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Summit Carbon Solutions wants to add 340 miles of pipeline in Iowa

Summit Carbon Solutions plans to expand its carbon dioxide pipeline footprint in Iowa by about 50% — or about 340 miles — to connect to more ethanol plants, according to new regulatory filings.

Summit Carbon Solutions plans to expand its carbon dioxide pipeline footprint in Iowa by about 50% — or about 340 miles — to connect to more ethanol plants, according to new regulatory filings.

The company is awaiting approval from the Iowa Utilities Board for its initial proposal to lay the backbone of its pipeline system, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported. That plan includes about 690 miles of pipe in Iowa that would connect to a dozen ethanol plants to transport their captured carbon dioxide to North Dakota for underground storage.

The scope of the company’s project in Iowa has expanded considerably in recent weeks and is the result of another company, Navigator CO2, abandoning its plans for a similar system. Two large ethanol producers — POET and Valero — that had initially agreed to be part of Navigator’s project have since signed with Summit.

That has resulted in Summit more than doubling its number of ethanol plant partners in Iowa to a total of 30. There are 42 in the state.

“I view our project as representing a meaningful shift in agriculture to lower the carbon intensity of biofuel products,” Summit CEO Lee Blank said Monday when the company announced Valero’s participation.

Also on Monday, the company indicated it would file for 14 more hazardous liquid pipeline permits in Iowa to connect to the POET and Valero facilities, including one that is in South Dakota. A review of the expansion routes filed with the IUB shows that they will include about 340 miles of new pipe in 22 counties.

It’s possible for Summit to add even more ethanol plants to its proposed pipeline network, said Sabrina Zenor, a Summit spokesperson. The project now includes 57 ethanol producers in five states and is expected to transport more than 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The system has a total capacity of about 18 million metric tons, Zenor said.

Summit and ethanol producers would benefit from federal tax incentives for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere and for producing low-carbon fuels. Ethanol plants would further benefit by being able to sell their fuels into low-carbon markets, either to power vehicles on the road or planes in the air with sustainable aviation fuels. More than half of the corn Iowa farmers produce is used to make ethanol.

Opponents of Summit’s project have wide-ranging concerns, from landowners’ rights and public safety to rich investors capitalizing on government incentives and the long-term preservation of ethanol production, which some view as environmentally damaging.

The IUB is poised to make a decision on the company’s initial permit in Iowa. Summit’s project was initially rejected in the Dakotas, but North Dakota is reconsidering, and the company plans to reapply in South Dakota.

Summit filed requests on Monday with the IUB to schedule public meetings in 22 counties for its expansion plans. The company proposed the first meeting for Adams County on April 22. The rest would be held over the course of about three weeks, ending May 9.

The request for meetings starts Summit’s regulatory processes for what are anticipated to be 14 permit applications. That is the number of new lines that would branch from the original proposal to connect to one or more additional ethanol producers. Zenor said state rules require multiple applications for the proposed expansion.

The affected counties include: Adams, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Clay, Fayette, Floyd, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Ida, Kossuth, Mitchell, Montgomery, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Sioux, Webster and Worth.

Published from the Iowa Capital Dispatch under Creative Commons. Author: Jared Strong.

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Air Liquide invests in two U.S. RNG units

Air Liquide has commenced construction on two dairy-waste RNG units in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Air Liquide has commenced construction of two new RNG production units located in Center Township, Pennsylvania, and Holland Township, Michigan, treating waste sourced from dairy farms, according to a press release.

The production units will produce biogas from manure feedstock in an anaerobic digester for a total production capacity of 74 GWh, and return the digested waste for the farms’ needs, promoting circular economy in waste management. Using Air Liquide’s proprietary gas separation membrane technology, the biogas will then be purified into RNG and injected into the natural gas grid.

Air Liquide has developed competencies throughout the whole biomethane value chain, starting with biogas production from waste, to its purification into biomethane to be injected into gas grids or compression/liquefaction with storage and transportation to customers. Air Liquide currently has 26 biomethane operational production units in the world for a yearly production capacity of about 1.8 TWh, according to the news release.

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Barclays establishes energy transition group

Barclays is establishing a global energy transition group and has named Mike Cormier as its head.

Barclays is establishing a new energy transition group within its corporate and investment bank.

The new group will be responsible for providing strategic advice to clients as they explore potential energy transition opportunities, according to a news release.

The new team will be comprised of industry sector specialists from within Barclays’ global Natural Resources, Power, and Sustainable and Impact Investment Banking teams, focusing on hydrogen, energy transition finance, carbon capture, renewables, nature-based solutions, and renewable natural gas.

Mike Cormier has been appointed as Global Head of the Energy Transition Group, reporting directly to Cathal Deasy and Taylor Wright, Global Co-Heads of Investment Banking, and working in close partnership with Daniel Hanna, Global Head of Sustainable Finance.

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Avangrid and Sempra tentatively planning US green hydrogen

Avangrid and Sempra Infrastructure have entered into a heads of agreement for the potential joint development of US green hydrogen and ammonia projects.

Avangrid and Sempra Infrastructure have entered into a heads of agreement (HOA) for the potential joint development of US green hydrogen and ammonia projects, according to a news release.

The HOA provides a framework for the companies to identify, appraise, and develop large-scale green hydrogen projects to serve US and international customers.

AVANGRID’s background in renewable development as the third largest renewables operators in the U.S., complements Sempra Infrastructure’s project development and commercial expertise across clean power, energy networks and LNG, the release states.

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Exclusive: Pattern Energy developing $9bn Texas green ammonia project

One of the largest operators of renewable energy in the Americas, San Francisco-based Pattern is advancing a 1-million-ton-per-year green ammonia project in Texas.

Pattern Energy knows a thing or two about large renewable energy projects.

It built Western Spirit Wind, a 1,050 MW project in New Mexico representing the largest wind power resource ever constructed in a single phase in the Americas. And it has broken ground on SunZia, a 3.5 GW wind project in the same state – the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Now it is pursuing a 1-million-ton-per-year green ammonia project in Corpus Christi, Texas, at an expected cost of $9bn, according to Erika Taugher, a director at Pattern.

The facility is projected to come online in 2028, and is just one of four green hydrogen projects the company is developing. The Argentia Renewables project in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada is marching toward the start of construction next year, and Pattern is also pursuing two earlier-stage projects in Texas, Taugher said in an interview.

The Corpus Christi project consists of a new renewables project, electrolyzers, storage, and a pipeline, because the electrolyzer site is away from the seaport. It also includes a marine fuels terminal and an ammonia synthesis plant.

Pattern has renewable assets in West and South Texas and is acquiring additional land to build new renewables that would allow for tax incentives that require additionality, Taugher said.

Financing for the project is still coming together, with JV partners and prospective offtakers likely to take project equity stakes along with potential outside equity investors. No bank has been mandated yet for the financing.

Argentia

At the Argentia project, Pattern is building 300 MW of wind power to produce 90 tons per day of green hydrogen, which will be used to make approximately 400 tons per day of green ammonia. The ammonia will be shipped to counterparties in Europe, offtake contracts for which are still under negotiation.

“The Canadian project is particularly exciting because we’re not waiting on policy to determine how it’s being built,” Taugher said. “The wind is directly powering our electrolyzers there, and any additional grid power that we need from the utility is coming from a clean grid, comprised of hydropower.“

“We don’t need to wait for rules on time-matching and additionality,” she added, but noted the renewables will likely benefit from Canada’s investment tax credits, which would mean the resulting ammonia may not qualify under Europe’s rules for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) as recently enacted.

Many of the potential offtakers are similarly considering taking equity stakes in the Argentia project, Taugher added.

Domestic offtake

Pattern is also pursuing two early-stage projects in Texas that would seek to provide green hydrogen to the domestic offtake market.

In the Texas Panhandle, Pattern is looking to repower existing wind assets and add more wind and solar capacity that would power green hydrogen production.

In the Permian Basin, the company has optioned land and is conducting environmental and water feasibility studies to prove out the case for green hydrogen. Pattern is considering local offtake and is also in discussions to tie into a pipeline that would transport the hydrogen to the Gulf Coast.

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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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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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