World’s largest air carbon capture plant starts up in Iceland

COPENHAGEN, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – The world’s largest factory that sucks carbon dioxide directly from the air and deposits it underground is set to start operating on Wednesday, the company behind the fledgling green technology said.

Swiss start-up Climeworks AG, which specializes in capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, has teamed up with Icelandic carbon storage company Carbfix to develop a plant that sucks up to 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

This is the equivalent of the annual emissions of about 790 cars. Last year, global CO2 emissions totaled 31.5 billion tonnes, according to the International Energy Agency.

Direct air capture is one of the few technologies that extracts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and is seen by scientists as vital in limiting global warming, which is accused of causing more heat waves, d forest fires, floods and sea level rise. Read more

The Orca plant, a reference to the Icelandic word for energy, consists of eight large containers similar to those used in the shipping industry, which use high-tech filters and fans to extract carbon dioxide.

The isolated carbon is then mixed with water and pumped deep underground, where it slowly turns into rock. Both technologies are powered by renewable energy from a nearby geothermal power plant.

Direct air capture is still an emerging and expensive technology, but developers are hoping to lower prices by raising prices as more businesses and consumers seek to reduce their carbon footprint.

According to the IEA, 15 direct air collection plants are currently operating around the world, capturing more than 9,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

US oil company Occidental is currently developing the world’s largest direct aerial capture facility, to extract 1 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide from the open air near some of its Texas oil fields.

Climeworks, which recently signed a 10-year carbon phase-out purchase contract with large insurance company Swiss Re (SRENH.S), also offers a subscription service, which allows consumers to pay for the carbon removal through monthly payments.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; edited by David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About Kristina McManus

Kristina McManus

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