‘Mammoth’ direct air capture facility under construction in Iceland
Image credit: climeworks
Swiss firm Climeworks has started building its largest direct air capture and storage facility, called Mammoth, in a remote area of Iceland.
With a nominal carbon capture capacity of 36,000 tons per year when fully operational, Mammoth represents a significant step in Climeworks’ plan to scale up its operations to deliver gigaton capture capacity by 2050. Construction is expected to last 18-24 months before operations start.
The firm’s first direct air capture plant, which it claims is 1,000 times more efficient than photosynthesis, was built in Switzerland and went live in 2017.
It has previously sold its services to the likes of Shopify which used the carbon captured by its facilities to offset its own emissions.
Climeworks said the Mammoth plant will capitalise on rising market demand, with several 10-year offtake agreements signed over the last months.
After recently raising $650m from investors, the firm is focused on rapidly scaling-up capacity on the market. It will concentrate on implementing large modular direct air capture and storage facilities and investing in technological development.
Mammoth is Climeworks’ eighteenth project and its second commercial direct air capture and storage plant. It is an order of magnitude larger than Orca, its previous carbon capture plant which was opened in September.
The UK recently announced its first carbon storage licensing round in what was hailed as an “important day on the path to net zero”.
However, the technology has attracted criticism from climate campaigners who say it is being used by high-carbon industries to 'greenwash' their operations.
Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder of Climeworks, said: “With Mammoth, we can leverage our ability to quickly multiply our modular technology and significantly scale our operations. We are building the foundation for a climate-relevant gigaton-scale capacity and we are starting deployment now to remain on track for this.”
Carbfix, Climeworks’ CO₂ storage partner, will provide the permanent underground storage of carbon dioxide. The Hellisheiði electricity power plant operated by ON Power will supply Climeworks’ Mammoth plant and the Carbfix CO₂ injection sites with renewable energy to run the entire direct air capture and storage process.
Christoph Gebald, co-founder of Climeworks, said: “Based on most successful scale-up curves, reaching gigaton by 2050 means delivering at multi-megaton scale by 2030. Nobody has ever built what we are building in DAC and we are both humble and realistic that the most certain way to be successful is to run the technology in the real world as fast as possible. Our fast deployment cycles will enable us to have the most robust operations at multi-megaton scale.”
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