Up-scaling CO2 capture

A seemingly landmark agreement was signed on 26 August, marking a significant uptick in ambition for carbon capture and storage technology in Europe. Hailed as a milestone in the fight against climate change, it sets out plans to build a plant capable of removing 4000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per year

Icelandic power firm ON Power operates the Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant, and will supply power and heat to power the DAC process at the new plant

Zürich-based Climeworks, a firm developing direct-air capture (DAC) technology, an ambitious approach to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, has signed the agreements with both Carbfix – a firm with a proprietary approach to turning CO2 into stone underground – and ON Power, an Icelandic geothermal energy provider. Under its terms, a new plant will be built that is able to permanently remove 4000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per year, said Climeworks.

The firm also said the agreements set down an important milestone in the fight against climate change: They mark the first time the technologies have been combined for a project of this scale to remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Under the agreement with ON Power, Climeworks will build facilities within their Geothermal Park. CO2 capture will use Climeworks’ DAC technology. The geothermal power and heat provided by ON Power will provide a constant supply of renewable energy to power the DAC system.

And Climeworks’ agreement with Carbfix will seemingly ensure the safe storage of the CO2 through natural underground mineralization. The underground basaltic rock formations in Iceland provide the ideal conditions for this process, providing a permanent solution for CO2 storage.

The collaborative efforts of these agreements are particularly important as the scale-up of carbon removal is essential to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the firms suggest the continued development of these technologies could prove to be a game-changer in the fight against climate change.

Speaking about the choice of location, Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks, said: “The site in Iceland provides ideal conditions: the supply of renewable energy and a safe and natural storage space for our air-captured carbon dioxide.” He added: “All partners have developed pioneering solutions and are experts in their field. We are proud, together with our partners, to bring the permanent and safe removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the next level.”

Edda Sif Pind Aradóttir, CEO of Carbfix, said: “The combination of the proprietary Carbfix and Climeworks technologies marks a turning point in climate action, allowing us to permanently capture CO2 already emitted to the atmosphere and rapidly turn [it] into stone underground. Through continued up-scaling of these technologies a climate disaster can be avoided while at the same time establishing a new industrial pillar for the global economy. This agreement between Climeworks, ON and Carbfix marks an important milestone towards that goal.”

Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir, CEO of ON Power, said: “The ON Geothermal Park is a venue for companies utilizing the resources of the Hellisheiði Power Plant in a responsible and sustainable manner to create value and promote innovation in the field of geothermal operations. This agreement takes us a big step closer to realizing that vision. The collaboration between ON, Carbfix and Climeworks showcases how innovative projects can come together to create and scale-up one of the solutions to global warming.”