Swiss Re funded Climeworks Launches Massive Direct Air Capture Plant in Iceland
Fresh off its a recent $650 million capital raise including funding from Swiss Re, Zurich-based Direct Air Capture (DAC) startup Climeworks announced the groundbreaking on “Mammoth,” its largest DAC and storage plant.
With anticipated CO2 capture capacity of 36,000 tonnes per year when fully operational, the plant will be an order of magnitude larger than Climework’s current flagship facility, Orca, already the largest DAC facility in the world at 4,000 tonnes capacity. Construction on the new site is anticipated to last 18-24 months until operations at the facility begin.
DAC technology, listed by the IEA as a key carbon removal option in the transition to a net zero energy system, extracts CO2 directly from the atmosphere for use as a raw material or permanently removed when combined with storage. According to the landmark IPCC climate change mitigation study released earlier this year, scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C include carbon dioxide removal methods scaling to billions of tons of removal annually over the coming decades, with DAC positioned to potentially account for a significant portion of the total.
Founded in 2009 by Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher, Climeworks has emerged as the leading DAC provider, with Mammoth representing its 18th project to date. Climeworks’ direct air capture machines are powered solely by renewable energy or energy-from-waste. The machines consist of modular carbon dioxide collectors, that draw in air with fans and capture CO2 on the surface of a highly selective filter material, and extracts the high-purity, high-concentration carbon dioxide.
Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks, said:
“Today is a very important day for Climeworks and for the industry as construction begins on our newest, large-scale direct air capture and storage plant. With Mammoth, we can leverage our ability to quickly multiply our modular technology and significantly scale our operations.”
Both of the company’s commercial scale plants are based in Iceland, and feature collaborations with Icelandic companies, including Carbfix, which provides permanent underground CO2 storage, and ON Power, which will supply renewable energy to Mammoth from its Hellisheiði geothermal electricity plant to power the entire direct air capture and storage process.
Climeworks stated that it aims to scale up its CO2 capture capacity to multi-megatons by 2030, and to reach gigaton scale by 2050.
Christoph Gebald, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks, said:
“Based on most successful scale-up curves, reaching gigaton by 2050 means delivering at multi-megaton scale by 2030. Nobody has ever built what we are building in DAC, and we are both humble and realistic that the most certain way to be successful is to run the technology in the real world as fast as possible. Our fast deployment cycles will enable us to have the most robust operations at multi-megaton scale.”