The First Commercial Carbon Removal Plant Just Opened In Iceland
“Every ton which is captured from this plant is one that is immediately not contributing to global warming,” says Julie Gosalvez, chief marketing officer at Climeworks, the company that built the new plant, called Orca, which is an expansion of a pilot plant at the same location.
One catch is volume. Orca will capture 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, out of around 35bn tonnes produced by burning fossil fuels. Climeworks is “confident” it can reach millions of tonnes before the decade is out.
Another is cost. It costs Orca somewhere between $600-800 to sequester one tonne of carbon dioxide, and the firm sells offset packages online for around $1,200 per tonne. The company thinks it can cut costs ten-fold through economies of scale. But there appears to be no shortage of customers willing to pay the current, elevated price. Even as Orca’s fans revved up, roughly two-thirds of its lifetime offering of carbon removals had already been sold. Clients include corporations seeking to offset a portion of their emissions, such as Microsoft, Swiss Re (and The Economist), as well as over 8,000 private individuals.