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Spain-based Exolum acquires stake in Houston ammonia terminal

ReSource first reported earlier this year that valuation multiples for the terminal stake held by Moda Midstream were being discussed above 20x EBITDA.

Exolum, a provider of liquid product storage and logistics, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 50% interest in Vopak Moda Houston LLC, an ammonia storage, import and export terminal located on the Houston Ship Channel, from Moda Midstream LLC, according to a news release.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Greenhill & Co., LLC acted as exclusive financial adviser to Exolum, and Haynes and Boone, LLP acted as legal counsel. Intrepid Partners, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Moda, and Vinson & Elkins acted as legal counsel. Shearman & Sterling acted as legal counsel to EnCap Flatrock.

ReSource first reported on the sale earlier this year, with valuations coming in at 20x – 25x contracted EBITDA of $13m.

Vopak Moda Houston (VMH) is a joint venture that is 50% owned by Moda Midstream, an EnCap Flatrock Midstream portfolio company, while the remaining 50% interest is owned by Vopak Terminals North America.

Royal Vopak remains as 50% shareholder in the new joint venture.

The acquisition will enable Exolum to establish a key presence in the U.S. Gulf Coast with existing ammonia logistics infrastructure. The terminal and its partners are currently developing one of the most advanced low-carbon ammonia production and export projects worldwide, with targeted annual throughput capacity of 1.1 million tonnes and 70,000 tonnes of additional storage capacity permitted.

The acquisition of Moda’s interest in VMH will be another step forward in Exolum’s diversification strategy and will position Exolum as a leading manager of infrastructure and decarbonizing fuel in the decades to come. The investment in VMH will serve as a platform for Exolum’s development in the U.S. and the acquisition of key competences in the development of the logistics infrastructures required by the energy transition in order to boost low-carbon fuels.

Exolum’s CEO, Jorge Lanza, highlighted that “Exolum strives to become a key player in the development of supply chains for new sustainable energy products, such as ammonia and green methanol. This operation, our first in the U.S., will enable us to continue strengthening our position in strategic ports and to promote the energy transition and the decarbonization of mobility at an international level”.

Moda Midstream President & CEO Jonathan Ackerman said, “I am proud of the collaboration and hard work among the Moda, Vopak and Vopak Moda Houston teams as we transformed a greenfield site into a brand-new liquids terminal in the Port of Houston. I am excited to see how Vopak Moda Houston will build upon its solid foundation to expand and pursue growth opportunities with global storage leader Exolum as its new partner”.

Maria Ciliberti, Vopak president US and Canada: “I am very pleased with Exolum entering as co- shareholder. By pooling our knowledge, network and experience we can further develop this strategically located terminal and marine infrastructure. The worldwide movement to decarbonize industry and transportation will drive strong global demand for low-carbon ammonia. Our joint venture entity situated on the Houston Ship Channel is very well positioned and can serve a critical role in the energy transition, not only for the USA but also for export markets”.

VMH is the only existing waterborne ammonia terminal on the Houston Ship Channel with a Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC)-capable deepwater berth and is strategically connected via pipeline to the Port of Houston’s petrochemical complex, the largest petrochemical hub in the U.S. and the world’s second largest. The facility currently provides ammonia and natural gas liquid (NGL) storage services.

The facility’s location, large-scale export capabilities, extensive experience in management and ample undeveloped acreage offer new growth opportunities for further development. In October 2023, VMH announced its plans to build a new large-scale, low-carbon ammonia export facility in collaboration with INPEX Corporation, based in Tokyo, Air Liquide Group, based in Paris, and LSB Industries, Inc., based in Oklahoma City.

Ammonia is widely expected to become a driver for decarbonization due to its ability to reduce emissions in hard-to-decarbonize sectors, including power generation, heavy industry, marine fuel, and other mobility methods. With the ability to safely and reliably store and transport ammonia and other pressurised gasses, VMH will be a great contributor to the energy transition supply chain.

With its state-of-the-art ammonia terminal infrastructure and workforce that is ideally located on the Houston Ship Channel, VMH is positioned to become the leading hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia hub on the U.S. Gulf Coast and to facilitate the acceleration of energy decarbonization globally, according to the release.

The transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory reviews and approvals is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.

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Fortescue buys Phoenix hydrogen project for $24m

FFI has invested $24m to acquire the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub from an affiliate of Nikola.

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has made its first major move in the United States following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, investing $24m to acquire a 100% interest in Phoenix Hydrogen Hub, LLC (PHH), according to a news release.

FFI is acquiring PHH from an affiliate of Nikola Corporation.

PHH is developing a proposed green hydrogen project located near Phoenix, in the city of Buckeye, Arizona. Phase One of the PHH project is planned to be an 80 MW electrolyzer and liquefaction facility, capable of producing up to 12,000 tonnes of liquified green hydrogen annually, which can displace the equivalent of 10 million gallons of diesel consumption per year. The PHH project has further capacity to scale up production to help meet future demand.

FFI CEO Mark Hutchinson said FFI’s investment in the PHH has the potential to create hundreds of jobs. First production of green hydrogen from the PHH project is expected by the middle of this decade.

“FFI is actively expanding its U.S. presence and strengthening its position as a leading global developer of green energy production and technology,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“This investment by FFI will greatly strengthen one of the country’s first and most important hydrogen ecosystems and it is a significant milestone in creating the all-important local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of green hydrogen,” he added in the news release.

Nikola provides zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions.

Nikola, whose trucks are manufactured in Coolidge, Arizona, will be a potential customer of liquified green hydrogen from the hub to support the deployment of its heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations in California and the U.S. Southwest.

“Nikola’s priority is to see more zero-emission trucks on the road and this investment by FFI will greatly strengthen one of the country’s first and most important hydrogen hubs,” said Nikola Corporation President and CEO, Michael Lohscheller.

The large-scale deployment of hydrogen as a zero-emission fuel into the transportation sector is expected to benefit not only from the hydrogen tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, but also state level incentives such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California.

Buckeye Mayor, Eric Osborn said: “Buckeye is committed to attracting clean energy businesses to the city, especially near the Sustainable Valley area. This facility adds to our ‘green’ portfolio making Buckeye the perfect location for similar technologies to expand and grow in our community.”

Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said: “FFI’s investment further establishes Arizona as a national hydrogen leader. FFI will advance Arizona’s efforts to create a clean hydrogen ecosystem and build upon initiatives among industry and academia, including the Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network (SHINe), which is focused on developing a Southwest clean hydrogen hub.

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700 MW electrolysis capacity for H2 Green Steel plant

thyssenkrupp nucera will provide electrolysis capacity for H2 Green Steel’s plant in Sweden.

The agreement between the Germany-based specialist for high-efficient water electrolysis, thyssenkrupp nucera, and the Swedish industrial start-up H2 Green Steel, secures capacity of more than 700MW for H2 Green Steel’s electrolysis plant in Boden – making it one of the world’s largest electrolysis plants announced to date.

According to a news release, the agreement with thyssenkrupp nucera will cover alkaline water electrolysis technology (AWE) and large-scale electrolysis plant engineering. thyssenkrupp nucera has a proven track record with more than 600 installed projects and over 10 GW capacity in the chlor-alkali technology, which is the DNA for ‘scalum’, its large-scale 20 MW standard AWE module.

“This electrolyzer agreement indicates a change in market dynamics and is also a proof of our new business model for reservation of production capacity. For customers where time-to-market is critical, ensuring access to production capacity of leading electrolyzer technology becomes essential. With this bold investment, H2 Green Steel has shown a strong commitment to their timeline to decarbonize the steel industry and we look forward to working with them,” says Dr. Werner Ponikwar, CEO of thyssenkrupp nucera AG & Co. KGaA.

Through this collaboration, thyssenkrupp nucera will deliver capacity of more than 700MW to the electrolysis plant, likely making the H2 Green Steel plant one of the world’s largest AWE installation by the time its commissioned.

The giga-scale electrolysis plant, the first globally, is based on a concept where H2 Green Steel uniquely will use several complementing technologies for green hydrogen production, enabling balancing of the system for cost- optimization and operational flow as each technology’s core benefits can be harvested. To build it, H2 Green steel is teaming up with different world-leading partners and expertise in design, construction, equipment, operations and financing.

“The electrolysis plant in Boden will be many times bigger than most electrolyzer installations that exist today. Combining our own strong technical expertise with that of an experienced electrolysis supplier like thyssenkrupp nucera gives us a solid edge in the growing green hydrogen economy, which we will leverage to transform hard to abate industries. We start with steel in Boden, Sweden, but it’s only the beginning,” says Maria Persson Gulda, Chief Technology Officer H2 Green Steel.

Hydrogen produced in the electrolysis plant in Boden will be consumed on-site in a direct reduction process, reducing iron ore to sponge iron, enabling production of green steel. The electrolyzer units will be crucial to maximize the operational and economic benefits of the hydrogen in the steel mill, which also forms the foundation for new patented intellectual property assets.

The work leading up to the signing of the contract was enabled through support from Sweden’s Industrial Leap programme, led by the Swedish Energy Agency.

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First Hydrogen selects Quebec for hydrogen production and vehicle assembly

Vancouver-based First Hydrogen commenced the process to secure and develop sites for the production of green hydrogen and the assembly of zero-emission commercial vehicles.

First Hydrogen Corp. has selected the City of Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada to develop its first green hydrogen ecosystem, according to a news release.

The company has conducted site evaluations and has now formally commenced the process to secure and develop respective sites for the local production of green hydrogen and the assembly of First Hydrogen zero-emission commercial vehicles.

First Hydrogen’s project plan is to produce up to 50 MW of green hydrogen using advanced electrolysis technology and distribute the hydrogen within the Montreal-Quebec City corridor for use with First Hydrogen’s light commercial vehicles (LCV) as well as supporting other hydrogen-fueled vehicles and applications in the region.

First Hydrogen LCVs are planned to be assembled in Shawinigan for distribution throughout North America in combination with the Company’s Hydrogen as a Service product offering. The assembly factory will be designed for an annual capacity of 25,000 vehicles per year when at full capacity and will represent a major boost to green technology jobs in the region.

The Company’s strategy is a close match with the Province of Quebec’s “Plan for a Green Economy” and the “2030 Quebec Green Hydrogen and BioEnergy Strategy” both targeting reduced dependence on fossil fuels, energy autonomy and green prosperity through the use of green hydrogen to decarbonize and strengthen its economy. Further, the Province of Quebec provides a stable and supportive environment for First Hydrogen’s project through its economic, innovation and energy policies and programs aimed at accelerating the pace of the green energy transition.

The project is also consistent with recent federal government announcements supporting green hydrogen and low-carbon fuels initiatives.

Rob Campbell, CEO of Energy for First Hydrogen, says: “Shawinigan, Quebec is a great place for First Hydrogen to plant the flag in North America. Quebec’s first hydroelectric company was established there in 1898 and Shawinigan has a strong history of energy and industry working together. The City and the region are very well positioned with its green energy resources, industrial community and growing green energy economy. It will be also very important to closely collaborate with the regional education network to create the required skills of tomorrow. The region is already the home of the l’institut de recherche en hydrogène de l’UQTR (IRH). Founded in 1994, IRH is one of Canada’s leading institutions in hydrogen research. We wish to thank the City of Shawinigan and Investissement Québec for their ongoing support for this exciting project.”

Balraj Mann, chairman & CEO First Hydrogen states: “We are seeing strong market support for our holistic product offering of zero-emission LCVs and green hydrogen. Customer pull combined with strong Quebec and Canadian policy support has convinced us that now is the time to move forward with this first project. Engineering studies are planned to commence in early 2023. Our announcement today coincides with the unveiling of our next-generation hydrogen fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicle in the coming weeks.”

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Exclusive: Middle market flagship fund to target e-fuels, renewables

A new $1.5bn US-focused flagship fund focused on middle market companies is in discussions with new and existing LPs now and will consider e-fuels and other sustainable molecules in its deployment.

Energy Impact Partners, the New York-based investment firm, is in discussions with new and existing LPs to raise a $1.5bn flagship fund focused on the middle market, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The raise is being done without a financial advisor, the sources said. Once complete, it will target platforms and assets in the $40m to $50m range.

While the fund will be broadly focused on renewables, e-fuels and other sustainable fuels companies will be considered, one of the sources said.

The investment manager has invested in clean fuels via equity positions in Electric Hydrogen, Terragia and Metafuels, among others.

EIP did not respond to requests for comment.

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exclusive

Ambient Fuels evaluating hydrogen project acquisitions

The company is well capitalized following a $250m equity investment from Generate Capital and is now opportunistically reviewing an initial slate of project M&A offerings.

Following an equity investment from Generate Capital, Ambient Fuels has begun to evaluate potential acquisitions of hydrogen projects that are under development, CEO Jacob Susman said in an interview.

“We’ve seen our first project M&A opportunities come through in the last 10 days or so,” Susman said.

Three projects for sale involve land positions, he said. Those that appear most attractive have a clear line of site to offtake or a strong approach to renewable power supply. Two out of three are not on the Gulf Coast.

“In no instance are these brokered deals,” Susman said.

Following the $250m equity investment from Generate Capital, Ambient is capitalized for several years and has no immediate plans to seek debt or tax equity, Susman said. The transaction was done without the help of a financial advisor.

Moving forward Ambient is open to JV formation with a partner that can help access offtake and renewable power, Susman said. Those points will drive future capital investment in the company and were resources that Generate brought to the table besides money.

According to ReSource‘s project tracker, Ambient is involved in at least two of the hubs that were encouraged by the DOE to submit a final application: California’s Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), and the Port of Corpus Christi Green Hydrogen Hub.

In 2021 Ambient completed a funding round led by SJF Ventures. Several other VC funds and angel investors also participated.

In January The Hydrogen Source reported that Ambient was in exclusivity with an equity provider.

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Exclusive: Australian fuels producer looking for US development partners

An Australian fuels producer and concentrated solar power developer partnered with German and US fossil interests is developing its first US clean fuels project in Texas, and is looking for development partners with eyes on the greater southwest.

Vast Energy, the Australia-based and NASDAQ-listed concentrated solar power (CSP) developer and fuels producer, is in the early stages of developing a project near El Paso, Texas – the company’s first in the US – and is seeking US development partners to generate a pipeline of projects throughout the country, CEO Craig Wood said in an interview.

Vast is in process with two projects in Port Augusta, South Australia: VS1, a 30 MW solar/8 MWh storage plant, and SM1, a demonstration solar-to-methanol plant co-located with VS1, producing up to 7,500 mtpa of green methanol from VS1 electricity and heat with extra power available on the grid.

VS1 is scheduled for FID in 3Q24 with FID on SM1 coming the following quarter, Wood said.

Vast recently announced funding agreements with German partner Mabanaft for up to AUD $40m for SM1, after the SM1 project was selected last year as a part of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator (HyGATE).

Methanol from the $80m SM1 will in part be exported to Germany. Vast is also working with EDF to provide additional financing, Wood said.

“Essentially it’s going to be debt free and on balance sheet,” Wood said.

German container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd recently signed an MOU with Mabanaft to explore options for the supply of ammonia as bunker fuel to Hapag-Lloyd in the Port of Houston.

US opportunity

In the US, where Vast listed to be primed for opportunistic growth, the company has a shortlist of locations around El Paso, has engaged with regional economic development leaders, and held early talks with EPC providers, Wood said.

The El Paso project is being developed in conjunction with Houston-based oil and gas drilling business Nabors Industries, Wood said. Nabors backed the SPAC that took Vast public at a valuation of up to $586m in early 2023. Its current market cap is $64m.

There are ongoing discussions on whether to produce eSAF or methanol in El Paso, Wood said.

To produce eSAF, Vast would use a solid-oxide electrolyzer coupled with the Fischer-Tropsch process, Wood said. Meanwhile, the methanol distillation process lends itself well to Vast’s ability to produce low-cost heat.

CSP has a lower level of embedded carbon than any renewables technology other than wind, Wood said.

“The work that we have done to date indicated that you would most likely power an eFuels project with a CSP plant that was configured to operate in the day and night,” Wood said.

As for project costs, envisioning a project producing some 200 million liters per annum, roughly $3bn would be needed for the power station, and then half that for the infrastructure to make the fuels.

Preliminary offtake for the El Paso project is going to be critical for attracting investment, Wood said. Offtake will depend on the type of fuel produced, though conversations are ongoing with shipping companies (methanol) and airlines (eSAF).

“We’re not expecting to have any problem placing the product,” Wood said. Offtake would likely be targeted for the Port of Los Angeles, LAX airport, the ports of the Gulf Coast, or Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Development of CSP makes sense anywhere climate is sunny and hot, Wood said. The company could logically expand into more of West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California.

The region around Farmington, New Mexico is particularly attractive for CSP development, Wood said. As a huge amount of coal-fired capacity in that area is retired, those interconnections, workforces and resources are ripe for repowering.

The turbines that one of those coal fired power stations would have is the same turbine at the core of Vast’s technology, Wood said. One difference is that Vast’s can be turned on and off quickly.

Development partnerships 

There is an opportunity for Vast to find a development partner, or partners, to stand up a pipeline of projects in two to three years’ time, Wood said.

“Almost everyone wants to wait until our project in Port Augusta reaches COD,” Wood said. “But we don’t want to wait that long to be developing projects in the US.”

Vast is capable of building CSP plants, which can be configured to operate in the day and night, co-located with existing larger-scale solar pv to provide additional generation and, critically, storage, Wood said. By directing sunlight to receivers and heating molten salt, CSP can store energy for 12-to-20 hours overnight to alleviate solar pv’s intermittency issues.

“Coming along and essentially retrofitting complementary CSP next to those [pv plants], we think is a very sensible way to go, both in terms of shared cost but also in terms of managing incremental transmission build,” Wood said. “We’re looking for people we can have conversations with.”

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