The carbon dioxide removal (CDR) space is growing quickly and so are the projects and approaches, both natural and tech-based, tackling the excess CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. AlliedOffsets is a London-based data and research company that has just released its CDR report walking people through the essentials of the carbon removal industry.
The free report comprises a summary of over 500 carbon removal projects and offers a global overview of the industry. The data is a summary of The AlliedOffsets Premium Dashboard which contains the world’s largest data source on carbon offsetting projects and prices.
“We at AlliedOffsets created our CDR report as an entry point to the CDR market to anyone that is interested in the space, explaining the key technologies, scalability issues and snapshot of R&D efforts. Our mission at AlliedOffsets is to bring transparency to the carbon markets and we are achieving this goal by publicly showing our aggregated findings,” commented Soren Vines, author of the report and CDR Analyst at AlliedOffsets who also shared for Carbon Herald some additional details on the carbon removal approaches.
Some of the information on the projects that is highlighted includes their scale, scope, geographical distribution and insights into corporate buyers. An intro and overview are given to five of the most scalable CDR tech solutions which are biochar, direct air capture (DAC), BECCS, ocean alkalinity enhancement and enhanced rock weathering.
For each CDR approach, some critical information is provided such as the number of projects globally, an average credit price, potential sequestration potential when the solution reaches widespread deployment and other. The data is sourced from carbon marketplaces, CDR.fyi, and registries.
Biochar – the first CDR approach mentioned in the report, offers a sequestration potential of 1.8 – 4.8 GtCO2/y and has over 60 industrial uses, most notably as a soil amendment and water filter. The average price for a ton of CO2 removed comes at $250. However, as Mr Vines explained, many project developers are still selling biochar credits for below $100.
The projects standing in the higher price range imply an increased level of trust and higher durability of the stored CO2. They also imply the fact that the biochar has been implemented into the ground properly for the purpose of sequestration rather than for other applications. Such projects that also possess certifications for quality are more often seen in the price range for a credit of between $130 – $250.
Direct air capture is one of the most popular tech-based carbon removal methods. It is supported by government support in the US, and an increasing number of projects are also appearing thanks to accelerators like Deep Science Ventures that work with scientists to build companies.
The price of the DAC credits also varies between $300 and above $1000 and is often cited as the largest barrier to entry for this type of technology. Energy requirements are also high for some of the early projects as they might take up to 10 GJ to capture 1tCO2.
Ocean alkalinity enhancement is another approach that is looked at under the microscope. As Mr Vines also highlighted, it is one of the most exciting and interesting carbon removal methods. It has the potential to sequester between 1 and 15 gigatons of CO2 per year.
Theoretically, people can sequester many more gigatons, higher than 15 annually thanks to the ever-existing equilibrium between the air and ocean. However, ocean alkalinity enhancement is currently done in small-scale demonstration trials and tests. More research is needed into the approach before it can reach widespread deployment.
For carbon mineralization – a method often involving capturing CO2 with DAC technology and sequestering it under the ground in a way for the emissions to mineralize in a solid form in a couple of years, the price of $30 per ton sequestered could be found available on the market.
The report also analyzes the applications received by Frontier – the advanced market commitment that supports early-stage carbon removal projects. Frontier accepts applications from CDR startups for its cohorts every 6 months. The successful projects are supported with pre-purchase agreements designed to help those solutions move forward and overcome some barriers like high prices at the initial stage of development.
According to the report’s findings, around 23% of applications are successful with an average cohort size of 25 applicants out of the 5 cohorts. The most common successful technologies are direct air capture and enhanced weathering which comprise 34% and 30% of total successful applicants respectively.
As the report concludes, we need to remove a vast amount of CO2 from the atmosphere around 19-23 GtCO2/year after 2030 to reach the most optimistic projection for 2100 of 1.8 degrees of warming. We will also have to start removing between 23-27 GtCO2 every year after 2030 to hit the 1.5 target set by the IPCC.
Emissions reductions and carbon removal approaches go hand in hand when we aim to accelerate climate action and decarbonize the economy. The world is currently nowhere near the levels needed for both emission reduction and methods removing historic carbon from the atmosphere. Urgent action and implementation of currently available approaches for decarbonization are pillars to ease the pressure on the environment and people and help us scale necessary net-zero technologies.