It feels like we’ve been eagerly following Climeworks progress for years and years, though it’s probably been since about 2017 when they launched their first commercial plant. They’ve been spearheading the development and deployment of Direct Air Capture and Storage (DAC+S) for some time.
It was fantastic to see that, in 2022, they delivered their first tonnes of carbon removal from the world’s first operational DAC+S - their Orca plant - in Iceland, in partnership with Carbfix (who provide the storage), and that it was fully verified by DNV.
Their vision includes inspiring 1 billion people to help remove carbon dioxide from the air. We couldn’t agree more with this ambition, as empowering and engaging people to take science-backed climate action is also part of the Zopeful mission.
Exciting times! We’re thrilled to be working with Climeworks and including their Direct Air Capture and Storage in our .
Type: Direct Air Capture and Storage
Permanence of carbon removal: 10,000+ years
Locations: Switzerland, Iceland, Germany and the USA
Similar to our science-backed thoughts, Climeworks advocates making a clear distinction between the role of deep decarbonization - reducing the vast majority of current planet-heating emissions - and removing the excess carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. New CO₂ emissions must decrease by at least 90% by 2050 according to the IPCC. In addition, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions are needed to neutralize any residual emissions and enable the world to achieve net zero CO₂ by 2050.
Led by co-CEOs Jan Wurzbacher and Christoph Gebald, they've raised $810 million in total to develop, deploy and scale DAC+S technology globally.
Climeworks offers one of the highest-quality carbon dioxide removal solutions available today. Its quality stands out because it offers permanent removal by storing the CO₂ underground for thousands of years, and the removed CO₂ is entirely additional and measurable – they can measure exactly every tonne of CO₂ that is removed.
Their commercial plants run on 100% renewables and they require relatively little land so it does not compete with food and water security.
If you’ve been following carbon removal for a while you’ll already know how crucial Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) is to creating integrity and trust while growing the carbon removal industry.
Climeworks is leading the way in this. They were the first DAC company to deliver third-party verified carbon removal services, guaranteeing the removals are properly performed, measured and reported. Go team!
Once the CO₂ has been collected by their machines, it is pumped underground by Carbfix, where it mineralizes so it is safely and durably stored for thousands of years or more. It’s effectively permanent.
We love that they are aligning their efforts to the IPCC, SBTi and the science behind the Paris Agreement target of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius, while also making the case for the distinct and interdependent roles of both emissions reductions and removals.
The inspiration for Climeworks goes back almost two decades. Their two co-founders Jan and Christoph met on their first day of university at ETH Zurich in 2003 and quickly became friends. Besides their love for engineering, they both share a passion for alpine sports and spent a lot of time in the Swiss Alps. Here, they experienced the effects of climate change firsthand. Shocked by the retreat of the glaciers, they vowed to do everything they can to tackle climate change - one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced.
Jan and Christoph committed themselves to creating a solution that empowers everyone to act. Being engineers at heart they focused on what they did best: develop a technology. During their PhDs, they researched how to capture carbon dioxide from the air, continued as entrepreneurs and founded Climeworks in 2009 as an ETH spin-off. Now, Climeworks is the world's leading direct air capture company and provides a solution that empowers everyone to fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air.
The company employs over 300 people around the world.
With a CO2 efficiency of 90%+, high storage permanence and using renewable energy, Climeworks' DAC+S has a role to play in fighting climate change.
Climeworks operate the world’s only DAC+S facility in commercial operations - their Orca plant, located in Iceland. It has a capture capacity of 4000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Ambient air is drawn into collector containers and the CO2 is captured on a highly selective filter material, called a sorbent.
Once the CO2 is captured it is pumped underground by Climework's storage partner, Carbfix, where it mineralizes and is stored safely for tens of thousands of years.
Their next plant, named Mammoth, is currently under construction, and will have an nominal capture capacity of up to 36,000 tonnes per year. We're inspired both by their progress to date, as well as ambition to keep growing.
Climeworks have partnered with over 160 companies, including Microsoft, BCG, UBS and Swiss Re, to remove CO2 from the air. These early buyers have enabled Climeworks to continue to deliver on their ambitious growth plans. We can’t wait to see what comes next for them!
Orca, Climeworks’ first large-scale direct air capture and storage plant has a nominal capture capacity of up to 4000 tonnes per year. Their next plant, Mammoth, is under construction and will have a nominal capacity of up to 36,000 tonnes per year when it comes online in 2024.
Their goal is to reach megatonne (millions of tonnes) capacity per year by 2030 with their DAC technology which has a 90% CO₂ efficiency, all powered by 100% renewable energy.
They’re looking towards building the capability to be at gigatonne - a billion tonnes - of carbon removal per year by 2050. We’re rooting for them at every step.
In addition, Climeworks and Carbfix have developed the world's first full-chain methodology dedicated to carbon dioxide removal via direct air capture and underground mineralization storage. This methodology has been validated by the independent quality and assurance leader DNV. It's a key element to have in place to create trust and transparency in Direct Air Capture and Storage as a key carbon removal solution.
To achieve Net Zero (& beyond) we need to grow global carbon removal capacity to somewhere between 5 to 10 gigatonnes per year by 2050. Direct Air Capture + Storage has the potential - from a carbon storage permanence, additionality and scaling potential - to contribute to achieving this goal.
DAC+S is one solution in the climate change fighting toolbox of decarbonization and removals that are important to invest in now, so they’re available at the size we need, when we need them.
Zopeful's Carbon Removal Portfolios primarily look at solutions that are as-permanent-as-possible-for-the-$, combined with additionality and verifiability. As you may know from our climate courses, we're very conscious of climate justice issues as well. There can be no full transition to a zero emissions world that isn't just. We're including carbon removal partners in the portfolios that engage and include local communities in the countries they operate in.
It is clear that global warming's negative effects disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities worldwide. That injustice is a key factor in the potential of DAC to be an important part of the solution to the dual climate and equity challenge, and is central to Climeworks' approach. At Climeworks’ fourth highlighted how DAC technologies like Climeworks’ have the potential to benefit the local communities in which they are built. A holistic approach to understanding the needs, experiences and skills of local stakeholders underpins the creation of a just and global industry that CDR is set to become.
Climeworks' first commercial scale DAC facility - Orca
As you’ll be aware from our climate courses, slowing climate change not only requires us to reduce emissions from the current levels, we also need to take out hundreds of billions of tonnes we’ve already added to the atmosphere over the last 200 years. DAC+S has a role to play in this.
We are excited by Climework’s ambition to scale DAC+S to a million tonnes per year over the next few years. Their focus on innovation to make the currently high cost of direct air capture more affordable encourages us of the role it can play in removing planet-heating carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere at scale, and contribute to combating climate change.
Read more about Direct Air Capture + Storage and why we include it in our CDR portfolios 👇
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We're excited to be working with an inspiring group of global CDR companies taking the fight to the Climate Crisis. They're doing amazing work that holds a tonne - pun intended - of promise.