Why the sudden surge in investments to carbon capture startups? MIT Technology Review digs into what’s driving the allure of companies like Prometheus.
One reason is the growing consensus among researchers that any real shot we have of solving the climate crisis is going to require a strategy for removing vast quantities of CO2 from the air.
Two more reasons: tech innovations that have made CO2 removal dramatically cheaper and political support via tax credits. Such advances have catapulted carbon removal plays from a quixotic quest, whose noble endgame would never be more than a marketplace externality, to a legit business model with the potential to generate head-turning profits.
As a result, carbon capture startups have better answers to three “tricky questions” that, according to MIT Tech Review, have, until now, kept us trapped at the starting gate. No longer.
Here are our answers to those formerly “tricky questions”:
MIT TECH REVIEW: How cheap can the process [of direct air capture] eventually get?
PROMETHEUS: We’ve got a path to push the price of zero net carbon gasoline down below $2.00 per gallon (average U.S. retail).
MIT TECH REVIEW: What kinds of businesses can startups build around the ventures?
PROMETHEUS: We’re using the CO2 we remove from the air to make zero net carbon gasoline, diesel and jet fuel at a scale and price that can replace fossil fuels while turning a profit.
MIT TECH REVIEW: Will there ever be big enough markets for all the carbon dioxide we’d need to capture to meaningfully reduce climate risks?
PROMETHEUS: Replacing all oil and gas with our zero net carbon versions would knock out 18 gigatons of new carbon dioxide that we currently pump into the earth’s atmosphere every year. That’s 45 percent of total global CO2 emissions [source: International Energy Agency]. How meaningful would that be in solving the climate crisis? According to the IPCC, if all we did by 2030 was reduce CO2 emissions by that amount, it could help make sure we stay below a 1.5°C rise in warming. As for potential profits, transportation fuels alone are a $2 trillion market [source: IEA, January 2020].
Read more at MIT Technology Review.