As energy players continue digesting the massive Inflation Reduction Act, companies in the U.S. are pushing forward on the journey to net-zero emissions.

This week, oilfield service company Liberty announced its investment in Natron Energy, a sodium-ion battery manufacturer. On the biofuels front, biomass producer Enviva sealed a deal with Alder Fuels for sustainable aviation fuels.

Activity continued in the developing hydrogen sector with news that ConocoPhillips will provide natural gas and manage a carbon capture and storage facility for a proposed U.S. hydrogen gas project to be jointly developed with Japan’s largest utility. Plus, the U.S. Department of Energy launched another Energy Earthshot, targeting geothermal.

Overseas, hydrogen projects also advanced as more wind farms came online.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s renewable energy news.


Natron Lands Funds from Liberty Oilfield Services

Oilfield service company Liberty has invested in sodium-ion battery manufacturer Natron Energy, looking to batteries to provide backup power for its electric frac pumps, Liberty said Sept. 6 in a news release.

The sodium-ion batteries are expected to maximize uptime and optimize generator utilization, while keeping emissions low for onsite power generation, according to Liberty.

“The careful evaluation of sources of energy storage for our power-dense operations led our team to determine that Natron’s sodium-ion batteries are a safe, cost-effective solution that is already being utilized in industrial applications,” Ron Gusek, president of Liberty, said in a news release.

“Together, Liberty’s digiFrac and Natron’s batteries will advance environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals of reducing emissions, maintaining high safety standards and delivering a low total cost of ownership solution to Liberty’s customers.”

Natron plans to uses the funds to accelerate production of its Prussian blue sodium-ion technology, which it says offers higher power density and longer service life than other batteries.

“Our partnership with Liberty dramatically accelerates Natron’s expansion into oil and gas markets with the introduction of battery storage in the completion services industry,” Natron co-founder and CEO Colin Wessells said.


Enviva, Alder Strike Deal on Biomass for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Enviva Inc. and privately held Alder Fuels have agreed to partner on the long-term supply of biomass byproducts from timber for making a biofuel for aviation, a key part of cutting carbon emissions from air travel, the companies said Sept. 6.

Under the agreement, Enviva, a U.S. producer of woody biomass, will supply up to 750,000 tonnes per year of what it said is sustainably sourced forest byproducts like treetops and tree limbs to Alder, which is building a facility in the U.S. Southeast to make an energy-dense liquid that can be refined into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). They expect the agreement to begin in 2024.

The biomass under the deal can make about 37 million gallons a year of SAF, a replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel, and is the largest such U.S. agreement, Alder CEO Bryan Sherbacow, told Reuters. The companies did not reveal the terms of the deal.


Energy Department Aims to Lower Geothermal Costs

The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking to lower the cost of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) by 90% to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035 with its latest Energy Earthshot initiative.

The Geothermal Shot, announced Sept. 8, is targeting the more than 5 terawatts of heat resources in the U.S. to power communities. Capturing “even a small fraction” could power more than 40 million American homes, the Energy Department said in a statement.

The move is part of the Biden administration’s goals of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Conditions in these EGS reservoirs— where temperatures can reach 380 C or higher at deeper depths—can be harsh. Besides the hot temperatures, rocks are hot and abrasive and the environment corrosive, the energy department explained. The Geothermal Shot plans to address the challenges by accelerating R&D and demonstrations to improve subsurface knowledge. It also seeks to improve well engineering designs.


Newpoint Teams with J.W. Didado on Ohio Hydrogen Complex

Newpoint, Didado Electric
J.W. Didado Electric to Partner with Newpoint Gas on Advanced Hydrogen Generation and Carbon Sequestration Project near Piketon, Ohio. (Source: Business Wire)

Electrical contractor J.W. Didado Electric is teaming with Newpoint Gas to transform the former U.S. Department of Energy’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant into an advanced hydrogen generation facility near Piketon, Ohio, the companies said Sept. 8.

The $1.5 billion project, called h2Trillium Energy and Manufacturing (h2TEAM) Complex, will be a closed loop manufacturing facility powered by clean hydrogen with carbon sequestration, according to a news release.

J.W. Didado Electric said it has signed a teaming agreement with Newpoint Gas to serve as a design assist and installation partner and provide electrical and grid services work for the project.

McDermott Lands Contract for Gunvor’s Green Hydrogen Project

Gunvor Petroleum has selected Houston-based McDermott International to carry out FEED work for a green hydrogen import terminal project in the Netherlands.

The engineering and construction company, along with its CB&I storage business, said Sept. 7 that it will support the Rotterdam project with FEED activities for the interconnecting pipeline, tie-ins and other Outside Battery Limits scope, while CB&I will provide the FEED of the ammonia tank and associated Inside Battery Limits equipment.

“As part of the FEED, a project execution cost estimate will be developed as basis for a potential conversion into an engineering, construction and procurement contract for the implementation phase,” McDermott said in the release.

The import terminal is expected to begin providing green hydrogen in 2026, according to Gunvor.

ConocoPhillips, JERA Propose Developing US Hydrogen Plant

ConocoPhillips, one of the largest U.S. independent oil producers, will provide natural gas and manage a carbon capture and storage facility for a proposed U.S. hydrogen gas project to be jointly developed with Japan’s largest utility JERA, the companies said Sept. 5.

The agreement to supply gas for hydrogen, a potential clean fuel for electricity production, marks a new avenue for natural gas producers. Several companies, including ConocoPhillips, have lined up long-term supply contracts with LNG developers that supply utilities.

A study to determine the hydrogen project's feasibility could be complete by year-end, according to JERA, the Japanese gas and electricity firm behind the plant. It aims to produce hydrogen from natural gas and convert it into exportable ammonia for sale in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

“JERA and ConocoPhillips will be a low-cost ammonia supplier to domestic and international markets," said JERA Americas Chief Executive Steven Winn. The plant could be in operation within five to eight years at a site along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

JERA Americas, a U.S. arm of JERA, said the company, Germany’s Uniper SE and ConocoPhillips aim to initially produce 2 million tonnes of ammonia per year and could expand to 8 million tonnes per annum. Ammonia typically is used to make fertilizers but offers a low-carbon fuel that could be burned to produce electricity.

JERA is considering several sites along the Gulf Coast for the hydrogen, ammonia and CCS site, a spokesperson said, powered in part by JERA's U.S. renewable energy operations.


Siemens, Saipem Partner to Develop Floating Electrical Substation Concept

Saipem plans to combine its engineering expertise with Siemens Energy’s transmission portfolio to develop a concept design for a floating electrical substation for use in offshore wind, the companies said Sept. 5.

The two signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the concept design for a 500 MW high-voltage alternating current floating electrical substation. Hopes are the design, which could be adapted to fabrication and assembly infrastructures, will lower the levelized cost of energy for floating wind farms.

“The new joint solution will significantly optimize critical technical parameters, such as weight, electrical efficiency, and asset longevity, thus lowering the production costs and enabling an unprecedented number of countries to benefit from large-scale offshore wind generation,” Agustin Tenorio, vice president of transmission systems for Siemens Energy, said in the release.

Targeting deep water, the scalable technology will be designed to operate in extreme environments and will be based on a proven semi-submersible substructure, according to a news release. It would also have a lighter substructure and an easier and asset-light installation.

“The new concept will be an enabler to enhance offshore wind developments in deeper waters by lowering the overall infrastructure investment,” Fabrizio Botta, chief commercial officer of Saipem, said in the statement.

Baltic Power Lines Up Contracts for Baltic Sea Wind Farm

Baltic Power, joint venture
Baltic Power is scheduled to begin generating energy in 2026. The wind farm is located in the Baltic Sea. (Source: Baltic Power)

Baltic Power said Sept. 9 it has signed contracts to develop its wind farm project in the Baltic Sea.

The joint venture project of Poland’s PKN Orlen and Northland Power is scheduled to begin generating energy in 2026.

Steelwind Nordenham will supply the monopile foundations for all infrastructure for the wind farm. The wind turbine foundations will be steel piles, towering 120 m high and driven up to 50 m depth into the seabed, Baltic said in a news release.

Smulders, a Belgian fabrication company, will supply the transition pieces to join the foundations with the wind turbine generators, while Van Oord will handle the offshore transportation and installation of the foundation components.

A consortium of Denmark’s Bladt Industries and Norway’s Semco Maritime will also be responsible for the design, production and installation of offshore power stations, the company said.

“Securing these supplier contracts mark major project milestones for the Baltic Power project,” Christian Voelcker, interim vice president offshore construction of the Northland Power, said in the release. “Leveraging our expertise from already established offshore wind resources in Germany and other parts of Europe, Baltic Power will play a significant role in Poland’s clean energy transition for the long-term.”

EDPR Connects New Wind Farm in Sicily

EDP Renewables said Sept. 8 it has connected a new 44-MW wind farm with nine turbines in Sicily, Italy.

The Fulgatore wind farm will be capable of producing 8 GWh per year, enough to provide electricity to 27,680 households and lower CO2 emissions by about 39,000 tons per year, EDPR said in a news release.

The project brings EDPR’s total installed wind capacity in Italy to 463 MW.

Reuters contributed to this article.