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Vinson & Elkins adds tax partner from Shearman

V&E has added a California-based tax equity and energy transition partner from Shearman & Sterling.

Vinson & Elkins has added Jorge Medina as a partner in its tax practice.

California-based Medina is a practitioner in tax equity and other transactions across the energy transition, the firm said in a news release. He represents many of the top sponsors and tax equity investors in solar, wind, energy storage, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, carbon capture, geothermal, biofuels and electric vehicle transactions.

Medina joins from Shearman & Sterling, where he was a partner in the firm’s Project Development & Finance Practices and Head of Renewables (Americas). He previously served as associate general counsel-tax at Tesla Inc. and, prior to that, as vice president and deputy general counsel at SolarCity, which was acquired by Tesla.

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Bloom Energy demonstrates 4 MW solid oxide electrolyzer

According to the company, the high-temperature, high-efficiency unit produces 20-25% more hydrogen per MW than commercially demonstrated lower temperature electrolyzers.

Bloom Energy has begun generating hydrogen from the world’s largest solid oxide electrolyzer installation at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the historic Moffett Field research facility in Mountain View, Calif, according to a news release.

This high-temperature, high-efficiency unit produces 20-25% more hydrogen per megawatt (MW) than commercially demonstrated lower temperature electrolyzers such as proton electrolyte membrane (PEM) or alkaline.

This electrolyzer demonstration showcases the maturity, efficiency and commercial readiness of Bloom’s solid oxide technology for large-scale, clean hydrogen production. The 4 MW Bloom Electrolyzer™, delivering the equivalent of over 2.4 metric tonnes per day of hydrogen output, was built, installed and operationalized in a span of two months to demonstrate the speed and ease of deployment.

“This demonstration is a major milestone for reaching net-zero goals,” said KR Sridhar, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman and CEO of Bloom Energy. “Hydrogen will be essential for storing intermittent and curtailed energy and for decarbonizing industrial energy use. Commercially viable electrolyzers are the key to unlocking the energy storage puzzle, and solid oxide electrolyzers offer inherently superior technology and economic advantages. Bloom Energy, as the global leader in solid oxide technology, is proud to share this exciting demonstration with the world: our product is ready for prime time.”

The current demonstration expands on Bloom’s recent project on a 100 kW system located at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) which achieved record-breaking electrolyzer efficiency. In the ongoing project, 4500 hours of full load operations have been completed with a Bloom Electrolyzer™ producing hydrogen more efficiently than any other process – over 25% more efficiently than low-temperature electrolysis.

The INL steam and load simulations replicated nuclear power conditions to validate full capability of technology application at nuclear facilities, and the pilot results revealed the Bloom Electrolyzer producing hydrogen at 37.7 kWh per kg of hydrogen. Dynamic testing conducted at INL included ramping down the system from 100 percent of rated power to 5 percent in less than 10 minutes without adverse system impacts. Even at 5 percent of rated load, the energy efficiency (kWh/kg) was as good or better than other electrolyzer technologies at their 100% rated capacity. These results will be presented at the Department of Energy’s Annual Review Meeting in Washington DC on June 7, 2023.

“The amount of electricity needed by the electrolyzer to make hydrogen will be the most dominant factor in determining hydrogen production cost. For this reason, the efficiency of the electrolyzer, the electricity needed to produce a kilogram of hydrogen becomes the most critical figure of merit. This 4 MW demonstration at the NASA Ames Research Center proves that the energy efficiency of our large-scale electrolyzer is similar to the small-scale system tested at INL highlighting the strength of our modular architecture,” said Dr. Ravi Prasher, Chief Technology Officer of Bloom Energy. “The electrolyzer product is leveraging the Bloom platform knowhow of more than 1 GW of solid oxide fuel cells deployed in the field and providing approximately 1 trillion cumulative cell operating hours. The same technology platform that can convert natural gas and hydrogen to electricity can be used reversibly to convert electricity to hydrogen. With Bloom’s high-efficiency, high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzers, we are one step closer to a decarbonized future powered by low-cost clean hydrogen.”

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Mote receives $1.2m for second biomass-to-H2 plant

Construction on a project in Bakersfield, California is expected to begin in 2025 and target full operational capacity by 2027.

Mote Inc. has received $1.2m in grant funding to establish its second biomass to hydrogen and carbon sequestration plant in partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, according to a news release.

As Mote’s hydrogen offtake partner for the second facility in Sacramento, SMUD and Mote have been collaborating on the project development. Upon completion, the facility would produce approximately 21,000 metric tons per year (MTPY) of carbon-negative hydrogen for use in thermal power generation and transportation.

The money comes from the US Forest Service, the California Department of Conservation, and the California Department of Forestry.

“Similar to its first project near Bakersfield, this second plant will integrate with carbon capture and geological sequestration methods to produce carbon-negative hydrogen,” the release states. “Mote can process woody waste from farms, forestry, and urban sources. The remaining carbon dioxide from the process is captured and permanently placed underground in saline aquifers for ecologically safe storage.”

Mote has received a formal invitation to submit a Part II application to the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office Title 17 Clean Energy Financing program, which can offer loan guarantees up to 80 percent of eligible project costs.

Bakersfield construction is expected to begin in 2025 and target full operational capacity by 2027.

Mote is a member of the ARCHES community and their application for the DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub grant.

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Gevo hires chief sustainability officer

Gevo has hired Nancy N. Young from Alder Fuels as its chief sustainability officer.

Gevo, Inc. has hired Nancy N. Young as chief sustainability officer to lead the sustainability, environmental, and scientific affairs for the company.

Nancy is a highly experienced veteran of the aviation industry, with deep expertise in developing environmental and sustainability policy, and regulatory programs, as well as in commercial deployment of low carbon fuels and technologies. Her most recent position was as chief sustainability officer for Alder Fuels.

“As we build the infrastructure for delivery of low carbon fuels and chemicals, Gevo will continue to focus on assembling the best possible team of industry experts and resources to optimize our efforts,” said Dr. Paul Bloom, Gevo’s Chief Carbon and Innovation Officer. “Nancy’s experience in commercialization, combined with her policy expertise will play a key role for Gevo and our ongoing development of Verity Carbon Solutions.”

Nancy is an accomplished strategist in the fields of environmental and sustainability law and policy, with a wealth of expertise in areas such as climate change, aviation sustainability, and sustainable fuels, according to the news release.

Her  experience includes serving as a transportation sustainability advisor on the United Nations High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport and leading environmental advocacy efforts for Airlines for America, the principal trade and service organization of the U.S. airline industry. Notably, Nancy served on the Steering Group and as co-Lead of the Sustainability Team under the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative® for several years, playing a significant role in the development of the policies that underpin the sustainable aviation fuels market. She also played a key role in the development of an array of agreements, standards, and policies under the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization aimed at reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impact.

“I am thrilled to be joining Gevo at such a critical time in the aviation industry,” Young said. “The commercialization of sustainable technology must align with our collective goals and policy governance, and Gevo is at the forefront of this important work. I look forward to contributing to the company’s continued development and success.”

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Exclusive: Wisconsin RNG portfolio for sale with large renewables portfolio

A major Canadian utility is auctioning off four Wisconsin RNG assets as part of a larger renewables selldown. The subsidiary at auction has previously indicated that it would take part in Northeastern US hydrogen development.

Algonquin Power & Utilities is selling a package of four renewable natural gas assets, totaling 532 mmbtu, in Wisconsin as part of a larger renewables auction, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

JP Morgan is advising on the process, codenamed Project Power, the sources said.

The process comprises mostly operational onshore wind (2,325 MW) and solar (670 MW), along with an 8 GW development pipeline across 10 power markets, according to a teaser seen by ReSource. The renewable assets are collectively known as Liberty under the Algonquin banner.

The pipeline includes 1,600 mmbtu of RNG. The operational RNG assets reached COD in 2022.

Algonquin did not respond to requests for comment. JP Morgan declined comment.

The Wisconsin assets are apparently the former Sandhill Advanced Biofuels projects, which were acquired by Algonquin in 2022.

When that acquisition was made, it was announced that Liberty had signed on as a “hydrogen ecosystem partner” in the multi-state Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub. That hub ultimately was not selected by the US department of Energy for hub funding.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen adoption and production firm prepping capital raise

A decarbonization services provider is in development on multiple utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the Northeast, Texas and Georgia and is preparing to launch a capital raise in 3Q24.

Celadyne, a Chicago-based decarbonization and hydrogen solutions company, will launch a Series A this year as it continues its role in the development of several utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the US, founder and CEO Gary Ong told ReSource.

A $20m to $30m capital raise will likely launch in 3Q24, Ong said. The company is relying on existing investors from its recent seed round to advise, and the amount could change based on grants.

While the $4.5m seed round allowed the company to focus on transportation mobility, the Series A will be used to do more work on hydrogen production, so the company will be looking for strategics in oil and gas, renewable energy, and utilities.

DLA Piper is the company’s legal advisor, Ong said.

Celadyne has a contract signed with a utility in the Northeast for a small electrolysis demonstration and, following that, a multimillion-dollar project. Discussions on how to finance that latter project are underway.

Additional electrolysis projects in Texas and Georgia are in later discussions, while less mature deals are taking shape with a nuclear customer in Illinois and another project in Southern California, Ong said.

Fuel cell customers (typically OEMs that use hydrogen) to which Celadyne ships equipment are clustered mostly in Vancouver, Michigan and California.

Meanwhile, Celadyne has generated revenues from military contracts of about $1m, Ong said, a source of non-recurring revenue that has prodded the company to look for a fuel cell integration partner specific to the defense application.

‘Blocking hydrogen’

The company, founded in 2019, is focused on solving for the demand and supply issues for which the fledgling US hydrogen market is notorious. Thus, it is split-focused between hydrogen adoption and production.

Celadyne has developed a nanoparticle coating that can be applied to existing fuel cell and electrolyzer membranes.

On the heavy-duty side, such as diesel generators or back-up power, the company improves durability of engines between 3X and 5X, Ong said.

On the electrolysis side, the technology improves rote efficiency by 15%. In production, Celadyne is looking for pilot projects and verification studies.

“We’re very good at blocking hydrogen,” he said. “In a fuel cell or electrolyzer, when you have hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side, you need something to make sure the hydrogen never sees the oxygen,” noting that it improves safety, reduces side reaction chemistry and improves efficiency.

Hydrogen adoption now will lead to green proliferation later should the economics prove out, according to Ong. If not, blue hydrogen and other decarbonized sources will still pave the way to climate stability.

The only negative for that is the apparent cost-floor for blue hydrogen in fuel cell technologies, Ong said, as carbon capture can only be so cost efficient.

“So, if the price floor is say, $3.25 or $3.50 per kg, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it for things like transportation, it just means that it might be hard to use it for things like shipping, where the fuel just has to be cheaper,” Ong said.

Three companies

Celadyne is split into three focus applications: defense, materials, and production. If only one of those wings works, Ong said he could see selling to a strategic at some point.

“If any of those things work out, we ought to become a billion-dollar company,” he said.

If all three work out, Ong will likely seek to do an IPO.

An acquisition could be driven by an acquiror that can help Celadyne commercialize its products faster, he said.

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exclusive

US gas compression firm raising $432m

A Houston-based CNG company is raising money to develop a virtual marine pipeline between the US Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.

Andalusian Energy, a natural gas compression, export and transportation company, is undergoing a $432m capital raise to develop and build a compression and filling station in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and export line to Honduras, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Whitehall & Co. is advising on the transaction, the sources said. Capital allocation will also support the purchase of CNG containers and destination port improvements in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.

Targeted initial equity is $168m, or 40%, according to a teaser seen by The Hydrogen Source. Targeted COD of the project is 2H25.

Gross-cumulative investment could exceed $2bn. The phase I estimated project cost of approximately $421m is expected to be split 40% to permanent equity capital ($168m) and 60% to structured debt ($253m).

Andalusian uses lightweight composite cylinders to ship compressed natural gas (CNG) at ambient temperature to the Caribbean, Central America and eastern Mexico. Marketing materials state the process is lower cost than shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The company has installed a demonstration facility in Choloma, Honduras to import natural gas from CNG.

The Louisiana compression facility will be constructed with two adjacent docks and a site with utility connections. Natural gas will be supplied using a combination of regional pipeline networks including Southern Natural Gas pipeline and High Point Gas Transmission Pipeline. An agreement has been reached to provide interconnection and construction of a 1.5 mile lateral.

Andalusian completed its development capital raise with a strategic investment by MAN Energy Solutions USA, a division of Volkswagen AG, and equity investments by HBG, Progressive Energy and Grupo IDC.

Additional marine engineering, consulting, and ship classification services are being provided by DNV GL and confirmed by the Norwegian Maritime Authority.

Additionally, to monetize spare ship capacity and based on a contract to deliver CNG to an IPP in Honduras, Andalusian has reached an agreement with a global shipping company to transport commercial container cargo between Louisiana and Honduras, the teaser states.

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