulf Coast.)

“The raw materials, the metals, the fabrication, the transportation, the labor — you’re seeing inflation in every single aspect,” Will said. “Remember, none of these projects that have been announced are really under way at this point, so minimum of 2027, maybe 2028 before any of these would potentially start up. It’s one of the reasons that make us so happy about the Waggaman acquisition, because our belief is, by the time some of these projects that are being discussed […] the cost per ton of capacity is going to look really attractive” from Waggaman, he added.

CF is under agreements with JERA Co., Lotte, and Mitsui to advance three separate clean ammonia facilities. It is also advancing green and blue ammonia elements at its Donaldsonville complex, and has entered into an agreement with NextEra to evaluate a joint venture to develop a zero-carbon intensity (green) hydrogen project at CF Industries’ Verdigris Complex in Oklahoma.

Addressing a question about long-term demand dynamics given the prospect of a flood of new ammonia capacity coming online, Will acknowledged uncertainty in the market but expressed confidence in the potential for long-term contracts with counterparties that will use ammonia as a source of clean energy.

“Whether its JERA, Lotte, or a number of others, they’re pretty far advanced in terms of their thinking on some of the pilot projects they’ve run on co-combustion and so forth,” he said. “Our sense is that [demand] is probably going to be developing in larger increments as we get into the ’27 – ’28 timeframe, but by the time we get to 2030 I think there will be a sizeable volume of ammonia consumed in non-traditional applications.”

Will expressed doubts about whether some of the announced Gulf Coast ammonia projects would ever get build. “How real are they, are they actually going to go forward, and are people going to be willing to put the money down?”

Looking back to 2012, Will noted there were around 27 new project announcements, of which only four got built, two of them by CF Industries and the other two by traditional industry participants. “A lot of the speculative plants that were talked about never materialized. And I would expect that same dynamic to happen here,” he said, characterizing some of the announcements as “vaporware.”

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Energy Impact Partners closes decarbonization fund at USD 485m

The fund has already invested in 12 companies, including: Form Energy, Nitricity, Carbon America, Sublime Systems, Electric Hydrogen and Rondo Energy.

Energy Impact Partners has closed the EIP Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund I LP, oversubscribed with global investor support, at $485m, according to a press release.

The fund will invest in climate technologies, focusing on companies that have achieved early technical validation but have not yet reached maturity at scale. It has already invested in 12 companies, including: Form Energy, Nitricity, Carbon America, Sublime Systems, Electric Hydrogen and Rondo Energy.

The investment in Electric Hydrogen was joined by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Capricorn Technology Impact Fund, and Prelude Ventures.

Founded in 2015, EIP has enabled more than 350 contracts, more than $1bn in bookings and business to a portfolio of 100+ companies.

Including this fund, EIP has raised more than $3bn and saw the majority of existing strategic investors commit to the Frontier Fund, adding to a diverse LP base comprised of corporates, banks, sovereign wealth funds, family offices, high net worth individuals and foundations from North America, Asia and Europe.

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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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Biomass technology company launching US projects

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing technology to convert woody biomass into clean fuels.

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing new technology to process woody biomass into an intermediate product that can be further refined into clean fuels.

The company, traditionally a miner focused on gold and silver mining in Nevada, has been transformed into a technology innovator seeking to build, own, and operate a portfolio of carbon neutral extraction and refining facilities in the US, CEO Corrado De Gasperis said in an interview.

“We’re finalizing all of our documentation on readiness and engineering, and then we’ll be working to select an EPC, and then we’ll be ready to bond and finance,” he said.

Comstock, which trades on the NYSE, is currently engaged in the process of securing access to feedstock, and has mapped out nine regions in the U.S. which, combined, produce between 85 – 100 million tons of woody biomass residuals per year.

In parallel, the company is seeking to incentivize growth of trees like hybrid poplar that can be used as feedstock in the future, De Gasperis said. “We’re going to be building the backend of the supply chain with a feedstock strategy, accessing existing residuals, and then building these facilities,” he added.

In Minnesota, for example, there are around 300 sawmills with no place to send their sawdust and excess woodchips following the closure of several wood-to-energy plants, said David Winsness, a president at Comstock.

“Those are the materials that shouldn’t be sitting there – we should be converting them into fuel,” Winsness said.

Building plants

The company has set an objective to generate “billions” in revenue by 2030 – something it would achieve largely through building and operating the woody biomass plants near where the feedstock is located. Comstock also sells related services and licenses selected technologies to strategic partners.

Using simple math, Comstock could achieve its revenue goal by building and operating 10 facilities that produce approximately 1 million tons of clean fuels per year.

A plant producing 1 million tons per year would require capex of between $600m – $750m to build, and would likely be constructed using a project finance funding model, De Gasperis said. The company has not yet selected a financial advisor.

De Gasperis believes large refiners will want to co-build the facilities along with Comstock – which could also entail a strategic equity investment from the selected refiner and lead to a faster construction process.

“Speed and throughput is the goal,” he said, noting that the company has been engaged with roughly 12 of the large clean fuels refiners on a potential partnership. “The faster we’re producing these carbon-neutral gallons, the faster we’re decarbonizing, and the faster we’re making money.”

The company has private equity funds and infrastructure funds on their radar as potential investors but has not engaged with them yet.

The other half

Comstock’s technological breakthrough comes in its ability to produce a biointermediary – called bioleum – from a part of the woody biomass that is not cellulose, and which can be used to produce drop-in fuels. (Importantly, under new EPA rules implemented in June 2022, biointermediaries such as bioleum can be sold on to refiners, whereas previous rules required co-location with the refineries.)

“Cellulose only counts for 50% of a tree,” said Winsness. “For every gallon of fuel generated from cellulose, we’re getting another gallon from the byproduct. It’s a huge change for the industry to be able to get that much more throughput from the same amount of biomass.”

The Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity for projects that can produce more than 60 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood feedstock, De Gasperis said.

“We saw that and we said, ‘We’re already there. We can do much more,’” he added.

Comstock can currently produce about 70 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood, using cellulose. Meanwhile, with the non-cellulose half of the wood in 1 ton of feedstock, the technology can produce an additional 30 – 40 gallons of renewable diesel or aviation fuel.

The company has partnered on a process to convert ethanol to drop-in fuel, with the ultimate goal of producing 100 gallons of drop-in fuels from 1 ton of wood feedstock, according to De Gasperis. “All of our development is to stabilize the breakthrough we had on the bioleum – the heavy cellulose components of the wood is where our technology breaks through and shatters this.”

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Hydra Energy raising equity and debt capital for hydrogen refueling infrastructure

The hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets is pursuing an equity raise that will unlock a debt facility for scaling up hydrogen refueling infrastructure in Western Canada.

Hydra Energy, a hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets, is in the midst of a CAD 14m equity capital raise.

The Vancouver-based company is pursuing the equity raise in support of its Prince George hydrogen fueling station, which is set to be operational in 2024 and would be the largest in the world, Hydra CEO Jessica Verhagan.

The equity portion of the financing is needed to unlock an additional CAD 150m debt facility to complete initial scale-up of the company’s planned hydrogen corridor along Highway 16 in Western Canada, Verhagan added.

Verhagan said the company is not working with a financial advisor on the capital raise but could issue RFPs for advisory services in the future. She declined to name the provider of the proposed debt facility, apart from clarifying that it was not government-sponsored.

“To date, Hydra has been signing up commercial fleets and building out its initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure throughout Western Canada, but the company is about to announce expansion throughout the rest of the country via licensing to a national fossil fuel distributor looking to extend its low-carbon alternative fuel offerings,” the executive said via email.

Hydra’s target market to date has been the roughly 5 million Class 8 trucks within North America, Verhagan said, with the company aiming to “conservatively” capture 1% of that market by 2030 through commercial discussions already underway. Hydra is also exploring expansion into the UK as well as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.

“Hydra’s initial focus has been on proving out its Hydrogen-as-a-ServiceTM (HaaSTM) template which includes the company providing its proprietary hydrogen-diesel, co-combustion conversion kits to commercial fleets at zero cost (in exchange for long-term hydrogen fuel contracts at diesel equivalent prices) as well as an initial hydrogen refuelling station to service 65 Hydra- converted trucks in Prince George, B.C.,” she said.

Verhagan said the company will announce its first electrolysis partner for the Prince George hydrogen refueling station early next year. The station will be able to refuel – as quickly as diesel – up to 24 Hydra-converted trucks each hour across four bays. The station will provide hydrogen from two onsite, 5 MW electrolyzers powered with electricity from BC Hydro.

“The adoption of Hydra’s technology really comes down to availability of low carbon hydrogen – showing fleets it’s possible to go green cost-effectively – and government support to utilize hydrogen to reduce trucking emissions right now,” Verhagan said.

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