by Marcus Lima, Heimdal co-founder and CEO
At Heimdal, we’re developing cutting edge technology for removing atmospheric CO2 that is designed to scale. Too often Direct Air Capture (DAC) companies can be rightly accused of loud talk and little action. Our thesis for meaningful DAC is to think big first, work backwards and then act on it. Anything that happens at the current small scale is effectively meaningless measured against the scale of the 40 billion tonnes of CO2 being emitted every year. Our raison d’etre is to maximize the net tonnes of CO2 we remove from the atmosphere at gigatonne scale, as fast as possible.
Oil & gas companies are rightfully criticized for being a main driving force behind anthropogenic climate change and for their decades long past efforts to undermine climate science. These companies are making billions in profits from planetary-scale market failure that does not yet accurately put a price on the environmental harm from the products that they sell.
Many, us at Heimdal included, would rather not see the people and companies that have benefitted from this market failure, also benefit from what needs to be a planetwide clean-up of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Righteous criticism of the industry, while fair, is not productive for us. This is no longer an issue of morals, it’s an issue of market failure. However, the Inflation Reduction Act in the US has effectively corrected this market failure in a jurisdiction for the first time. We are in a new world where carbon has a price, and our incentives are aligned with oil, gas, and every other company and person out there to extract CO2 from the atmosphere at gigatonne scale as quickly as possible.
With our mission of maximizing the net tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere as our guiding principle, we believe responsible collaboration with oil & gas companies is the smart thing to do. ‘Collaborating with’ and ‘holding to account’ should not be mutually exclusive. There are two key benefits of responsible collaboration, as we see it.
First, oil & gas companies can bring critical expertise and services to the burgeoning DAC industry. No industry is as skilled at building enormously complex industrial projects. It’s going to take the experience with scale of the very people and companies that managed to create the scale of this problem. Let’s not reinvent the wheel here. We need people from that industry to work with us to think and act big on carbon removal.
Second, the geological and technological knowledge and expertise to move and sequester carbon dioxide already exists. Oil and gas companies have been doing it for decades. As a DAC company we’re very good at removing CO2 from the atmosphere, but we don’t know a fraction of what oil and gas companies do about transporting and storing it.
As part of this responsible collaboration, we commit to never having our operations lead to a net increase in the unabated burning of fossil fuels.
However, we will use the infrastructure, expertise and resources of the industry and its people to effectively manage the world’s carbon quicker. Bearing in mind our guiding principle, the irresponsible thing would be for us to not make this transition as rapidly as possible because of a dogmatic approach to the baddies of the previous century.
In the coming months we will make announcements on our progress to date and plans for real action. Scaling our operations to thousands of tonnes of carbon removal per year.