A Plan B for Air Quality

By Brentan Alexander, Chief Science Officer & Chief Commercial Officer

 

News broke recently that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation would jointly be moving to revoke the waiver that California has used to set stricter auto emissions than the U.S. government. The only shock was that the action had taken so long to materialize. Long a leader in environmental protection, California put rules and procedures in place to manage air pollution before the Feds caught up with the Clean Air Act of 1970. California was awarded for its foresight: the bill enshrined a pathway for California to maintain continued dominion over its air through a waiver process. The Trump administration's decision to rescind that special position was the least surprising development in the long running feud between Trump and the Golden State. As the news exploded across the newswire and prompted to-be-expected reactions from both sides in the twitterverse, I felt a smirk come across my face... Trump may be claiming victory (possibly prematurely!), but California has the upper hand in this war.

The stricter auto emissions standards currently under attack are just one quiver in use by California and its allies in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. Another tool in the arsenal, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), is proving to be equally powerful and, more importantly, durable. But for all the attention that our national media is heaping on the auto-emissions waiver, few are aware of the LCFS program or the work it is doing to enable a cleaner future.

LCFS is a state-run program enacted in 2006 under Governor Schwarzenegger through AB32 that is administered by the California Air Resources Board. Adopted in 2009 and implemented in 2011, the regulations underpinning LCFS require the producers of refined road-ready fuels to reduce the “carbon intensity” of their fuels, with ratcheting targets that continually require further reductions year-over-year. Using a scientifically-derived and technology-neutral process, the LCFS program awards credits to fuel producers who make liquid fuels that produce less CO2 (or CO2-equivalents) over their lifecycle, as compared to conventional methods. These fuels, which are less carbon intensive, lower the total CO2 emitted by the transportation sector when blended into the fuel stock. Fuel producers can reach their mandated carbon-intensity through new technologies and processes, or by buying LCFS credits from third-parties with more efficient processes in place.

The beauty of the LCFS regime is that it does not pick winners or losers. Unlike the investment and production tax credits that have helped wind and solar run down the cost curve and compete without subsidy, the LCFS program is not technology specific. Any method that produces a cleaner gallon of fuel (so long as it’s sold in California) or that sequesters CO2 is eligible for credits under the program. May the best technological solution win!

Can you make a biofuel from plants or plant wastes? You qualify for credits since a portion of the carbon is non-fossil. Can you pull CO2 out of the air and bury it underground? That process is carbon negative and you qualify for LCFS credits, as well. Did you build a solar farm that will be used to power EVs? Congrats, have some credits. As the carbon-intensity target under LCFS rules gets stricter over time, producers must create even more climate-friendly fuels or buy still more credits to compensate for their conventional fossil products, which increases the demand for cleaner solutions and supports the price of the credit.

So, how is this program working? LCFS is the major driver of revenue for several innovative, first-of-a-kind facilities being built around the United States right now. Without this subsidy, these projects would not be economically viable; as with wind and solar, the LCFS program is helping these technologies get to market, and their success at scale will help reduce prices and further enhance the economics of alternative fuel sources. Meanwhile, investors are stepping up to support these projects, assuming the risk that future LCFS prices will remain stable and attractive. Their confidence is well-founded: generators of LCFS credits today are banking a portion of their credits for future years, betting that future prices will be higher than today and justifying a ‘hold’ approach on the asset. Billions of dollars of credits now sit unused in savings, waiting for a future where their value is even greater. Other regions have taken notice of this success, and proposals to replicate California’s system are gaining traction in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. The demand for credits is expected to grow substantially over the next decade as more states come online with their own programs.

The great irony for the Trump administration, and all those fighting against California’s clean-air waiver, is that if they “succeed” and auto fuel-economy stagnates, the resulting increased demand for liquid fuels will further enhance the value of the LCFS credit. This provides more financial incentive for new technologies and developers to enter the space and reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels. Perhaps this is not the shortest route to decarbonizing the transportation sector, but it’s not a bad Plan B. When it comes to the future of carbon, California is playing for keeps.

 

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New Energy Risk Welcomes Strategic Hires to Drive Growth & Streamline Client Experience

SAN FRANCISCOSept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurer AXA XL, announced the appointments of Dr. Matt Lucas as Managing Director, Business Development and Dvorit Mausner as Director of Execution. The strategic additions of Dr. Lucas and Ms. Mausner come at an exciting time in New Energy Risk's evolution, as the company surpassed $1.99B in aggregate transactional value supported by its technology performance insurance solutions.

Tom Dickson, CEO of New Energy Risk, remarked that "as we look toward the future, New Energy Risk seeks to expand its business and associated benefits to novel technologies across new sectors and geographies, and provide support for a greater variety and size of projects.   Matt and Dvorit joining our team is a pivotal moment for New Energy Risk as we expand into new technology sectors.

"As the renewable energy sector continues to explode, technology providers are increasingly looking to New Energy Risk to help take revolutionary technologies from development to deployment and commercial scale," Mr. Dickson added. "By bringing on Matt to lead business development and Dvorit to streamline operations, we expect to better serve an increasing number of clients with a more efficient process."

In his new role, Dr. Lucas will lead New Energy Risk's expansion into new technology sectors, geographies, and products. He brings both technical and commercial experience at large corporates and startups to New Energy Risk. He was previously a technology scout for a large corporation, then had operating experience in multiple hardtech university spinoffs, and exposure to public policy advising in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Lucas received his PhD from UC Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering.

Ms. Mausner will support the streamlining and management of the entire client experience. She brings experience scaling six previous operations across the for-profit, academic, and non-profit sectors. She has previously directed engagement for international fundraising and behavior-change campaigns and revitalized a 6,000 sq ft science makerspace. Ms. Mausner is also co-founder and partner of Temescal Brewing in Oakland. Most recently, she designed a pre-seed carbontech startup accelerator. Ms. Mausner studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a business certification from the Wharton School, a Master's in Philanthropy and Social Justice, and a Bachelor's in the Biological Basis of Behavior.

New Energy Risk has also promoted other personnel. Sherry Huang is now Chief Actuary, and Brentan Alexander assumes the role of Chief Commercial Officer in addition to his existing role of Chief Science Officer.

Visit the www.newenergyrisk.com/team to learn more about Dr. Lucas and Ms. Mausner, and to connect with New Energy Risk via contact@newenergyrisk.com.

About New Energy Risk
New Energy Risk is a leading provider of performance risk solutions for breakthrough energy technologies and a pioneer in the development of large-scale technology performance insurance. The company was founded in 2010 to provide complex risk assessment and serve as a bridge between technology innovators and insurers. Since then, New Energy Risk has supported project finance transactions in aggregate value of over $1.99 billion for renewable energy and new technology deployments. New Energy Risk is an affiliate company of AXA XL. To learn more, visit www.newenergyrisk.com.

About AXA XL
AXA XL provides insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized companies through to large multinationals, and reinsurance solutions to insurance companies globally. We partner with those who move the world forward. To learn more, visit www.axaxl.com

 

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New Energy Risk Back $260M Plastics-to-Fuel Plan with Innovative Insurance Solution


Bioproducts are Seeing Major Tailwinds in Renewable Tech


How to Avoid Looking like Theranos when Building Breakthrough Technology

Insurance solution provides performance coverage for the output of Fulcrum's garbage-to-fuels plant


New Innovative Insurance Instruments Will Accelerate Project Development And Deployment For TRI Biorefineries

BALTIMORE, Jan. 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (TRI), the Baltimore-based gasification technology company at the forefront of commercializing biorefineries, is pleased to announce that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with New Energy Risk (NER) that can help accelerate project development, increase profitability, and provide certainty of execution.

After completing due diligence on TRI’s suite of biorefinery-enabling technologies, NER, a leading provider of performance risk solutions for breakthrough technologies and affiliate of global insurance company, AXA XL, is prepared to provide various insurance solutions to biorefinery owners and projects which utilize TRI’s equipment and technology.

TRI has named New Energy Risk and AXA XL as its preferred supplier of technology performance insurance for TRI customers and projects.

“With NER taking the lead on providing solid insurance options to owners using our technology, we have eliminated a key obstacle to making commercial-scale biorefineries profitable and replicable,” said Dan Burciaga, President and CEO of TRI. “NER studied TRI’s 20-year track record of accomplishments and recognized a great opportunity to help make our projects more bankable. This is a great development for us, and for the whole industry.”

TRI is a leading provider of steam reforming gasification systems suitable for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), woody biomass, agricultural residues and other waste feedstocks. Its systems have been selected for and deployed on various commercial North American projects including the Fulcrum Bioenergy Project Sierra Biorefinery in Nevada and Norampac black liquor gasification, a division of Cascades Paper. Additionally, TRI’s multi-feedstock, fully-integrated biorefinery in Durham, North Carolina has run for over 13,000 hours, successfully producing syngas that is particularly well-suited to generating Fischer-Tropsch liquids and upgrading to ASTM-certified fuels.

Burciaga said, “New Energy Risk understands this sector, and they understand our technology. What’s more, they know the types and levels of risk mitigation our project owners and investors need in order to get these projects over the finish line and to get steel into the ground.”

“Our business is in backing technologies with demonstrated reliability,” said Jon Cozens, Chief Commercial Officer at New Energy Risk. “We find the rigor to which TRI has developed and proven its technology to be one of the most thorough we’ve found, and over the last several years TRI has been associated with many of the highest quality projects New Energy Risk vetted. We look forward to accelerating the deployment of the TRI technology and providing assurance to owners and investors that the TRI technology will perform.”

About TRI

Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, TRI is a global leader in steam reforming, an ultra-clean and high-efficiency gasification technology well-suited to a range of biorefinery and power generation applications. TRI’s proprietary process converts cellulosic feedstocks (including post-sorted Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), bark, forest residuals, agricultural waste, energy crops and low rank coals) into a synthesis gas (“syngas”) which can be converted into biofuels, biochemicals and power. TRI partners with world-class technology and EPC providers and licenses its proprietary technologies — including feeder, gasification and gas clean-up systems — as well as provides specialized equipment and engineering services to the global renewable energy sector.

www.tri-inc.net/

About steam reforming gasification Steam-reforming gasification is the first stage in the biomass-to-liquids process that converts woody biomass and other solid feedstocks into premium fuels. Gasifiers convert carbon-containing materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at medium temperatures (>700 °C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The syngas is then cleaned and the carbon monoxide to hydrogen ratio adjusted if necessary to meet the specifications needed for input to chemical catalytic reactors, for example the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process.

http://tri-inc.net/steam-reforming-gasification/

About New Energy Risk

New Energy Risk is a provider of performance risk solutions for breakthrough technologies and pioneer in the development of large-scale technology performance insurance. The company was founded in 2010 to provide complex risk assessment and serve as an effective bridge between technology innovators and insurers. Since then, New Energy Risk has helped its customers gain over $1 billion in financing for renewable energy and new technology deployments. To learn more, visit www.newenergyrisk.com.

About AXA XL

AXA XL provides insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized companies through to large multinationals, and reinsurance solutions to insurance companies globally. We partner with those who move the world forward. To learn more, visit www.axaxl.com

Source provided by: ThermoChem Recovery International, Inc. (TRI) Jan 29, 2019, 07:00 ET


More Money Flows to Flow Batteries: ESS Nabs $13 Million Funding Round

Iron flow battery maker ESS raised $13 million in a Series B round, expanding the pool of cash available to upstart alternative storage companies.

The money will go to automate and expand the manufacturing facilities where the Oregon company makes its containerized long-duration storage product, the Energy Warehouse. If all goes according to plan, the improvements will raise the six-year-old company’s annual output to 900 megawatt-hours.

That’s significant for the small field of long-duration contenders challenging lithium-ion’s dominance in the energy industry today.

Flow battery makers like ESS tout the relative safety of their ingredients compared to lithium-ion, with its flammability and rare earth metals. The alternative chemistries also provide long-duration storage, maintaining high levels of discharge well beyond the 4-hour mark typical of lithium-ion systems today.

The challenge is that little market opportunity exists for 8 hours of storage, and customers and investors tend to be leery of a technology that’s even newer and more exotic than the mainstream batteries.

The new round of funding suggests that at least some investors are changing their minds.

The Series B brought back original investors, including Pangaea Ventures. But it also welcomed new investors global chemical company BASF, Cycle Capital Management, Presidio Partners Investment Management and InfraPartners Management.

“After conducting extensive research across a range of battery technologies, designs and developers, we’ve concluded that ESS offers a superior combination of low-cost, clean, safe and long-life chemistry; scalable architecture, and management experience,” BASF Venture Capital Managing Director Markus Solibieda said in a statement.

ESS closed its Series A in October 2015, raising $3.2 million from Pangaea Ventures, Element 8 and other angel investors. At that time, the company had also been awarded roughly $4.5 million in grants from ARPA-E, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute, and Oregon Best.

This summer, VP of Business Development Bill Sproull told GTM that the near-term strategy is to use demonstration projects to raise awareness about the technology, and to work with EPCs and project developers to get units in the field around the world.

But, Sproull said, ESS is already getting revenue from its demo projects. “We have not had to donate systems to anyone,” he said.

Flow batteries more broadly have made some headway over the past several months.

NEXTracker, a leading solar tracker vendor, recently relaunched its flow battery product and confirmed that it had deployed some units, without saying how much capacity.

Vanadium redox flow battery maker Vionx launched a third-party performance insurance product backed by New Energy Risk. This offering reduces the trust barrier for customers — instead of relying on a young company with a miniscule balance sheet to back a 20-year product, the burden shifts to an established insurer. ViZn Energy similarly developed a third-party insurance product.

Flow battery contender Primus Power secured a $32 million equity raise in April to fund global expansion to Europe, China and South Africa. That brought total equity funding to $94 million, plus another $20 million in government grants.

Originally published at www.greentechmedia.com.


Turning Garbage to Jet Fuel

Insurance solution provides performance coverage for the output of Fulcrum's garbage-to-fuels plant

New Energy Risk Designs Innovative Performance Insurance Program for Fulcrum BioEnergy, as Company Raises $150M for Landmark Waste-to-Fuel Project

Menlo Park, Calif., Dec. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — New Energy Risk, a provider of customized insurance technology solutions for renewable energy projects, has provided Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a company that turns municipal solid waste (MSW) into renewable transportation fuels, with a technology performance insurance solution for Fulcrum’s Sierra BioFuels Plant. The project, currently under construction outside of Reno, Nevada will have the capacity to process 175,000 tons of municipal solid waste into more than 10 million gallons of low-carbon synthetic crude oil on an annual basis, beginning in early 2020. The synthetic crude oil is then processed into transportation fuels. By turning municipal waste into fuel, Fulcrum is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent, and providing a cleaner fuel alternative for airlines, the military, and other customers.

Fulcrum recently raised $150 million in bond financing for the Sierra BioFuels project, and turned to New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurance giant XL Catlin, to provide a performance insurance product to support the financing. The insurance complemented Fulcrum’s patented technology, industry-leading development team and process, as well as feedstock and off-take strategies, in order to increase project attractiveness to investors. Fulcrum’s existing investors include US Renewables Group, Rustic Canyon Partners, United Airlines, Waste Management, BP, and Cathay Pacific.

New Energy Risk is a specialty insurance technology company that acts as an effective bridge between new technology innovators, insurers and lenders. The company used a proprietary techno-economic model that synthesizes scientific understanding, engineering analysis, as well as actuarial and financial expertise to assess the performance of Fulcrum’s technology and potential output of the Sierra BioFuels Plant. After its extensive assessment of the MSW-to-fuels technology and process, New Energy Risk developed a custom solution, backed and provided by XL Catlin, to insure the performance of Fulcrum’s plant. The insurance program provides a significant technology risk mitigant for Sierra BioFuels Plant bondholders who have invested in this revolutionary project.

“The New Energy Risk technology performance insurance solution further strengthened our business model for the Sierra BioFuels Plant, and was an important factor in financing this project,” said Eric Pryor, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Fulcrum BioEnergy. “The New Energy Risk team worked closely with our engineering and technology teams to assess the technical aspects for our innovative project and were successful in creating an impactful and customized insurance product that provides significant risk mitigation for Fulcrum’s bondholders.”

“We’re proud to have supported Fulcrum in their capital raise and are excited to see their leading-edge technology and process grow in both scope and impact – taking a true waste product and converting it into millions of gallons of clean transportation fuels, and creating hundreds of jobs in the process,” said Tom Dickson, CEO of New Energy Risk. “Fulcrum is showing what is possible in the waste-to-fuel space, and doing it at unprecedented scale. We look forward to working with them on more projects in the years to come.”

About New Energy Risk

New Energy Risk is a provider of innovative data analytics and technology performance risk transfer solutions to the new and renewable energy industry worldwide, and pioneered the development of large scale technology performance insurance. It was founded in 2010 to provide complex risk assessment and serve as an effective bridge between clean-energy innovators and insurers, and is part of XL Innovate, an insurance technology venture firm. Since then, New Energy Risk has helped its customers gain over $1 billion in financing for renewable energy and new technology deployments. To learn more, please visit www.newenergyrisk.com.

About XL Catlin

XL Catlin is the global brand used by XL Group Ltd.’s (NYSE: XL) insurance and reinsurance companies which provide property, casualty, professional and specialty products to industrial, commercial and professional firms, insurance companies and other enterprises throughout the world. Clients look to XL Catlin for answers to their most complex risks and to help move their world forward. To learn more, visit xlcatlin.com.

About Fulcrum BioEnergy

Based in Pleasanton, California, Fulcrum is leading the development of a reliable and efficient process for transforming municipal solid waste – or household garbage – into transportation fuels, including jet fuel and diesel. The company’s plants will provide customers with low-cost, low-carbon drop-in fuel that is competitively priced with traditional petroleum fuel. Fulcrum, a privately held company, has aligned itself with strategic feedstock, technology and fuel offtake partners to further strengthen and accelerate the company’s innovative approach to commercially producing large volumes of renewable fuel from municipal solid waste. For more information, please visit www.fulcrum-bioenergy.com.

SOURCE XL Catlin


I Don’t Like Losses, Sport

The remedy

Recently, Fulcrum BioEnergy raised $150 million in bond financing for its Sierra BioFuels project, which will convert up to 175,000 tons of municipal solid waste per year into more than 10 million gallons of low-carbon synthetic crude oil, beginning in early 2020. More on Fulcrum’s progress here — and our most recent Multi-Slide Guide is here.

What happened?

“We start with the engineering data,” explained NER’s Jon Cozens, “ and we end up with actuarial output. From the engineering data we are creating a model and looking at failure modes, and the impact on financing and the risk position. In the event of a failure, we ask, how long will it take to alleviate, is the capital there to handle it, and could the timelines impact loan covenants.

Every financing is different

Sometimes the risk freak-out factor focuses on long-term performance, sometimes around start-up and commissioning.

The best projects survive

“If we can structure around the risk,” Cozens told the Digest. “There are going to be fewer failures and more successes. But we want to help the strong projects and keep the projects not yet ready on the back burner. Even if we structured our way out of a loss [from a single project], we all need to grow the capital base, and that means not just doing projects for the sake of it and making money for ourselves, but identifying and supporting the best projects.”


Vionx Secures Insurance Product for Its Flow Batteries

Let’s Get Bankable: Vionx Secures Insurance Product for Its Flow Batteries

The product adds a bigger balance sheet to the performance guarantee, potentially de-risking investments in vanadium redox flow batteries.

Flow battery maker Vionx took a step toward easier sales by releasing an insurance product for its technology.

The Massachusetts company teamed up with New Energy Risk to create a performance insurance policy that covers energy, power, round-trip efficiency and availability of the vanadium redox flow systems. This could open a new chapter in the bankability of insurgent battery technologies challenging lithium-ion’s dominance.

Flow battery makers argue that their long-duration systems can cycle for years without degradation, making them ultimately cheaper to own than lithium-ion batteries, which fade over time. The lifetime cost of ownership argument, though, requires the customer to believe the company’s claims about its new technology, even though it hasn’t been operating for more than a few years.

Having an outside entity vet the technology changes the dynamic of trust. Vionx asserts that this is the first insurance product for a utility-scale flow battery.

“It takes Vionx from, ‘We can compete on price; trust us,’ to ‘We can compete on price, but you don’t have to trust us, because it’s guaranteed by an insurance company,'” said Daniel Finn-Foley, an energy storage analyst at GTM Research.

Besides confidence in the technology, the end customer needs to feel secure that if something does go wrong, someone’s on the hook to fix it.

Performance guarantees have become standard for long-term lithium-ion storage contracts with major utilities, Finn-Foley noted. Recent utility-scale projects in California included 20-year performance warranties, which means the developer will absorb the cost of replacing batteries and inverters as they give out.

That’s a credible commitment from a company like AES, which has been building storage systems for a decade and has a market cap of $7.3 billion.

It’s a lot harder to convince customers when a company has only been around for a few years and has delivered just a few small pilot-scale projects. The insurance offering shifts the ultimate burden of accountability from Vionx to New Energy Risk, an affiliate of global insurance company XL Catlin.

The customer for the policy would be the engineering, procurement and construction contractor that purchases Vionx batteries as part of an energy storage project. If any issues arise with a deployed system, Vionx still has the affirmative obligation to repair or replace according to warranty. The insurance covers the scenario in which there’s a performance shortfall and Vionx can’t fulfill the warranty.

“Vionx is a small company, but you have this financial support if anything does go wrong,” said Alan Dash, a member of the Vionx board.

Phrased differently, this means that New Energy Risk (NER) has sufficient confidence in Vionx’s flow systems to put its name and money behind them.

Under the arrangement, NER is offering an initial tranche of $50 million of coverage for Vionx’s current pipeline.

“We are prepared to provide additional capacity as Vionx grows and customer adoption increases in the marketplace,” said NER CEO Tom Dickson.

The insurer’s confidence stems from a nearly 20-month vetting process. The NER analysts took a deeply technical approach, crunching through raw performance data from field units and accelerated lifetime testing, said Chief Commercial Officer Jon Cozens.

The company specializes in seeking out promising emerging energy technologies from companies with limited balance sheets, and offering them creditworthy support, Cozens said.

“In the energy finance construct, a lot of times lenders require balance-sheet support to finance the deal,” Cozens said. “Our business is fundamentally around enabling project finance.”

This boost comes at a pivotal time for Vionx, which is looking to expand from its first few demos to broader commercial production.

The company has two systems operating today in Massachusetts: a 160-kilowatt, 4-hour system at an Army Reserve base at Fort Devens, and a 500-kilowatt, 6-hour system at Holy Name High School in Worcester. Vionx has built partnerships with other veteran companies to help move the product, including UTC, Siemens and 3M.

I was able to track down one other flow battery insurance product. ViZn Energy has developed an insurance product that it is actively sharing with specific customers in three-way meetings with insurance providers, VP of Marketing Mike Grunow confirmed in an email.

In fairness to Vionx, ViZn has not broadcast this information, and insurance has not been needed on its announced bookings so far. The trophy for first flow battery insurance sold, then, remains up for grabs.

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