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Woodside Energy invests in US CO2-to-protein technology company

Woodside will invest $3m into California-based NovoNutrients under a technology development agreement.

NovoNutrients has announced the signing of a technology development agreement under which Woodside Energy would contribute up to $3m to NovoNutrients, subject to the completion of certain milestones by NovoNutrients, according to a news release.

NovoNutrients’ technology converts industrial CO2 emissions into high-quality protein, with the potential to abate greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the world’s food and feed supply. The collaboration with NovoNutrients is aligned with Woodside’s view of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) as an emerging field offering alternative lower-carbon solutions.

NovoNutrients’ technology has been operating at a lab-scale. This agreement supports the construction and operation of a larger pilot-scale system. The pilot-scale system will seek to both advance the design of commercial-scale plants and deliver increased sample product volume for further validation by NovoNutrients’ strategic partners, including Woodside.

“Our agreement with Woodside means, together, we can deliver meaningful carbon benefits sooner, while also tackling the world’s need for protein,” said David Tze, CEO of NovoNutrients.

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SOEC electrolyzer maker Sunfire attracts EUR 500m

German electrolyzer maker Sunfire added new equity investors including GIC and secured a loan from the European Investment Bank.

The German electrolyzer manufacturer Sunfire has raised EUR 215 million in a Series E equity financing round, further complemented by a term loan of up to EUR 100 million provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

In addition, Sunfire has access to approx. EUR 200 million from previously approved, undrawn grant funding to support its growth, according to a news release. This makes Sunfire one of the best capitalized electrolyzer manufacturers in the industry.

Sunfire announces the successful completion of a substantial Series E financing round, raising EUR 215 million in equity capital. The new investment will further boost the company’s critical role in ramping up the hydrogen economy. Sunfire welcomes LGT Private Banking, GIC, Ahren Innovation Capital, and Carbon Equity as new investors. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in Q2 2024.

Sunfire-CEO Nils Aldag said, “This substantial financing round is good news for Europe’s leading role in hydrogen production and for the European clean-tech industry. I am delighted to welcome additional investors backing our vision, product offering, and capabilities to deliver industrial electrolyzers at pace and scale. With this new capital, we are uniquely positioned to further accelerate our company’s growth and industrialization plans to meet the fast-growing demand for electrolysis technologies.”

In addition to the new investors, existing shareholders have increased their investment in Sunfire – among them Lightrock, Planet First Partners, Carbon Direct Capital, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, and Blue Earth Capital.

In line with Sunfire’s commitment to financial diversification, the company has also secured a credit of up to EUR 100 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which provides increased capacity to boost its development and industrialization of solid oxide electrolyzers.

Sunfire’s pressurized alkaline and high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis technologies are a key enabler of the transition to renewable energy, offering a scalable and efficient means of producing green hydrogen. The company targets installing several gigawatts of electrolysis equipment by 2030 in large-scale green hydrogen projects, securing a leading position in the fast-growing global electrolyzer market.

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Amazon investing big in direct air capture

The online retail giant entered a carbon removal agreement with an Oxy DAC project in Texas, and took a stake in a separate DAC developer.

Amazon has made its first investments in direct air capture (DAC) as part of its Climate Pledge commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a news release.

Amazon is supporting the world’s largest deployment of DAC technology by committing to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over 10 years from STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored naturally across more than 290,000 acres of U.S. forests—roughly half the size of the state of Rhode Island. Carbon captured under this agreement will be stored deep underground in saline aquifers, which are large geological rock formations that are saturated in salt water.

1PointFive is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.

In addition, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is making an investment in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company recognized for its pioneering modular DAC systems. These systems are designed to be easily upgraded over time with next-generation sorbents that filter carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, facilitating cost reductions driven by rapid material science advancements.

In DAC technology, CO2 in the atmosphere is filtered out and stored in underground geological formations, or used to create products such as building materials, like concrete, bricks, and cement. With these new investments, DAC will become one component of Amazon’s broader sustainability strategy, which also includes developing nature-based solutions such as forest conservation and restoration.

“Amazon’s primary focus is to decarbonize our global operations through our transition to renewable energy, building with more sustainable materials and electrifying our delivery fleet, and global logistics,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. “We are also pursuing changes such as reducing the weight of packaging per shipment for our customers. At the same time, we also need to seek every possible avenue to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. These investments in direct air capture complement our emissions reductions plans, and we are excited to support the growth and deployment of this technology.”

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North Dakota CCS project enters final development stages

Closing on financing for Project Tundra at the coal-fired Milton R. Young Station power plant is expected in early 2024.

Minnkota Power Cooperative has solidified agreements with TC Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Kiewit to move a North Dakota carbon capture project into its final stage of development, according to a news release.

Under the arrangements, Minnkota will continue to lead development activities for “Project Tundra” at the Milton R. Young Station power plant, as well as coordination with landowners and community members in the project area near Center, N.D.

Closing on financing and the notice to move forward with construction of Project Tundra are anticipated in early 2024. The project remains subject to closing on financing and a final investment decision by each of the project entities in the consortium.

TC Energy will lead commercialization activities, including qualifying for federal 45Q tax credits. Return on project construction and operation costs would be recouped through 45Q, which provides $85 per ton of CO2 permanently stored underground.

In addition, the project participants submitted applications in May for a $350m grant through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program and a $150m loan through the state of North Dakota’s Clean Sustainable Energy Authority. The project currently has approval for a $100m CSEA loan.

Project Tundra is designed to capture up to four million metric tons of CO2 annually from the coal-based Young Station. The CO2 will be stored more than a mile underground. Minnkota currently has the largest fully permitted CO2 storage facility in the United States and is pursuing additional CO2 storage opportunities near the Young Station.

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Pennsylvania RNG firm outlines strategic outlook

A growing RNG developer, owner and operator based in Pennsylvania is anticipating a liquidity event on the part of its private equity owner — once it has locked down a “critical mass” of projects.

Vision RNG, a developer of US RNG projects, could see its next project reach commercial operations in Tennessee in a line of projects in southeastern and mid-western states, CEO Bill Johnson said in an interview.

Vision Ridge Partners, a private equity firm, is the majority owner of the company. Management owns the remaining minority stake.

The company is still in early stages and would likely need to get something like six projects to COD before a liquidity event.

“Locking down projects creates a lot of value,” Johnson said, noting that Vision Ridge will likely follow a typical private equity monetization pattern.

The company’s project at Meridian Waste’s Eagle Ridge Landfill in Bowling Green, Missouri is fully operational. It uses 1,500 scfm of landfill gas (LFG) and produces 375,000 MMBtu of RNG annually.

That mid-sized project is similar in scale to what is being developed in Tennessee, which will likely be the next project to reach COD, Johnson said, declining to provide details on exact location.

“We’re working on developing other opportunities with some of the largest publicly owned landfill companies in the country,” Johnson said.

Projects require between $20m and $60m in capex, ranging from small to large, Johnson said. Vision Ridge takes care of the company’s equity requirements.

Debt options are being considered on a project-by-project basis, he said. Debt tends to range from 50% to 70% of total spend.
“We’ll look to put reasonable project debt on these,” he said.

Vision has not to date retained the services of an investment bank, Johnson said.

Vision is pursuing opportunities in Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma, and will evaluate suppliers of services and equipment for each. The location-agnostic company is also open to new relationships with potential future financial and strategic acquirers.

“If you are a private equity group, you’re a potential buyer of the company at some point, so we would be happy to know them and keep their interest in us up,” Johnson said. An acquirer would not necessarily need to have expertise in RNG.

M&A potential

M&A of projects is an option on the table, Johnson said. But returns are better if Vision develops its own projects; and a more challenging macroeconomic environment makes acquisitions somewhat unlikely.

“With the market premiums being paid, I see us continuing to keep our head down and focusing on organic growth,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he expects to see continued consolidation in the greater market. Many large strategic and midstream companies have yet to make significant buys in RNG.

He pointed to bp’s acquisition of Archaea Energy as a significant milestone in the RNG market.

“There’s quite a number of potential acquirers,” Johnson said. “The market is kind of fundamentally and always will be under-supplied and over-demanded.”

Vision would potentially be open to a merger with a portfolio company of a strategic or PE investor, Johnson said.

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Exclusive: Morgan Stanley mandated for green ammonia facility

Morgan Stanley is the mandated investment banker for a green ammonia developer that’s raising debt and equity for its first facility in Texas.

First Ammonia is working with Morgan Stanley as its investment banker as it seeks to raise debt and equity for a flagship green ammonia project in Texas.

The New York City-based developer is moving toward financial close this year on the first 100 MW train of a 300 MW project at the Port of Victoria, Texas. Morgan Stanley has held the mandate since last year, but it has not been previously reported.

First Ammonia did not respond to requests for comment. Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

In an interview last year, First Ammonia CEO said the 100 MW train of the Port of Victoria project is estimated to cost $300m, while the full 300 MW will cost between $900m – $1bn. Each 100 MW module will produce up to 100,000 MTPA of green ammonia.

The project is expected to be the first in First Ammonia’s global pipeline of green ammonia facilities that will eventually add up to 5 million MTPA of production within 10 years.

The firm has contracted with Haldor Topsoe for 5 GW of solid-oxide electrolysis for its project portfolio. It is seeking a partner to provide 45V-compliant renewable energy to power electrolysis at Port of Victoria, as reported exclusively by ReSource.

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Arizona RNG firm seeking equity capital

A renewable natural gas developer with sites proposed in southern California and Arizona is seeking additional equity investors.

True North Renewable Energy Company, a Phoenix-based waste-to-energy developer, is undergoing a Series B equity raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Whitehall & Company is advising, the sources said.

True North develops, builds, and operates organics-to-energy facilities, including large, regional, high solids anaerobic digestion infrastructure, according to its website.

The firm is primarily active in southern California and Arizona. Sites have been announced in Imperial County, Kern County and Mojave (all in California) as well as Yuma County, Arizona. Collectively, these could produce up to 3m mmbtu per annum, using up to 700,000 tons of organic compost from regional farms.

The company is a holding of True North Venture Partners, of Phoenix and Chicago.

TNRE and Whitehall did not respond to requests for comment.

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