Favourable Court Ruling toward Acquisition of Mixed Feedstock Market Development Centre for France
EQTEC plc (AIM: EQT), a world-leading technology innovation company enabling the Net Zero Future through advanced solutions for hydrogen, biofuels, SNG and other energy production, is pleased to announce that its wholly owned French subsidiary, EQTEC France SAS (“EQTEC France”) has acquired, subject to final approval, and intends to upgrade and recommission a 6.5 MWe waste-to-energy gasification plant in Villers-sous-Montrond, France (the “Plant”). The Plant, once operational, will transform c. 45,000 tonnes of mixed waste wood and refuse-derived fuel (“RDF”) to export clean electricity to the national grid.
The Company intends that the Plant become the EQTEC Market Development Centre (“MDC”) for France (“France MDC”), to showcase EQTEC’s capabilities with variable feedstock, including a mixture of Grade A waste wood, Grade B waste wood and RDF, all to be used continuously at the Plant. The Plant, which originally benefitted from c. €35 million of investment, will be acquired by the Company at a nominal value, as it has been estimated that further investment of c. €30 million is required to recommission the plant utilising EQTEC’s technology. It is believed to require only replacement of the previous technology with EQTEC technology and a small amount of other equipment. EQTEC expects an accelerated construction and commissioning schedule once full acquisition of the Plant has been achieved. Expressions of interest for the full funding required including Letters of Intent (the “LoIs”) from institutional infrastructure investors have been received for the project. Construction is expected to commence in Q1 2023.
The Plant was originally developed by Group Bonnefoy (“Bonnefoy”) on Bonnefoy’s stone quarry site located at Villers-sous-Montrond, near the Franco-Swiss border. The gasification plant was designed using non-EQTEC technologies, but the Plant was never fully commissioned, as the previous technology did not successfully complete performance and endurance tests. The previous project SPV, Synnov Déchets SAS (“Synnov”) entered bankruptcy in November 2021, after which EQTEC was approached as a potential buyer.
Pursuant to EQTEC France’s offer to acquire the Plant, a local court ruling dated 13 July 2022 (the “Ruling”) ordered the legal transfer of negotiated contracts and tangible assets of Synnov to EQTEC France, subject to final approval from the French Ministère de l’économie, des finances et de l’industrie (“MINEFI”). Approvals are scheduled for completion by the end of Q3 2022 (the “Approvals”).
· The Plant, once operational, is expected to generate in excess of €10 million in annual revenues, with further potential to improve the economics of the Plant;
· The Plant will process and transform a mixture of c. 45,000 tonnes of wood waste and RDF sourced and prepared by Bonnefoy Group into 6.5 MWe of power for export to the national grid, with potential to increase the amount of energy produced in the future;
· Pursuant to the Ruling, EQTEC may now commence full engineering and design works and secure all relevant, administrative authorisation and contracts toward financial close with third-party investors;
· EQTEC France has received two LoIs from two institutional funders specialising in similar infrastructure investments; the LoIs express interest by the potential funders in providing project finance for the Plant, subject to customary due diligence;
· The Company has received expressions of interest from two French energy companies to potentially become owner-operators, once the plant is successfully commissioned;
· At financial close, all commercial requirements will have been addressed, including feedstock supply, long-lease agreement and agreement of a PPA tariff more favourable than that established previously by Synnov;
· Following commissioning of the Plant, EQTEC expects to act as the technology supplier and O&M contractor;
· Ownership of the project will be established through a new SPV to be set up in France by EQTEC France SAS;
· Pursuant to the Ruling and the Approvals, the assets of Synnov would be transferred to EQTEC France, including the entirety of the existing plant from the feeding-in system to the grid-connected inverters, along with the existing environmental permit and associated contracts including for the feed-in tariff with EDF Obligation d’Achat (“EDF OA”); and
· Prior to application to the courts for the Ruling, the Company carried out a preliminary technical audit and legal due diligence toward acquisition of the Plant from bankruptcy, improvement of the Plant’s business model, adaptation of the technology process and recommissioning of it.
David Palumbo, CEO of EQTEC, commented:
“As expected, France is proving to be a very receptive market for EQTEC technology solutions. We earlier this year announced our partnership with SEPS for clean conversion of contaminated plastics into a variety of valuable offtake applications and now we are pleased to announce the France MDC. This project is special because it will demonstrate EQTEC’s capabilities with mixed feedstock, including waste wood and RDF together. EQTEC’s ability to handle feedstock variability has always set us apart and this plant will again demonstrate how we address one of the critical risks to commercial syngas production. Additionally, we will have a Market Development Centre in France that we can use to showcase the technical and commercial performance of our plants and catalyse further interest from project funders and owners-operators.”
This announcement contains inside information as defined in Article 7 of the EU Market Abuse Regulation No 596/2014, as it forms part of United Kingdom domestic law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as amended, and has been announced in accordance with the Company’s obligations under Article 17 of that Regulation.
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David Palumbo / Nauman Babar
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