Microsoft Expands Carbon Removal with Climeworks Direct Air Capture System

Direct Air Capture Carbon Removal

(Credit: Climeworks)

by | Jul 14, 2022

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Direct Air Capture Carbon Removal

(Credit: Climeworks)

Microsoft has signed a 10-year agreement with Climeworks to use direct air capture to remove 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The deal is one of the largest direct air capture (DAC) agreements to date, according to the companies, and Climeworks also says it is Microsoft’s first long-term carbon removal supplier. The 10,000 tons of carbon will be removed using Climework’s DAC platform at its plant in Iceland. The system takes the captured carbon and stores it in the ground or can upcycle it into materials such as carbon-neutral fuels and materials.

The DAC effort is part of Microsoft’s overall target of being carbon negative by 2030 and removing all of its historic emissions by 2050. Microsoft first announced those goals two years ago and currently has contracted 21 carbon removal projects around the world and has another 106 proposed projects. The tech company says it has contracted to remove 2.5 million metric tons of carbon since the start of 2021.

Financial details of the Microsoft carbon capture purchase with Climeworks were not disclosed. In March Microsoft said it had allocated $471 million toward its $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund, which is intended to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies, among other sustainability initiatives.

“Long-term commitments like this multi-year agreement are crucial for scaling the DAC industry because the guaranteed demand catalyzes financing of our infrastructure and consequently accelerates the development of the required ecosystem for scaling DAC”, says Christoph Gebald, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates an average of 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide needs to be removed each year in order to reach international climate goals by 2050. The International Energy Agency says there are currently 19 DAC plants operating worldwide.

Earlier this year Microsoft, Alphabet, and Salesforce committed $500 million toward carbon removal. Alphabet also joined Stripe, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey Sustainability by investing $925 million to purchase carbon removal and advance new technologies for the process.

Climeworks’ Orca DAC plant has the capacity to remove 4,000 metric tons of carbon from the air each year. The company is building a larger facility that will have the capacity to remove 36,000 metric tons of emissions annually. That facility is called Mammoth and is expected to be completed by 2024.

In August 2021 Climeworks and Swiss Re signed a 10-year carbon removal purchase agreement worth $10 million. Microsoft previously purchased 1,400 metric tons of carbon removal from Climeworks in January 2021.

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