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World’s Largest Carbon-Sucking Plant Starts Making Tiny Dent in Emissions
A new container-like structure has risen alongside plumes of steam near the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland. The facility will suck carbon out of the air and pump it deep into the ground, turning it into stone.
How does it work?
“The Orca plant draws in large amounts of air with huge fans, bringing the air in contact with chemicals that can selectively remove CO₂ while releasing nitrogen, oxygen and other gases back into the atmosphere. The carbon-rich chemicals are then heated to about 100°C to release CO₂ as a pure gas. Carbfix mixes the gas with water and injects it deep into basaltic rock. The dissolved CO₂ crystallizes into a mineral in about two years, permanently storing it away. The energy for all those steps comes from the Hellisheidi geothermal plant.”
The plant is expected to capture 4,000 tonnes of carbon a year, which makes it the largest direct-air capture facility in the world. However, this is still very small as it “only makes up for the annual emissions of about 250 U.S. residents.”
There is increasing demand for these types of innovative technologies from companies and governments to stop global warming; however, activists argue that focusing too much on these carbon-capture technologies could be a distraction from the work of immediately reducing emissions. In addition, today this technology is still very new and the costs are very high. “Individuals wanting to purchase carbon offsets can pay the company up to $1,200 per ton of CO2.” Even though Climeworks aims to decrease the costs to $200 to $300 a ton by 2030, companies and governments need to prioritize reduction efforts.
Solar Needs to Quadruple for U.S. to Have Carbon-Free Grid
A new study released by the US Energy Department states that the US needs to quadruple its amount of solar energy it installs by 2035 if it wants to decarbonize the power grid. The study states that solar energy could power 40% of the US’s electricity and generate as many as 1.5 million jobs by 2035. However, the new administration has not set a new goal for solar power.
“The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S.,” Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement.
Delicious and abundant: yes, we're talking about voluntary carbon markets
The demand for voluntary carbon offsets has experienced a sharp uptake since 2019 as a result of the growing number of private entities that have started to operationalize their net-zero pledges and seek to neutralize their emissions. “The Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM) predicts this will grow exponentially in the coming years, so it is focusing on building robust "plumbing" for trading to scale.” Even though the priority remains to reduce emissions as much as possible, offsets can play an important role in this transition phase and serve as an important funding mechanism to protect natural capital.
“Rather than criticizing voluntary carbon markets on their potential for abuse or deferring focus on true abatement, we need to support the process of building integrity across the entire voluntary carbon market supply and use chain: supply-side, demand-side, and for intermediaries; from offset creation to aggregation to trading and retirement.”
What is becoming clear is that we need to build a robust, ethical carbon offset market at scale to support a sustained transition to net-zero.