Running Tide Shuts Down Citing Lack Of Demand From The Voluntary Market

Running Tide Delivers First Carbon Credits From The Open Ocean - Carbon Herald

In a post on social media, ocean carbon removal company Running Tide announced that it will be ceasing its operations. Founded in 2017 the company had raised over $50 million from investors for its initial approach to utilize macro algae for carbon sequestration but later pivoted to sinking wood biomass.

CEO Marty Odlin shared in an interview with the Portland Press Herald that the reason for the decision to shut down was the lack of demand for the company’s credits on the voluntary carbon markets: “We built incredible technologies, but the voluntary carbon market just got a lot smaller in the last nine months. We were building this for a growing market and all of a sudden it was shrinking. There isn’t enough demand right now.”

Running Tide as a pioneer

As one of the first companies in the field, Running Tide had reached a mature stage in the last several years. It was among the few that had started removing carbon dioxide (25,000 tons of CO2 equivalent last year) and had delivered credits (appr. 21,000).

Apart from companies working on direct air capture, and recently the burgeoning biochar industry, this gave Running Tide one of the top spots in the broader carbon removal space in terms of deliveries. Progress was also reflected in the hiring of over 100 employees at one point with offices in Portland, Maine and Iceland.

The company always had a science-first approach and was working with a large number of academic partners. It even made public its framework protocol for open ocean carbon removal, which will undoubtedly help other companies that will now pick up the mantle.

Relevant: Running Tide Publishes Framework Protocol For Open Ocean Carbon Removal

The commercial side was also impressive despite ultimately proving insufficient to maintain operations. The company had 25 enterprise customers, with names like Microsoft and Shopify among those inking offtake agreements.

The quality of the credits was also addressed by a partnership with Deloitte, which was split into reviews of projects proposals and environmental impact assessment, followed by ISO certification.

Competition and critics

The news will likely act as a reality check on the ocean carbon removal space, which has seen over a dozen companies appear in the last several years, with names like Planetary Technologies (founded in 2018), Captura (2021) and Ebb Carbon (2021) attracting interest and investment.

Ocean carbon removal also has a number of detractors from the scientific community, with some warning that the technologies are not ready for deployment at scale. A paper authored by a team of ocean specialists from eight countries and under the leadership of professor Lisa Levin from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, claims ocean-based climate interventions, or OBCIs, are very likely to have major consequences for entire ecosystems, due to the vast scale required for them to be effective.

Regardless of these opinions Running Tide’s approach to scientific rigour and credibility will hopefully remain as one of the building blocks of a growing and impactful ocean carbon removal industry.

Read more: Top 10 Ocean Carbon Removal Companies In 2023

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