Climeworks Launches Largest Direct Air Capture & Storage Plant

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), carbon capture and storage (CCS) could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 19%. The IEA estimates that fighting climate change could cost 70% more without CCS. To address the potential of CSS, Iceland’s Climeworks launched Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant, which claims to permanently remove CO2 from the air, on September 8th.

    ”Orca, as a milestone in the direct air capture industry, has provided a scalable, flexible and replicable blueprint for Climeworks’ future expansion,’ says Jan Wurzbacher (Pictured, left), co-CEO and co-founder of Climeworks. ”With this success, we are prepared to rapidly ramp up our capacity in the next years. Achieving global net-zero emissions is still a long way to go, but with Orca, we believe that Climeworks has taken one significant step closer to achieving that goal.’’

    Orca expects to capture 4,000 tons of CO2 per year. To put that into perspective, Iceland emitted 3.32 million tons of CO2 in 2019, according to Global Carbon Project data. That’s the equivalent to approximately 9.3 tons of CO2 emissions per capita for the country in that year. The amount of CO2 emissions expected to be captured annually by the Orca projects is approximately the equivalent of the average annual emissions of 430 Icelanders in 2019.

    The project combines Climeworks’ direct air capture technology with Carbfix’s underground storage of carbon dioxide. Climeworks is a Swiss private company based in Zurich, funded by the Swiss Entrepreneurs Foundation, Zürcher Kantonal Bank and Venture Kick, a private, philanthropic initiative that provides pre-seed funding to entrepreneurs from Swiss universities.

    Carbfix is a joint research project of OR, the University of Iceland, France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Columbia University in the USA, with funding from the EU and the USA’s federal government – is a contribution to international CCS research. NordSIP last heard about this project when we spoke to Ingvar Stefánsson (pictured), CFO at Reykjavik Energy (OR), Iceland’s largest energy provider, at a 2019 event.

    “Prior to OR’s project the consensus was that the mineralisation could take as long as hundreds of years, but the formation of stable types of rock from the combination of basalt mineral and gases takes place within just two years with our process,” OR’s CFO, told us at the time.

    The construction of Orca started in May 2020 and is based on advanced modular technology in the form of innovative stackable container-size collector units, with minimal physical footprint. According to the company,  the technology can easily be replicated at different locations worldwide and on ever larger scales, in a flexible manner wherever ample renewable energy and storage conditions are available. Strategically located adjacent to ON Power’s Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant, Orca runs fully on renewable energy.

    “We are proud, excited, and beyond delighted to have arrived at this stage in our journey to reverse climate change. Orca is now a reality and it is a result of concerted efforts from every stakeholder involved. I want to take this opportunity to convey my gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Iceland, our partners in Iceland, our trusted investors, our corporate clients and pioneers, partners, the media, and our team of Climeworkers in making Orca a reality,’’ concludes Christoph Gebald (Pictured, right), co-CEO and co-founder of Climeworks.

    Image courtesy of Climeworks

    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.

    Latest Posts

    Partner content


    NordSIP Insights Handbook

    What else is new?