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Technip Energies makes commitment to Vancouver cleantech fund

Evok launched Fund II in 2022, and will continue to accelerate the energy transition with a focus on sectors such as carbon capture, electrification and hydrogen.

Technip Energies has invested in Evok Innovation’s Fund II, a tier-one cleantech fund that invests in and supports hard-tech development to accelerate the path toward net zero with a focus on next-generation sectors such as low carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and removal, electrification and critical minerals.

This investment makes Technip Energies the first strategic partner with Engineering Procurement and Construction capabilities within Evok’s investors ecosystem, according to a news release.

As a leading venture capital firm investing in early-stage technologies for hard-to-decarbonize sectors, Evok focuses on expediting the advancement of critical energy-transition technologies. Bringing together a group of proven technologists, company builders and climate investors, the fund supports startups by providing them with the necessary resources, networks, and expertise to scale their operations and achieve maturity.

Evok’s investment sectors encompass carbon capture, use and storage, clean fuels, electrification, and industrial decarbonization, areas that closely align with Technip Energies’ markets.

Beyond generating outsized returns for its shareholders, the investment connects Technip Energies with a network of emerging hard-tech players and merges its engineering expertise and global project delivery know-how with the ecosystem’s visionary approach. It demonstrates Technip Energies’ commitment to creating an affordable, sustainable and reliable energy future.

Samir Karoum, chief strategy and sustainability officer of Technip Energies commented: “We are delighted to join Evok’s Fund II – a reputable venture capital fund with a proven track record of scaling cleantech companies – as a strategic investor. By bringing our engineering, technology and project competencies in fields such as hydrogen, clean fuels and carbon capture, we set the stage for a new wave of innovations that will certainly shape a sustainable future”.

Marty Reed, founding partner of Evok Innovations, said: “We’re very glad to have Technip Energies join Evok’s Fund II as a strategic limited partner. Technip Energies’ vision and commitment to a Net Zero goal by leveraging clean technologies, along with its global experience in engineering and industrial scale-up, can help accelerate the commercialization of our startup technologies.”

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European Union gives 213m to Faurecia for clean mobility

Faurecia will develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form.

Faurecia, a subsidiary of the French FORVIA Group, will receive EUR 213m from to develop lightweight carbon fiber gaseous hydrogen tanks as well as a tank to store hydrogen in cryogenic form, according to a news release.

The money is dedicated to Faurecia’s Historhy Next project. Faurecia’s plant in Allenjoie will produce over 100.000 tanks per year, start of production will be in 2024.

In addition, fuel cell supplier Symbio, a joint venture between Faurecia and Michelin, is also among the 10 projects supported by the French government in IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest), which has dedicated EUR 2.1bn to support the hydrogen industry in France.

A large-scale transformation project, Hymotive will accelerate the mass production of its latest-generation fuel cell systems in Saint-Fons.

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NOVA Infra and Nopetro Energy form new RNG and biofuels JV

Nopetro Renewables, a newly formed company, will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach.

NOVA Infrastructure, a middle-market infrastructure investment firm, has partnered with Nopetro Energy to create a renewable energy platform focused on renewable natural gas and biofuels, according to a news release.

Nopetro Renewables will construct one of Florida’s first landfill-gas-to-RNG facilities in Vero Beach. In addition to investing in the newly formed Nopetro Renewables’ platform, NOVA also has made an equity investment in Nopetro Energy.

“Our new platform, Nopetro Renewables, seeks to build and operate renewable energy infrastructure, starting with a shovel-ready landfill-gas-to-RNG project in Vero Beach,” Chris Beall, founder and managing partner of NOVA Infrastructure, said in the release.

Nopetro was founded in 2007 with the goal of displacing petroleum consumption with a cleaner, cost-effective and domestic natural gas fuel. Led by Jorge Herrera, the company has developed a strong reputation in the US southeast and currently operates 16 CNG fueling facilities where it serves government, waste, and industrial customers.

In July 2022, NOVA announced the close of its $565m Infrastructure Fund I, which attracted commitments from a diverse group of leading North American and global institutional investors including public and private pension funds, insurance companies, family offices and asset managers.

NOVA’s investment in Nopetro marks its seventh platform investment as part of Fund I and is a continuation of its strategy of targeting middle-market providers across the infrastructure landscape.

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Decarbonization start-up raises $7.5m seed capital

The start-up is seeking to commercialize a technology that eliminates carbon from natural gas to produce clean hydrogen and solid carbon.

ETCH, INC. (ETCH), a decarbonization company that eliminates carbon from natural gas to produce both clean hydrogen and solid carbon, has secured $7.5m in seed-stage funding from Emerald Development Managers LP, according to a news release.

ETCH will use these funds to take the technology to market and begin commercialization. ETCH anticipates that it will be field testing commercial units later this year.

Formulated in the labs of Johns Hopkins University by Prof. Jonah Erlebacher, Ph.D., The ETCH ProcessTM uses a novel closed-loop chemical reaction cycle that leads to highly efficient thermal and materials management in reactor systems. ETCH’s revolutionary decarbonization technology delivers unrivaled environmental impact, economic value, and versatility that will accelerate the clean energy transition. In 2018, the project team secured a competitive multi-year grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which provided critical research funding.

The ETCH ProcessTM is a clear differentiator among other hydrogen technologies for its:

  • Efficiency: The ETCH ProcessTM can convert nearly 100% of natural gas input into hydrogen, regardless of scale, and it requires minimal maintenance through its modular design.
  • Affordability: ETCH’s low-cost solution is on track to beat the DOE Hydrogen Shot cost target of less than $1/kg.
  • Sustainability: ETCH requires less energy and no water thereby providing the most versatility to operate across geographies.
  • Security: ETCH uses earth-abundant materials that can be sourced domestically and will not be subject to supply chain disruptions and thereby enhance energy security.

“We cannot solve our climate and emissions challenge without cleaning up natural gas,” said Dr. Jonah Erlebacher, ETCH Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. “The ETCH ProcessTM is a holistic solution that will allow decarbonized natural gas to be a part of our global energy system. This significant seed-stage funding demonstrates confidence in our technology and business plan as we work toward a clean energy future.”

“ETCH has developed an amazing new technology. It is practical, has dramatically lower operating and capital costs compared to any existing or proposed decarbonization approach, and is easily deployable at any scale” said Neil Cohen, Founder and Chairman of Emerald Development Managers. “The ETCH ProcessTM can be easily implemented in-line at millions of facilities, delivering clean hydrogen and significant solid carbon that can be used in a multitude of ways.”

“The ETCH ProcessTM is an intelligent steward of our natural resources – at scale – for an energy secure and sustainable future,” said Ed Schlesinger, Dean of Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering. “We are proud to support ETCH as it moves forward on its journey.”

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Former Denbury executive targeting growth through CCS at industrial emitters

Tracy Evans, a former COO of Denbury Resources, has launched a business unit aimed at offering carbon capture and sequestration services for existing industrial emitters.

CapturePoint, a Texas-based carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery specialist, is seeking to grow by offering carbon capture services to existing industrial emitters.

The company, started with an initial focus on enhanced oil recovery operations using CO2, has launched a subsidiary called CapturePoint Solutions to capitalize on growing demand for carbon capture services at industrial plants, CEO Tracy Evans said in an interview.

Evans, a former chief operating officer of Denbury Resources, has years of experience operating CO2 capture units, pipelines, and oil wells. “The only difference between EOR utilization and sequestration is going to the saline aquifers,” he said of the pivot.

The company’s primary focus is on existing emissions, Evans said, emphasizing the immediate opportunity over proposed plants that might take many years to build. He added that the company would target “pure” sources of CO2 versus diluted sources.

Evans brought in a JV equity partner for the CCS business, but declined to name them. He said the company is sufficiently capitalized for now but might need to raise additional equity as it signs up new projects in the next 12 to 16 months.

Tax equity and CCS

CapturePoint recently completed a tax equity deal for a CCS facility that has been operational since 2013, thanks to changes to provisions governing the use of 45Q for carbon capture that allowed existing plants to qualify if they capture over 500,000 tons of CO2.

The deal, at CVR Partners’ Coffeyville fertilizer plant, opened up an initial payment of $18m and includes installment payments, payable quarterly until March 31, 2030, totaling up to approximately $22m.

An ethanol facility where CapturePoint operates will also qualify for 45Q benefits because 80% or more of the carbon capture unit is being rebuilt, Evans said. The company was able to finance the new construction at the ethanol facility from cash flow out of its oil & gas operations.

Going forward, new projects installed at existing emitters will follow a project finance model, with equity, debt, and 45Q investors, Evans said. The company will use a financial advisor when the time is right, the executive noted, but said there’s more work to be done on sizing and costs before an advisor is lined up.

“The capture costs are similar for each site,” he said. “The pipeline distances to a sequestration site is what drives significant variation in total capital costs.”

Evans believes that tax credit increases in the Inflation Reduction Act – from $35 per ton to $60 per ton for CO2 used in EOR, and $50 per ton to $85 for CO2 sequestration – should help the CCS market evolve and lead to additional deals.

“There wasn’t much in it for the emitter at $35 and $50, to be honest,” he said, “whereas at $60 and $85 there’s something in it for the emitter.”

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Low-carbon crude refinery developer lining up project cap stack

The developer of a low-carbon crude refinery is in talks with banks and strategics to line up project financing for a $5.5bn project in Oklahoma.

Texas-based Southern Rock Energy Partners is holding discussions with banks and potential strategic investors with the aim of shaping a $5.5bn capital stack to build a low-carbon crude refinery in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The project, a first-of-its-kind 250,000 barrel-per-day crude refinery, would make it the first crude facility of that size built in the United States in several decades.

The company is evaluating a project finance route with a debt and equity structure for the project, and has held talks with several major investment banks as well as “industry-leading” strategics in midstream, industrial gas, and electricity generation, Southern Rock Managing Partner Steven Ward said in an interview.

In support of the refinery, the city of Cushing and the Cushing Economic Development Foundation approved $75m in tax-exempt private activity bonds, Ward noted. He added that the company could also tap industrial revenue bonds as well as PACE equity financing.

Seed capital for project development has so far come from strategic partners, some of which are operational partners, Ward said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise, noting that engagement letters have yet to be signed.

Engineering firm KBR is conducting a feasibility study for the Cushing project, and the company is moving through land acquisition, air permit preparation, and EPC selection, Ward said.

While most crude refineries consume natural gas, off-gasses, and ambient air, Southern Rock’s proposed refinery would use oxygen along with blue hydrogen produced from the refining off-gasses and green hydrogen from electrolysis. The process would eliminate 95% of greenhouse gas emissions at the proposed refinery.

“Our furnaces and our process heating units are fed 100% hydrogen and oxygen,” Ward said, noting that this type of system does not currently exist in the market. The company is expanding on technology it licenses from Great Southern Flameless, he said.

The size of the refinery would make it the largest to be built in the US since Marathon Petroleum built a 200,000 barrels-per-day facility in 1976.

Certain other low-carbon crude projects have been in the market for several years. Meridian Energy has been seeking to build cleaner crude refineries in North Dakota. Raven Petroleum ran up against environmental concerns while seeking to build a clean refinery in Texas. And MMEX is aiming to build an “ultra clean” crude refinery in West Texas.

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Exclusive: Ammonia plant sale paused until commercial operations

The sale process for a Texas ammonia plant has been paused until the facility reaches commercial operations.

Gulf Coast Ammonia, the developer of a world-scale ammonia plant in Texas City, Texas, has paused a sale process until the plant reaches commercial operations, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The process to sell the plant, which will produce 1.3 million tons of ammonia per year, was underway earlier this year, led by Jefferies as sellside advisor. The plant was expected to reach COD in 2023, according to documentation.

The project was initiated by Agrifos Partners LLC and advanced to FID in collaboration with joint venture development partners Mabanaft and Macquarie Capital. Following the FID taken in late 2019, GCA is wholly owned by a joint venture of Mabanaft and Lotus Infrastructure (formerly known as Starwood Energy).

GCA is investing $600m towards the construction, operation, and ownership of the ammonia plant, which is situated on land owned by Eastman Chemical Company within Texas City’s industrial park. It includes a portion of Eastman’s port access. 

In tandem with the ammonia plant construction, Air Products is building a $500m steam methane reformer to provide hydrogen to the plant via pipeline. Air Products noted in a recent investor presentation that the SMR project recently came onstream.

Officials at Lotus, Mabanaft, and Jefferies did not reply to inquiries seeking comment.

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