One of the few things that has given me hope about our ability to avoid climate disaster is reading about companies that are capturing carbon from the air and finding ways to monetize it.
Are there limitations to our ability to do this? Is there a reason why this couldn’t become a rapidly expanding industry in the next decade or so?
This is a really insightful opinion piece from the guys over at fivethirtyeight on the science behind CCS & the significant challenges the industry faces.
Just last year, a special IPCC report on keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius found that some kind of carbon capture technology would be essentially required to maintain any hope of hitting that goal.
But despite that, and despite the way several other climate and energy-related industries have grown over the last decade, carbon capture and storage is still more of a gamble than a clear success story.
Will it become a critical part of our fight against climate change (the technology seems ready to go) or, with the combination of solar, wind, electric vehicles, advanced batteries, liquid biofuels and other new technologies, does it even matter whether CCS ever becomes cheap?
The clean technology market is a fascinating place right now, with so more and more companies developing unique technologies with the backing of investors willing to think about bigger, longer-term bets - I certainly wouldn't rule out CCS solving it's market problems.
Hyperion Executive Search builds teams for the most innovative cleantech companies, enabling the best businesses to find extraordinary people.
So generally speaking, the technology of carbon capture is ready to go. The problem with CCS is that it doesn’t really have a destination, said Dan Lashof, U.S. director of the nonprofit World Resources Institute. Other climate-adjacent industries, such as electric vehicles and solar have grown rapidly in the past decade. But Lashof pointed out the other industries offer benefits outside of their climate impact. “Solar is generating electricity you can sell. Electric cars are really fun and fast and you don’t have to go to the gas station. There’s a market for that independent of climate benefits,” he said.