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Huron Clean Energy begins pre-FEED on commercial-scale DAC-to-fuels facility

In Canada, Huron Clean Energy (Huron), together with its partners – The Upper Nicola Band, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC, and Carbon Engineering Ltd (CE) – has announced that preliminary engineering and design has begun on a large-scale, commercial facility in British Columbia (BC) that would produce transportation fuel out of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

Huron Clean Energy (Huron), together with The Upper Nicola Band, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC, and Carbon Engineering Ltd (CE), has begun preliminary engineering and design on a large commercial-scale facility in British Columbia (BC) that would produce transportation fuels out of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and green hydrogen (photo courtesy Huron).

The proposed facility is being designed to utilize CE’s Direct Air Capture (DAC) and “AIR TO FUELS” technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air and deliver up to 100 million litres of ultra-low carbon fuel each year.

Our vision at Huron is to inspire a global shift towards preserving the planet, and we hope to realize this through the deployment of CE’s game-changing technology across Canada. This will be pure Canadian innovation. In cooperation with First Nations partners, CE and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, we will leverage the expertise of both Occidental and Huron to deliver facilities that will bring significant emissions reductions and environmental benefits. They will also lead to the development of new Canadian industries and thousands of Canadian jobs, said Michael Hutchison, President of Huron.

Powered by BC’s clean hydroelectricity, the plant will combine atmospheric CO2 with hydrogen to produce renewable transportation fuels, such as renewable gasoline, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

These fuels create up to 90 percent fewer emissions than conventional hydrocarbons and work in existing airplanes, ships, trucks and cars without the need to modify the vehicles or engines.

According to CE, its AIR TO FUELS solution provides a pathway to significantly reduce transportation emissions. These fuels can be an important complement to electric vehicles by providing clean liquid fuel for transport sectors that are difficult to electrify and today require the high energy density of liquid fuels, such as aviation and shipping.

Carbon Engineering’s climate solutions were developed here at home in Canada, with B.C. providing the ideal location for our company to innovate and grow. I couldn’t think of a more fitting location for the proposed development of our first commercial AIR TO FUELS plant. Our Canadian-made solutions have the potential to be key tools in the efforts to achieve the Province’s CleanBC and Canada’s net-zero goals, and we’re grateful for the B.C. Government’s continued support and commitment to the low-carbon transition, said Steve Oldham, CEO of CE.

Construction expected 2023

The facility is slated to be built 25 km from Merritt, on one of Upper Nicola Band’s eight reserves. The plant is expected to occupy approximately 100 acres of commercially designated band land, and Huron has partnered with Upper Nicola Holdings Limited Partnership (UNHLP) on a land and business participation agreement.

Upper Nicola is excited to partner on this innovative development and we are honored to play a role in implementing new technology to lower emissions and tackle climate change. Through UNHLP, we have been quietly advancing other clean energy development on our Reserve lands and this project aligns perfectly with our Community and Economic priorities, said Chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Band.

Huron intends to partner with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Occidental), as Huron’s execution and operations partner on the project.

Occidental has more than 40 years of carbon management experience and leadership, and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures is applying our technical ingenuity and engineering skill to help make large-scale DAC facilities a reality. We look forward to working with Huron and Carbon Engineering to commercialize the combination of DAC and AIR TO FUELS technology, said Richard Jackson, President, US Onshore Resources and Carbon Management, Occidental.

Construction is expected to begin in 2023 with operations targeted to commence approximately three years after that.

Pre-FEED initiated

The partners have commenced a preliminary feasibility engineering and design study on the AIR TO FUELS facility. The BC Government’s Innovative Clean Energy Fund is contributing CA$2 million in funding to the initial design work, demonstrating the Province’s continuing support for home-grown cleantech innovations.

CE’s proprietary technology was conceived and designed in Canada. As part of the project evaluation, the federal government, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, is evaluating the project and tracking the engineering work closely.

The Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund was established in 2007 and was designed to support the government’s energy and environmental priorities and advance British Columbia’s clean energy sector. It receives funding through a 0.4 percent levy on the final sale of specified energy products – currently natural gas, fuel oil, and propane distribution systems.

As an initial investor in the demonstration plant in Squamish, the federal government is keen to determine the best path to deploy the technology in Canada. The proposed project is expected to create thousands of local jobs during construction and hundreds of high-quality jobs for the ongoing operation of the facility.

By working together in partnership with the Upper Nicola First Nation, we are funding new, innovative technology to advance reconciliation and build a low-carbon future for B.C. Through CleanBC, this project upon completion will significantly reduce emissions while creating long-term, clean jobs for people in the Nicola Valley, said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

With a target production capability of up to 100 million litres of fuel each year, the project is expected to make a significant contribution to the B.C. Government’s CleanBC target of 650 million litres of renewable and low-carbon fuel production by 2030.

The project is also expected to create demand for up to 25 000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually, representing Canada’s largest green hydrogen project announced to date – a clear demonstration of B.C.’s Hydrogen Strategy in action.

The Merritt Electro Fuels Project advances made-in-B.C. technology to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and convert it into clean fuels. This innovative, world-leading project will support our economy’s shift away from fossil fuels while creating new jobs and opportunities for British Columbians, said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation.

Huron has appointed Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd., a member of the Macquarie Group of companies, and Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc., the corporate finance arm of EY LLP, as co-financial advisors in connection with the commercialization and financing of the project.

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