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TPG-backed Matrix Renewables launches Spanish green hydrogen developer

HYREN is a new platform dedicated to the development and creation of the green hydrogen economy in Spain.

Matrix Renewables, the TPG Rise-backed global renewable energy platform, and Rolwind Renovables experts in the development of renewable energy infrastructures, today announced the expansion of their partnership through the creation of HYREN, a new platform dedicated to the development and creation of the green hydrogen economy in Spain.

The companies have signed an agreement to establish the platform dedicated to the implementation, production, and commercialization of green hydrogen and its sustainable by-products in Spain, which will cover the entire value chain of this renewable energy source, according to a news release.

By combining their experience and leadership in Spain’s renewable energy sector, Matrix and Rolwind launched HYREN to become a benchmark in Europe for the design, construction, and operation of green hydrogen infrastructure.

HYREN brings together the projects initiated by both companies and begins its journey with a portfolio of national projects, which will total a generation capacity of more than 1 GW in Andalusia, Aragon and Castilla La Mancha, with a target of achieving up to 4 GW.

Matrix Renewables and Rolwind’s partnership has a strong track record of success in Spain. Both have developed and built 130 MWp PV solar facilities in Huelva (Spain) which will be soon hybridized by adding 16MW of shovel ready collocated storage facilities and have a development pipeline of 765 MW in Spain.

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Global Clean Energy takes USDA grant for feedstock project

A $30m pilot project is meant to accelerate the market for camelina sativa as a feedstock for sustainable fuels, as demonstrated in a biofuels refinery in southern California.

Global Clean Energy Holdings and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have signed a contract for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Grant for their Climate-Smart Camelina Project, according to a news release.

With the signing, work can officially begin on their $30m pilot project to measure and validate the advantages of Camelina sativa (camelina) as an ultra-low carbon nonfood renewable fuel feedstock.

Climate-Smart Camelina is a large-scale pilot project to implement, measure, and validate the climate advantages of camelina in both rotational (fallow acres) and winter crop (e.g., in a double-crop rotation) production systems.

The project is meant to accelerate farmers’ adoption of camelina grown to produce feedstock for renewable biofuels and chemicals without causing land-use change and while increasing carbon capture in the soil.

Further, the project is meant to support market development to provide additional revenue streams to growers and provide a premium for this low carbon intensity crop.

Global Clean Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Sustainable Oils, Inc., contracts directly with farmers to grow camelina currently in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington.

Camelina grain is refined in the company’s Bakersfield Renewable Fuels refinery in California.

The USDA Climate-Smart Commodities announcement can be accessed here.

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Amogy, Trafigura to research ammonia cracking technology

New York-based Amogy Inc. and Singapore’s Trafigura will join forces to study the use of ammonia as a carrier to transport clean hydrogen from point of production to point of consumption.

New York-based Amogy Inc. and Singapore’s Trafigura will join forces to study the use of ammonia as a carrier to transport clean hydrogen from point of production to point of consumption, according to a press release.

The findings of this joint research aims to help support industry-wide efforts to decarbonize transport and heavy industrial processes and lower carbon emissions to meet global climate goals. The effort is focused on identifying and assessing scenarios in which ammonia cracking technology can be deployed to support the growing hydrogen market, starting with Europe, which is targeting 20 MTPA of hydrogen consumption by 2030.

Trafigura is looking at future low-carbon sources of energy including technologies that can enable the high-volume transportation of zero emission fuels.

Amogy’s ammonia-to-power platform features the company’s proprietary cracking technology that converts ammonia back into hydrogen. Following “successful demonstrations,” Amogy is now scaling up its technology for use in larger applications and pursuing strategic partnerships to support global decarbonization efforts, the release states.

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Subsurface storage firm makes first acquisitions

Caliche Development Partners has acquired two natural gas storage assets from Southern Company, which could serve as a bridge to storing helium, hydrogen, and CO2 in similar formations.

Caliche Development Partners II, Orion Infrastructure Capital (OIC), and GCM Grosvenor have reached a partnership targeting underground storage and sequestration assets in North America, according to a press release.

The capital commitments represent OIC’s second investment with the Caliche management team, and Caliche’s first with OIC’s frequent investment partner GCM Grosvenor, which invested client capital.  Both firms bring extensive experience in infrastructure investing to Caliche’s next iteration, which will target underground assets supporting North America’s transition to lower-carbon forms of energy.

The partnership’s initial acquisition of Golden Triangle Storage, Inc. (GTS), together with the anticipated acquisition of Central Valley Gas Storage (CVGS), from Southern Company affiliates, targets two regions with increasing demand for storage to support variable power loads, natural gas liquefaction, and high penetrations of renewable resources.

Acquisition amounts funded and/or anticipated to be funded by OIC, GCM Grosvenor, and Caliche management collectively total $186m, which represents the aggregate purchase price of both GTS and CVGS, plus working capital and other adjustments. Caliche expects, with support from OIC and GCM Grosvenor, to explore and assess additional growth related to these assets and in these regions.  The GTS transaction closed on November 18, 2022, and the CVGS purchase, which requires state regulatory approvals, is expected to close in 2023.

“Natural gas storage will continue to play an important role in our energy mix while providing the assets and knowledge to storing helium, hydrogen and CO2 in similar formations,” said Dave Marchese, CEO of Caliche II. “The support of our repeat and new capital partners combined with the location of these two acquisitions, and their exceptional operational teams, provide Caliche a platform to significantly impact the energy transition on the U.S. Gulf and West Coasts.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the Caliche team again and with GCM Grosvenor to build off the success of Caliche I,” said Ethan Shoemaker, investment partner and head of infra credit at OIC. “GTS and CVGS are both premier storage assets and provide critical infrastructure for reliability in their respective markets.  We look forward to supporting Caliche II’s continued growth as we expand the platform for other customers and into new products.”

“We believe the investment opportunity for underground storage is robust in light of market dynamics and ongoing energy transition initiatives across the globe,” said Matthew Rinklin, managing director at GCM Grosvenor. “The Caliche team has a proven track record of developing critical storage infrastructure for a range of customers across fuel types, and we look forward to growing their platform alongside our partners at OIC.”

Caliche welcomes GTS and CVGS employees to its culture of providing safe and environmentally conscious underground storage services. The Caliche team has a proven history of operating on the Spindletop salt dome, where GTS is located, and will leverage its expertise from its prior storage business—Coastal Caverns—for the success of both facilities.

Under the Caliche team’s stewardship, Coastal Caverns operated with a TIRR of zero (0), an industry leading environmental record. The team’s decision-making hierarchy of “Safety, Asset Integrity, Stakeholder Stewardship and On-Demand Deliverability” comes from a combined 65 years of collective underground storage experience, with products including NGLs, oil, helium and natural gas. Underground natural gas storage provides unparalleled flexibility for the entry of renewable generation resources into power grids, support for LNG exports to Europe and Asia, and ultimately provides the asset base and knowledge to move to carbon-neutral forms of generation.

The Caliche team previously developed North America’s first helium storage salt cavern and is committed to now applying the team’s decades of experience working together to the upcoming challenges of storing helium, hydrogen and sequestered CO2.

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Aemetis capitalized for hydrogen and biofuel development plans

Aemetis CEO Eric McAfee said in an interview that the company has lined up financing to complete the $1.2bn in biogas and sustainable aviation fuel projects it has in development.

Aemetis is well capitalized to complete the $1.2bn in biogas and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) projects it has in development, CEO Eric McAfee said in an interview.

Founded by McAfee in 2006 and listed on the NASDAQ in 2014, Aemetis plans to produce more than 60 million gallons per year of SAF and capture and sequester 125,000 mtpy of carbon in 2025. This is a diversification from existing ethanol, RNG and biodiesel operations in the US and India.

The company recently released an updated five-year plan including plans to generate $2bn of revenues, $496m of net income, and $682m of adjusted EBITDA by 2027.

McAfee, noting that Aemetis is well capitalized and has locked in financing for much of its plans, said, “The only thing we really need to do is just execute.”

For example, the company closed $25m of USDA loan guarantees in October at a 6.2% interest rate, McAfee said. The company has also signed a $125m USDA commitment letter for its Riverbank Biofuels Project in California, also called CarbonZero 1, which will produce SAF.

“We’ll be expanding that relationship with [the USDA],” McAfee said. “Everything else is financed.”

The Riverbank Biofuels Project has signed offtake agreements with major airlines, and the SAF segment is expected to be the biggest contributor to Aemetis’ revenues once the project is online in 2025, according to a presentation. Renewable diesel and SAF will add $348m of revenues in 2025 and $693.3m of revenues in 2026.

For its carbon sequestration projects, referring to upgrades at the existing Keyes ethanol plant in California and other operational assets, the company has an existing $100m line of credit provided by Third Eye Capital, $50m of which remains unused, McAfee said.

Projected revenues will allow the company to self-fund without new credit facilities, McAfee said. Revenues from Aemetis’ debt-free operations in India will also be available to fund new developments.

The Riverbank SAF plant will be fully engineered and permitted this year, McAfee said. Baker Hughes and ATSI are the company’s EPC partners on the new developments.

Aemetis has no plans to divest existing operational assets but could acquire California biogas assets, McAfee said. The company regularly talks to investment bankers.

McAfee is the largest single shareholder in Aemetis. JackBlock, the former US Secretary of Agriculture, sits on the company’s board. The largest institutional shareholder is BlackRock.

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Advisor Profile: Cameron Lynch of Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners

The veteran engineer and financial advisor sees widespread opportunity for capital deployment into early-stage renewable fuel companies.

Cameron Lynch, co-founder and managing partner at Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners, sees prodigious opportunity to pick up mandates in the hydrogen sector as young companies and early movers attract well-capitalized investors looking for auspicious valuations.

The firm, a three-year-old boutique investment banking outfit with offices in New York and Houston, is broadly committed to the energy transition, but is recruiting for new personnel with hydrogen expertise, Lynch said, adding that he is preparing for a new level of dealmaking in the new year.

“I think we can all expect 2023 will be even more of a record year, just given the appetite for hydrogen,” Lynch said. “Hydrogen is one of our core focuses for next year.”

Cameron Lynch

Lynch started his career as a civil & structural engineer and moved into capital equipment manufacturing and leasing for oil & gas, and also industrial gasses –things like cryoge

nic handling equipment for liquid nitrogen. He started the London office of an Aberdeen, U.K.-based M&A firm, before repeating that effort in New York.

Founding EIAP, Lynch and his business partner Sean Shafer have turned toward the energy transition and away from conventional energy. The firm works on the whole of decarbonization but has found the most success in the hydrogen space.

Earlier lifecycle, better valuations

Hydrogen intersects with oil& gas, nuclear, chemicals, midstream companies, and major manufacturing.

Large private equity funds that want to get into the space are realizing that if they don’t want to pay “ridiculous valuations for hydrogen companies” they must take on earlier-stage risk, Lynch said.

Interest from big private equity is therefore comparatively high for early-stage capital raising in the hydrogen sector, Lynch said, particularly where funds have the option to deploy more capital in the future, Lynch said.

“They’re willing to take that step down to what would normally be below their investment threshold.”

Lynch, who expects to launch several transactions in the coming months with EIAP, has a strong background in oil & gas, and views hydrogen valuations as a compelling opportunity now.

“It’s very refreshing to be working on stuff that’s attracting these superb valuations,” Lynch said.

There’s a lot of non-dilutive money in the market and the Inflation Reduction Act has been a major boon to investors, Lynch said. For small companies, getting a slice of the pie is potentially life changing.

Sean Shafer

The hydrogen space is not immune to the macroeconomic challenges that renewables have faced in recent months and years, Lynch said. But as those same challenges have accelerated the move toward energy security, hydrogen stands to benefit.

Supply chain issues post-COVID pose a potential long-term concern in the industry, and equity and debt providers question the availability of compressors and lead times.

“I would say that’s one of the key issues out there,” Lynch said. There’s also the question of available infrastructure and the extent to which new infrastructure will be built out for hydrogen.

EIAP sees the most convincing uses for hydrogen near term in light-weight mobility and aerospace, Lynch said. The molecule also has a strong use case in back-up generation.

Hydrogen additionally presents companies in traditional fossil fuel verticals the opportunity to modernize, Lynch said, citing a secondary trade EIAP completed earlier this year

California’s Suburban Propane Partners acquired a roughly 25% equity stake in Ashburn, Virginia-based Independence Hydrogen, Inc. The deal involved the creation of a new subsidiary, Suburban Renewable Energy, as part of its long-term strategic goal of building out a renewable energy platform.

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Midwestern SAF developer in capital raise

A municipal solid waste solutions firm based in the midwestern US is undergoing a $30m capital raise ahead of its first SAF project with plans to launch another raise late this year or early next.

Illinois Clean Fuels, the municipal solid waste solutions firm in Deerfield, Illinois, has mandated two advisors to run a capital raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Chabina Energy Partners and Weild & Co. are assisting on the process, which the company plans to have finished by October, the sources said.

The equity will be put toward six recovery facilities to supply feedstock for an unannounced project located in the Chicagoland region, one of the sources said. Following two years or so of engineering and permitting, that project should enter construction.

In December or early 1Q24 ICF plans to launch another equity raise for development capital.

ICF, Chabina and Weild & Co. declined to comment.

Illinois Clean Fuels has a synthetic fuel plant under development that will convert municipal solid waste into sustainable aviation fuel in combination with carbon capture and storage, according to its website.

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