Climeworks’ Carbon Removal Summit Marks A New Phase For Direct Air Capture

Climeworks' Carbon Removal Summit Marks A New Phase For Direct Air Capture - Carbon Herald
Image: Climeworks LinkedIn

Sporting a new name, the annual Climeworks Carbon Removal summit this year saw the unveiling of a cheaper and more energy-efficient generation of direct air capture technology, while highlightin obstables and progress on the policy front.

The need reduce emissions while developing both natural and engineered solutions was a recurring theme, with attendees also highlighted the positive impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, the DAC Hubs program and the recent adoption of the EU Carbon Removal Certification Framework.

Carbon Removal Summit

The event was previously named the “Direct Air Capture Summit” but the shift to the broader “carbon removal” description reflects the growing number of approaches – both nature-based and technological – that now constitute the space and are vying for investment and the attention of buyers.

It’s also in sync with the proliferation of events focused on carbon removal. Carbon Unbound is only in its second year but has splintered into multiple U.S. and European events, Carbonfuture hosted its own summit yesterday and the DAC Coalition also hosting its own summit but will likely remain focused on that particular technology.

Key takeaways

The main announcement at the event was Generation 3 of the Climeworks technology. It uses a new set of sorbent materials that consume 50% less energy compared to the prior materials and are designed to last three times longer.

Generation 3 technology will remove carbon for a total cost of $400-$600 per ton by 2030, another 50% decrease compared to previously shared prices. This reaffirms the leading position of Climeworks in the space and moves it closer to megaton scale, while setting a clearer path to the holy grail of $100 which many experts feel will allow for gigaton scale.

Relevant: Climeworks Reveals Its Generation 3 Direct Air Capture Technology

Panelists at the Climeworks Carbon Removal Summit also discussed the role of corporate buyers and their crucial role in maintaining demand in the short and mid-term, but agreed that public procurement will very likely have the most crucial role to play in the long-term.

Douglas Chan, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager for the U.S. at Climeworks echoed this sentiment in a conversation with Carbon Herald: “The voluntary carbon market is still where everyone in direct air capture is really generating their revenues from, and they’re offtaking their sales from companies that have made their net zero pledges. [But] I think a lot of us within the carbon removal space feel that, should we get to that gigaton scale, we’re going to need public procurement. We’re going to need governments and international support to continue to scale […] The VCM will only take us so far.”

Climeworks Announces New Headquarters In The US - Carbon Herald
Climeworks’ Chief Project Development Officer Daniel Nathan and Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of U.S. Douglas Chan pictured in Climeworks’ HQ in Austin, Texas. Credit: Climeworks

Bankability challenge

And while public policy support and technological challenges around efficiency, materials and costs are the main themes at the moment, Mr. Chan feels there is another critical aspect: “What scares me for the industry in general is the two sides of the equation – technology risk and market risk. And DAC is really unique in that sense. [In other] indsutries you just deal with technology risk, right?

With our Gen 3 technology, I’m feeling really confident that we can solve the technology equation and the cost equation. The flip side, the market risk is what scares me. If you look at how big projects are deployed and funded, many traditional infrastructure investors want to see guaranteed offtake of 50% of lifetime volumes, to be then willing to give you project financing.

That’s that keeps me up at night, getting that market demand from the voluntary carbon market, from public procurement, whatever that may be, that then makes all of the direct air capture projects really fundable and bankable.”

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