The world’s so-far largest direct-air carbon capture plant is now up and running. A company called Climeworks has officially begun its operations at Orca, which is a plant in Iceland that extracts CO2 from the air and stores it underground. The gases are stored using a solution known as ‘Carbfix’ that mixes gaseous CO2 with water to trap it in stone. The facility will capture 4,000 tons of CO2 per year to permanently remove it from the environment.
A carbon offset isn’t cheap. In fact, it can cost a company $600 a ton, and that includes a bulk discount. Climeworks is hoping to shrink the cost to $300 or less per ton by 2030.
Orca represents a huge milestone for actively removing humanity’s carbon footprint. Regardless of the scale of this operation, this is definitely something to be proud of. The 4,000 tons of CO2 that this facility can capture is equal to around 250 US residents. Sure, it’s a small start, but this is only the beginning. Climeworks’ plans on capturing 300 million tons (1 percent of the world’s emissions) by 2025.
Demand for carbon removal is obviously very high. So, this company is planning on expanding its Orca facility tenfold over the next 3 years. Lower carbon reduction prices will be a huge factor in accelerating the adoption of this services and ones like it. While carbon credits are no replacement for actually reducing carbon output, it does help mitigate short term impacts.