Largest direct air capture facility opens in Iceland
Startup Climeworks said September 8 operations had begun at its Orca facility in Iceland, which it calls the largest direct air carbon capture facility in the world.
Climeworks said the facility can capture 4,000 metric tons/yr of CO2. Now in service, the company said Orca proves the technology can be a viable solution to climate change.
“Every ton of carbon dioxide removed from the air by Orca is a ton immediately not contributing to global warming,” it said.
Operations commenced less than a year and a half after construction started. Located near a geothermal power plant in Iceland, the facility runs entirely on renewable energy.
Some of the emerging processes mimic natural ways to pull CO2 out of the air, utilising a series of chemical reactions and filtration to extract the greenhouse gas and release carbon-free air back into the atmosphere. At Orca, Icelandic company Carbix will permanently store the captured CO2 underground.
“The plant is a steppingstone for Climeworks’ expansion on route to megaton removal capacity by the second part of this decade, based on our leading and most scalable direct air capture technology,” the startup said.
Canada’s Carbon Engineering is developing direct air capture (DAC) technology scaled to remove 1mn mt/yr of CO2 from the atmosphere. Its first commercial plant will be built in the Permian basin, and it’s exploring other locations, including Scotland, where it is working with Storegga Geotechnologies to develop a similarly-sized installation.
Direct air carbon capture is an emerging technology in the energy transition. The US Department of Energy said August 17 it was backing research into DAC with $24mn in funding, and energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said later that finding ways to pull carbon directly from the atmosphere “is an absolute necessity in our fight against the climate crisis.”
Granholm’s sentiment mirrored that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found carbon capture technology is necessary to counter the impacts of climate change.