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Sumitomo and Hoegh Autoliners studying ammonia bunkering

The parties have signed an LOI to study the supply of clean ammonia as a bunker fuel at the ports of Singapore and Jacksonville, USA from 2027 onwards.

Sumitomo Corporation and Höegh Autoliners have signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on the supply and delivery of clean ammonia as a next-generation sustainable maritime fuel for Höegh Autoliners’ upcoming Aurora Class PCTC vessels.

The twelve state-of-the-art vessels are set to become the largest and most eco-friendly car carriers ever built, with the capability to run on zero-carbon ammonia or carbon-neutral methanol, according to a news release.

Under the agreement, the parties will look into the supply of clean ammonia as a bunker fuel at the ports of Singapore and Jacksonville, USA from 2027 onwards.

Moving forward, the companies will embark on a comprehensive evaluation of the compatibility between the PCTC vessels and the ammonia bunkering facilities at the identified bunker ports. They endeavor to make necessary adjustments to specifications for both “shore-to-ship” and “ship-to-ship” bunkering operations and undertake safety assessments to establish standardized operational protocols and regulations in close coordination with pertinent government agencies.

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Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan acquires RNG firm Sevana Bioenergy

Ontario Teachers has acquired a majority stake in the RNG developer and made a capital commitment of $250m.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board has entered into a strategic partnership with Sevana Bioenergy that will see it acquire a majority stake in the business and make a capital commitment of $250m to develop renewable natural gas (RNG) projects across North America, according to a press release.

Sevana is a pioneer in the RNG industry, developing and upgrading large-scale biogas projects to increase the production and use of RNG through the reduction of organic waste.  Sevana has successfully executed dairy and organics projects which include more than 20 state-of-the-art digester tanks across agricultural regions such as Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota since its founding by CEO John McKinney in 2017.

Sevana led these innovative projects to deploy more than $350m under construction and worked closely with farmers to form long-term beneficial partnerships as part of its strategy to own and operate reliable digester facilities. Sevana’s team of in-house experts has over 150 years of combined experience designing, operating, and maximizing performance of anaerobic digesters with projects worldwide.

“We are pleased to partner with John and the Sevana team to help accelerate their efforts to develop advanced digester facilities that produce RNG and electricity for transportation fuel, EV charging and other forms of energy,” said Zvi Orvitz, senior managing director, Sustainability & Energy Transition, Private Capital at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. “Sevana has a demonstrated track record of success in the implementation of cutting edge RNG facilities, and we are excited by the opportunity to further scale the company as it enters its next chapter of growth.”

RNG is an important tool in the decarbonization of transportation, heating and industrial energy consumption and Sevana is a market leader entering new markets with RNG related products. Sevana’s projects capture fugitive methane emissions from farm animal and other organic waste streams that contribute to climate change and use this waste to produce low-carbon renewable power and RNG to replace fossil fuel-based energy sources. The company boasts a deep pipeline of future development opportunities and is also actively considering acquisition opportunities across the U.S.

“We welcome Ontario Teachers’ and look forward to our partnership as we work toward our objective of providing decarbonization solutions from RNG and continuing to enter new markets with related products” said Steve Compton, president at Sevana Bioenergy. “This commitment accelerates development of our industry leading projects that contribute direct economic and sustainable benefits to local communities and reduce greenhouse gases.”

Sevana is the latest investment by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan in the Sustainability and Energy Transition sector and will serve to advance the organization’s commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Ontario Teachers’ on the transaction. Fredrickson and Byron served as legal counsel to Sevana.

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EverWind Fuels reaches agreement for CAD 125m loan

Export Development Canada has reached an agreement in principle for a CAD $125m loan for a proposed green hydrogen facility in Nova Scotia.

EverWind and Export Development Canada have reached an agreement in principle on terms for a $125m debt facility to support the project, pending final due diligence, according to a news release.

This loan will support clean power generation and clean hydrogen production that will be able to be exported to markets in Germany and around the world, as well as for domestic consumption.

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Exclusive: Green ammonia firm in capital raise for flagship Texas project

A green ammonia firm is working with a bulge-bracket bank and undergoing a capital raise for its flagship project in Texas.

Green ammonia firm First Ammonia is undergoing a capital raise for its first project at the Port of Victoria, in Texas.

The New York-based company is aiming to take a final investment decision on the construction of the facility by mid-2024, Co-founder and CEO Joel Moser said in an interview.

The project is expected to be just the first in a global pipeline of green ammonia facilities that will eventually add up to 5 million MTPA of green ammonia production within a ten-year time horizon, Moser added.

The Port of Victoria project entails an up to 300 MW facility under an offtake arrangement with Germany’s Uniper, with First Ammonia evaluating building a first phase of 100 MW or building all under one financing, Moser said. Each 100 MW module will initially produce up to 100,000 MTPA of green ammonia. 

The 100 MW train of the project is estimated to cost approximately $300m, while the full 300 MW will cost between $900 – $1bn, he said.

“We like to think of ourselves not as a developer but as an industrial company, and the investors that we are likely going to be engaging with are interested in not just project one but our entire business model,” he added.

The arrangement with Uniper is “more than a heads of agreement,” Moser said, declining to specify further other than to say that the announcement “reflects an advanced stage” of their work together.

The company is in talks with debt and equity investors that would project finance the facility following a 70/30 debt-to-equity split, he said.

“We are evaluating financing and construction alternatives as to doing all 300 MW under one financing and a single build-out or two separate processes and will make that call in early 2024,” he said.

The firm is working with a bulge-bracket bank as an advisor for the capital raise, Moser said. He declined to name the advisor.

A regulated investment fund has committed seed capital to First Ammonia, which includes funding development capital to the FID stage, Moser said.

Beyond Texas

First Ammonia has contracted with Haldor Topsoe for 5 GW of solid oxide electrolysis for its project portfolio, which amounts to 5 million MTPA.

In the US, the company has a second project under development in New Mexico, for which Moser believes there will be ample offtake markets.

The inland New Mexico project is close to rail transport which can be used to take product to California or to a Gulf Coast port.

“The largest demand for green ammonia right now is to replace grey ammonia for its current uses, and that is in the chemical, refrigeration, and fertilizer industries,” he said, noting RED III regulations in the EU are driving demand for green ammonia. 

He added that the shipping industry will be another major demand center, in addition to replacing coal in Japanese power plants.

“You can move ammonia into Europe by barge” to many power plants that are serviced by bodies of water, he said, noting that these plants are likely to be converted to ammonia-burning facilities. Meanwhile, plants that are not accessible by water will more likely be serviced by hydrogen pipelines, he said.

Moser believes the Port of Victoria facility and other future projects will comply with the EU’s RFNBO standards as well as strict guidelines for 45V in the US.

For its technology, First Ammonia chose solid oxide electrolysis for several reasons.

“SOEC electrolysers are the future,” he said. “They use less renewable power.”

He added that, since SOECs run at high temperatures, the wasted heat from ammonia production can be captured and fed into the electrolysis process.

“If you’re making water into ammonia as opposed to stopping at the hydrogen point, you’re much better off with an SOEC than any other product.”

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Illinois ethanol company seeking offtaker for SAF project

Seeking to diversify into new markets, Marquis, a family-owned ethanol producer based in Illinois, is looking for an offtaker for its first sustainable aviation fuel plant.

Marquis, a family-owned ethanol producer based in Illinois, is seeking an offtaker for its first sustainable aviation fuel plant.

The company, which is developing the plant in partnership with LanzaJet, an SAF firm, recently completed a feasibility study for the project, and is looking for airlines or users of renewable diesel as offtakers, Dr. Jennifer Aurandt Pilgrim, the company’s director of innovation, said in an interview.

Marquis owns and operates a 400 million gallon per year ethanol plant – the largest dry-grind ethanol plant in the world – which produces sustainable ethanol for fuel and chemicals as well as a feed for the aquaculture and poultry industries.

The company will divert roughly 200 million of those gallons to make 120 million gallons per year of SAF and renewable diesel, Aurandt said, noting that Marquis is looking to branch into new markets where ethanol is a feedstock.

“As more electric vehicles come on, there will be about a 3 billion gallon demand destruction for ethanol, and SAF is one of the great markets that we can diversify into,” she said.

Aurandt said financing for the SAF facility will ultimately depend on who the offtaker is.

Use cases

United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Inc. recently formed a joint venture – Blue Blade Energy – to develop and then commercialize SAF technology that uses ethanol as its feedstock.

SAF using corn as a feedstock does not currently qualify for incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, which uses standards laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization that effectively exclude corn-based SAF from qualifying.

Marquis and other ethanol producers are pushing for the adoption of a lifecycle greenhouse gas model, known as GREET, developed by the Argonne National Laboratory, that would allow corn-based feedstock to qualify, said Dustin Marquis, the company’s director of government relations.

The company is also looking to attract partners to set up operations in the Marquis Industrial Complex, which is touted as a 3,300-acre industrial site with natural gas lines, access to multiple forms of transportation, and carbon sequestration on-site.

“We’re looking for other businesses where there would be either vertical integration or business synergies between the two organizations,” Marquis said.

Marquis said in a news release it would develop two 600 ton per day blue hydrogen and blue ammonia facilities along with manufacturing for carbon neutral bio-based chemicals and plastics.

CO2 utilization

In its production process, Marquis makes 1.2 million tons of biogenic CO2 per year, and has applied for an EPA Class IV permit for sequestration.

“We like to say it’s direct air capture with the corn plant,” Aurandt said, adding that the CO2 is purified via fermentation to 99.9% pure, and will be injected into a formation that sits beneath the Marquis Industrial Complex.

The company is additionally developing a CO2 utilization project with LanzaTech, which would augment ethanol production using CO2 as a feedstock. The project was recently awarded an $8.54m grant from the US Department of Energy, the largest award in the category of corn ethanol emission reduction.

“We can increase the amount of ethanol that we produce here by 50%,” Aurandt said. “So we could make 200 million gallons of ethanol per year” from CO2, she added, noting that the pilot demonstration will be the largest CO2 utilization project in North America. It is expected to be operational in late 2024.

The SAF plant and the CO2 utilization project will use hydrogen for refining and as an energy source, respectively, Aurandt said.

Gas Liquid Engineering is the EPC for the CO2 unit, and Marquis will use compressors from Swedish multinational Atlas Copco.

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Exclusive: Former green hydrogen executive raising capital for fusion startup

A former executive that developed large hydrogen and ammonia projects in Texas is raising money in a new role with a fusion energy firm with ambitions to co-locate generation with heavy industry and fuels production.

Tokamak Energy, the UK-based fusion energy startup, is seeking to raise about $80m in a self-conducted Series C capital raise, President Michael Ginsberg told ReSource.

The company previously hired Bank of America to run a $1bn raise but pulled back on the process in favor of more incremental growth, Ginsberg said. The company has already raised $40m of the $120m Series C and is aiming for a close by mid-summer.

With US operations in West Virginia (where co-founder Mark Koepke is a professor of physics at WVU) and headquarters in Oxford, England, Tokamak was recently included in the US Department of Energy’s multimillion-dollar Fusion Development Program and partnered with General Atomics on advanced magnet technology.

Ginsberg previously worked as vice president of technology and project execution at Avina Clean Hydrogen, where he was instrumental in developing the Nueces Clean Ammonia project in Texas. He said Tokamak is planning to build fusion generation in the United States, but has a magnets business with a near-term return profile.

Magnets business

Tokamak is a developer of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.

They are developed for fusion to contain plasma energy, but like the semi-conductor business, they’ve had applications in other industries, such as defense, offshore wind turbines, and mineral separation.

First revenue from those magnets, from another fusion company, came in last year, he said. There are ongoing contract negotiations with the US Department of Defense and an imaging device maker that uses magnets.

Rail companies interested in maglev (from magnetic levitation) technology are also in discussions with Tokamak, he said.

Turnaround for that business for investors is expected to be three to five years, Ginsberg said.

Fusion-to-X

Tokamak is planning to develop its first commercial scale plant (COD after 2030) in the US.

Requirements for site selection are dependent on nearby capabilities; if deuterium and tritium are to be used as fuels, there needs to be a nearby facility that can handle those hydrogen-isotope fuels. For example, Oak Ride National Labs in Tennessee can handle tritium.

The other siting concern is use case.

“It could be, certainly, pumping electrons onto the grid, in which case your limited by transmission lines,” Ginsberg said. “But also, we could create industrial thermal energy, thermal heat, and co-locate with decarbonized heavy industry.”

Co-location with data centers is another option, he said. Tokamak is also exploring hydrogen production.

“Obviously you could do the traditional electrolysis process, and we’re talking to some companies that just need electrons to convert the H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, and they want baseload power to do that as opposed to intermittent power,” he said. “Also, there’s thermal energy and thermal processes to produce hydrogen that we could use from the fusion reaction.”

Ginsberg, who oversees US operations at Tokamak, was hired following the DOE award.

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Exclusive: Biofuels developer interviewing bankers for capital raise

The developer of a renewable diesel and SAF plant in East Texas is seeking a banker for assistance raising development and FID capital.

Santa Maria Renewable Resources, a biofuels developer with a project in East Texas, is interviewing bankers for an upcoming capital raise.

The Houston-based firm is seeking a banker to help it raise some $40m in development capital, in a role that would then pivot to arranging project finance for a final investment decision, CEO Pat Sanchez said in an interview.

The company recently announced its selection of Topsoe as technology provider for the 3,000-barrels-per-day facility, which will produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. It also tapped Chemex to conduct the FEED study.

Sanchez is the former COO of Sanchez Midstream Partners, having left in 2020 after preferred shareholder Stonepeak took over the company.

He perceives headwinds for capital raising in the biofuels space, but believes the project profile he is promoting is superior to peers due to its hedged profile and the incorporation of a sustainable agriculture component that extracts additional value from an oilseed.

The superior returns, which he claims are north of 25% on an unlevered basis, “come from the integration of two industries” – biofuels and agricultural commodities – “on one site.”

Using Topsoe technology, the proposed plant can swing between 100% SAF to 100% renewable diesel, depending on the needs of the offtaker.

The project has an agreed-upon term sheet for offtake with an oil major. Under the agreement, the oil major is required to deliver feedstock in the form of camelina, canola, and soybean, he said.

Only one company in the U.S. closed on a development capital raise for a bio-based fuel project in 2023. That company was DG Fuels, and it raised up to $30m in development capital for a woody biomass-based Louisiana SAF plant expected to cost $4.2bn and reach FID in 2024.

“There seems to still be some headwinds in some companies on the biofuels side that are struggling to raise development capital,” Sanchez said, noting that the biofuels and clean energy sectors were some of the worst performers in 2023.

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