A £2 billion wave of capital backing hydrogen’s green, hydrocarbon-free version peaked even higher today, in the wake of linked investment intentions announced in the past twenty four hours.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, boss of refining behemoth INEOS, announced via a newspaper that sum to expand electrolyser output this decade in Germany, Belgium and Norway, followed by plants in France and the UK.
“Hydrogen is the dream fuel”, Ineos’ founder and chairman assured readers of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. “You can heat your home with it. You can drive your car on it. Burn it and all it produces is energy, and the only by-product is water. We can all live with that”.
“The world has committed to hugely reducing its carbon emissions and hydrogen is unquestionably going to play a large part in accomplishing this goal”, the Monaco-based entrepreneur added. He specified no more precise timelines.
Meanwhile specialist investor start-up HydrogenOne Capital Growth plc today pledged its first equity investment to a German builder of solid oxide (SOEC) electrolysers. Ineos is a key investor in Simon Hogan’s niche fund, set up only this year.
The Dresden-headquartered engineers build patent-protected pressurised alkaline and solid oxide electrolysers, deployable on clients’ sites to make carbon-free gas for sectors currently hooked on hydrocarbons for feedstock and power.
Fuel cells for heating and off-grid power complete Sunfire’s product range. The firm employs around 300 people, including in Norway & Switzerland.
Hogan’s minority stake contributes to Sunfire’s successful quest for € 109 million/ £ 91 million. The German engineers today reported pledges of equity from existing investors Planet First Partners, Lightrock and US-based Carbon Direct Capital Management, as well as from new backers.
In a statement Sunfire hailed its £ 91 million sweep as marking “the largest equity raise of a green-hydrogen-focused private company anywhere to date”.
Sunfire wants to open expand electrolyser production in Germany, boosting output based on its pressurised alkaline technology towards 500 MW by 2023.
In the EU alone, current policies adopted last year call for 80GW of electrolysis capacity by 2030, compared to less than 1GW today. Ineos’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe was prominent among British industrialists in campaigning in 2016 for Britain to leave the EU.
In the medium term Sunfire intends to ratchet up its manufacturing by multi-gigawatts, as well as deploying its solid oxide know-how in pumping ‘e-fuels’ for jet aviation, accessed through joint ventures.
HydrogenOne’s initial public offering on the LSE this July came with a remit to deliver capital growth from stakes in hydrogen’s clean variety, plus complementary assets. Via listed equities, these now make up around 10% of its assets managed.
Today’s £20 million stake in Sunfire accounts for approximately 30% of the net proceeds of HydrogenOne’s IPO three months ago.
Hogan said, “We are delighted to announce the first private capital investment for HydrogenOne”.
“Sunfire was one of the pipeline investments we identified pre-IPO and fully aligns with our strategy to invest material positions in companies that are pivotal to the increased production of clean hydrogen.
Sunfire’s CEO Nils Aldag commented, “The new funds will enable Sunfire to industrialise its two principal electrolysis technologies. By building the first in a series of production gigafactories, we aim at creating both meaningful electrolysis capacity for our customers and attractive returns for our investors.”
In a third, unrelated development, Chris Jackson’s hydrogen makers Protium have announced plans to develop a 40GW electrolyser factory in Teesside on 58 acres owned by offshore engineering services firm Wilton Universal Group.
Jackson hit the headlines in August, resigning as chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, in disgust at the Johnson government’s indulgence of methane-derived ‘blue’ hydrogen.
Quitting the day before Johnson’s hydrogen strategy was published, Jackson described its blue variety as ‘an expensive distraction’.