Climeworks’ Direct Air Capture Summit 2021 – Inspiration for the future

This article is part of our series on carbon capture and storage technologies.

On September 14th and 15th, Swiss carbon capture company Climeworks organized the second Direct Air Capture Summit as a hybrid event with an initial streamed kick-off event on Tuesday and a full afternoon conference on Wednesday, both live streamed and for in-person attendance at Stage One event location in Zurich, Switzerland. For me, this marks the first industry event I attended since the start of the Covid pandemic. About 200 participants on site and up to 2000 online demonstrate that the interest into the topic sky rocketed compared to last years numbers.

Moderator Hannah Wise, Peter Reinhard (CEO of Charm Industrial) with Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher (Co-CEOs of Climeworks). Source: Climeworks

Direct air capture of CO2 or short DAC covers all technologies involving CO2 removal from the ambient air. While DAC is still expensive, the industry is growing at a fast pace, as seen with last weeks opening of the newest DAC plant from Climeworks, dubbed Orca in Iceland. While actual CO2 scrubbing from the air is not yet economically viable for large scale applications such hard emissions offsetting e.g. in aviation, some of the technologies currently in development or in production might be used to produce SAFs, sustainable aviation fuels. More about SAFs and the involvement of DAC companies such as Climeworks will be covered here on NetZero.aero in a future blog post series.

Renowned Swiss climate physics researcher Prof. Dr. Reto Knutti (@Knutti_ETH on Twitter) from ETH Zurich opened the second day as a keynote speaker after a warm welcome by journalist and host Hannah Wise. Knutti gives a quick recap on where the world stands regarding global warming. He stresses the urgency to act on the climate crisis and quickly dives into why we need a net zero approach to reach any temperature target – reduction alone will simply not be enough.

Prof. Dr. Reto Knutti from ETH Zurich (Source: Climeworks)

After Reto Knutti, Prof. Dr. Tom Crowther from the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich took the stage. As an ecologist, Crowther is working on natural solutions for climate change. Crowther stated that managing ecosystems effectively is crucial if we want to fight climate change. He pointed out that if mankind is able to protect ecosystems and allow natural trees to grow, there is the potential to capture 30% of excess CO2 from the atmosphere. His research group is developing Restor, a global tool to find solutions to restoration and reforestation.

Prof. Dr. Tom Crowther from ETH Zurich (Source: Climeworks)

Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Charm Industrial (read our intro about Charm Industrial), Dr. Christoph Gebald, and Jan Wurzbacher, the two founders of Climeworks, gave an introduction into their respective negative emissions technologies. While Peter and Charm Industrial highlights their route of turning crop yield waste into safely stored bio oil, the Co-CEOs of Climeworks talk about the importance of direct air capture of CO2 and again, presents their recently launched plant in Iceland, Orca.

The market for carbon capture and removal (CCR) is growing as shown with large purchases from companies such as Microsoft, Audi, Shopify or Stripe. In a round panel discussion with Mischa Repmann from Swiss Re, Stacy Kauk from Shopify and Jens Burchardt from Boston Consulting Group, the participants explored in discussion with moderator Hannah Wise how corporate action can accelerate the growth of the carbon removal market and also facilitate technology development at the same time. Most of the companies currently active in the purchase of carbon removal solutions are sharing their findings and engaging in public discussion about it.

Oh and one last thing: Climeworks is hiring.

Disclosure: The parent company of NetZero.aero, Tiny Ventures LLC based in Zurich, Switzerland is a proud pioneer at Climeworks and purchases regular CO2 sequestration. Additionally, 1% of all revenues processed through Stripe are currently given to Stripe Climate which purchases CO2 sequestration from companies such as Climeworks, Charm Industrial and others. You can become a pioneer at Climeworks too.