Climeworks begins operation of Orca

Sep 09 2021


The world’s first and largest direct air capture and storage plant has begun operation capturing 4,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Orca delivers permanent, metered carbon dioxide removal and sets the precedent for a high-quality, verifiable carbon removal market by being the first direct air capture and storage service with a validated process - awarded mid-June 2021 by independent third-party DNV.

ON Power, the Icelandic geothermal energy provider, supplies clean renewable energy to power the Orca plant. Partners Carbfix, experts in rapid underground mineralization mix the air-captured CO2 with water and pump it deep underground, where it is trapped in stone through a natural mineralization process that takes under two years.

 

(Image: ©Climeworks)

 

Christoph Gebald, co-CEO and co-founder of Climeworks, said, "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.’’  

The construction of Orca started in May 2020 and is based on modular technology in the form of innovative stackable container-size collector units. These units are powerful and compact with minimal physical footprint. This has made it possible for Orca to be operational in under 15 months. Compared to the previous technology generation, the use of steel in the collector units has roughly been reduced by half per output unit.

Orca also supports the expansion of Climeworks, as 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.

Orca is the first-of-its-kind plant that translates the vision of industrial-scale direct air capture and storage into reality. Climeworks has been able to intensify the process leading to increased CO2 capture capacity per module. This optimized process means that more carbon dioxide can be captured and stored than before. 

This innovation in plant design is a key enabler to rapidly scale up the technology in the years to come. Since Orca is now a reality and in operation, Climeworks is on track to ramp up its capture capacity significantly – as will be required in light of the strong market demand as shown through long-term partnerships with, among others, Microsoft, Swiss Re, Shopify and commitments from over 8,000 private individuals. 

Jan Wurzbacher, co-CEO and co-founder of Climeworks, said, ”Orca, as a milestone in the direct air capture industry, has provided a scalable, flexible and replicable blueprint for Climeworks’ future expansion. 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.’’

Climeworks Orca
CarbFix


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Issue 82 - July - Aug 2021

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