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Climeworks' direct air carbon capture plant to remove 4,000 mt CO2/year


Orca project in Iceland to store CO2 underground

First ever large-scale direct air carbon capture unit

Modular design makes technology scalable, company says

  • Author
  • Frank Watson
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Fox
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition
  • Topic
  • Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability

Direct air carbon capture company Climeworks has started construction of a plant in Iceland that will trap and bury 4,000 mt/year of CO2, it said Dec. 2.

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The plant -- which will run on renewable energy -- will be the first ever large-scale direct air carbon capture and storage facility, according to the company.

"Climeworks' new plant, Orca, demonstrates that scalable, pure carbon dioxide removal via direct air capture is possible, and we are excited to be a vital part in kickstarting the carbon dioxide removal industry," said Climeworks co-CEO and co-founder Christoph Gebald.

Construction of the plant started in October and will take six months to complete, he said in a statement.

"Due to the modular nature of the Climeworks technology, it is possible to achieve short construction times, which will be a key enabler for scaling the technology in the future," the company said.

Once complete in the spring of 2021, the facility will remove 4,000 mt/year of CO2 from the atmosphere, making it the largest direct air capture and storage plant to date, it said.

The Orca project is being built close to ON Power's Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland. All the energy required to run the direct air capture process will come from renewable sources.

The Hellisheidi plant is one of the world's largest geothermal power generating facilities, with an installed capacity of just over 300 MW of electricity and up to 400 MW of thermal energy.

The underground storage of CO2 at the Orca project will be performed by Carbfix -- a process that turns CO2 into stone underground in less than two years using technology that imitates and accelerates natural processes.

CO2 removal from the atmosphere is one side of a twin challenge that companies and governments face in reaching net-zero emissions targets by 2050 -- the other being approaches that reduce emissions into the atmosphere such as replacing carbon-intensive power plants, industrial facilities and transport fuels with cleaner alternatives.