An overarching theme of the recent IPCC report is that despite the many signs that climate change is a severe threat to the underpinnings of human civilization, we are still well on our way to extreme warming scenarios.
New coal mining projects continue to receive funding across the world (mostly in China), while in Europe, activists are going to court to keep methane gas from receiving an official “green” stamp of approval on the continent. India is grappling with increasing energy from gas and coal while trying to cope with the heat it entails.
One upshot of this ominous reality is that we will need every tool in our toolkit to take carbon out of the atmosphere while simultaneously reducing emissions. This week we look at some of the snags that engineered carbon sequestration are running into as the rubber meets the road.
States in the US are struggling to regulate the growing carbon sequestration industry, which is aimed at achieving the Biden administration's goal of achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century. While companies hope to inject carbon dioxide captured from various sources underground, who owns the pore space, who pays for remediation in case of issues and what happens to oil and gas producers looking to extract oil or gas on the same land are a few legal issues that remain unsolved.
Take Texas for example. Oil and gas companies are one of the main proponents of carbon capture, but quirks in Texas laws mean that oil and gas extraction conflicts with the realities of capturing and storing carbon.
Texas land rights distinguish between the right to use the surface from the right to extract minerals below. In the past that allowed oil companies to drink the milkshake of farmers and ranchers, but it’s complicating carbon capture.
Injecting carbon dioxide into underground wells can create carbonic acid when it interacts with salt water deep underground. That acid can then corrode and create holes in oil wells, leading to crippling losses for prospectors. The issue can be avoided by using the right equipment, but those tools are often too expensive for smaller oil extractors.
Since carbon is injected from the surface into the ground, it’s unclear whether carbon injection corresponds to a surface right or a mineral right, setting up unprecedented legal conflicts between oil and gas extraction and the capture initiatives they are promoting to mitigate their climate impacts.
North Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming have passed laws tackling some of these issues, but in the absence of federal law to guide the industry, more of these types of wrinkles are sure to come.
The US government has committed $3.5bn in grants to fund direct air capture of carbon dioxide removal in a bid to accelerate carbon drawdown. The funding will be used to construct facilities that will capture and store the gas permanently, with the goal of ultimately taking out billions of tonnes of carbon to be extracted from the atmosphere each year.
The Department of Energy has promised to support four hubs, with $500m funding available for projects that are ready to complete procurement, construction, and operation phases. At least nine applications have been filed in the first round of funding, including projects from Climatebase companies Climeworks, Heirloom and Twelve.
Like so many other climate technologies, there are persistent challenges around reducing cost and earning profits while making sure the solution is carbon-negative overall. The cost to sequester a tonne with DAC (and not a ton, or a U.S. ton) can currently go as high as $1,000 while the DOE’s aim is to taper that down to $100.
The good news is that the biggest bottleneck for DAC companies is talent, which is where you can help! Climeworks is currently hiring for 41 jobs across Europe, the United States and even remotely. Heirloom has 13 openings based in California, and you can read more about their work in detail in our Spotlight from earlier this year. Twelve is looking to fill 20 positions, primarily in California with a few remote positions.
Check out some of the latest featured jobs below. If you don't see anything that speaks to you, you can always go to Climatebase to explore thousands of other opportunities.
"Frost Methane identifies and neutralizes concentrated sources of methane – a greenhouse gas that contributes 20% of global warming – by leveraging its proprietary technology to continuously mitigate a variety of otherwise unregulated sources such as natural vents, manure ponds and active & abandoned coal mines. Frost Methane generates revenue by selling into the carbon offset markets at 25x the ..."
"FedTech is a Deep Tech catalyst at the intersection of breakthrough technologies, entrepreneurship, and mission-driven organizations. Our commitment to unlock the benefits of technology for all is made possible via our deep relationships and collaborations that span across DoD, NASA, DoE, NIST, VA, DHS, federal labs, research institutions, universities, and corporations. We leverage our access to breakthrough technologies and entrepreneurs ..."
"Safeguarding access to water against drought and climate change ..."
"Holocene is pioneering a novel approach to direct air capture (DAC) that we believe to be a robust, scalable, and affordable route to significantly reduce atmospheric CO2 levels and directly combat climate change. Our mission lies in our namesake, the Holocene Epoch, or the last ~12,000 years of Earth’s history where our global climate and atmospheric CO2 levels were remarkably ..."
"San José Clean Energy, or SJCE, is San José’s local, not-for-profit electricity supplier operated by the City of San José. Since 2019, we have provided clean energy for residents and businesses at competitive rates, while also offering community programs, local control, and more transparency and accessibility. Our community is at the core of what we do. You’re making ..."
Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
"Compact Membrane Systems (CMS) is on a mission to save the planet. We create technology to capture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avert global warming, and transform industry into a long-term sustainable enterprise. One membrane system at a time. CMS is a high-growth, advanced materials company based in Wilmington, Delaware that offers its employees personal growth, autonomy, and the opportunity to ..."
"Isometric builds scientifically rigorous measurement and verification technology to confirm carbon removal claims are true. ..."
"At Zero, we are changing the paradigm of how homeowners plan and purchase energy upgrades for their homes. We are streamlining today’s time-intensive and often frustrating process with a self-serve experience that delivers actionable intelligence to homeowners so they can get their projects done without all the hassle. To make this happen, we have created a holistic software platform that ..."
"Floodbase was founded by Bessie Schwarz and Dr. Beth Tellman while studying as Masters students at Yale University. Both had experience working with climate vulnerable communities and saw firsthand how a lack of data directly contributed to inequity and financial ruin in the face of climate change. At Yale, they built the first iteration of Floodbase as a side project ..."
"Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. is a research and consulting firm specializing in economic and policy research, modeling, and analysis to provide energy sector and climate solutions. Our work supports a broad range of public interest clients, including consumer advocates, environmental organizations, regulatory commissions, and state and federal agencies. Synapse produces expert reports and data analysis for these clients and represents ..."
"Heirloom is on a mission to restore balance to our atmosphere. We are removing 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2035, using natural processes to engineer the world's most cost-effective Direct Air Capture solution. Naturally occurring minerals - alongside forests, soils, and the ocean - are one of our planet's most vital carbon sinks. Over geological timescales, carbon dioxide ..."
"Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “Drawdown”— the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. Since the 2017 publication of the New York Times bestseller, Drawdown, the organization has emerged as a leading resource for information and insight about ..."
"Afresh is on a mission to reduce food waste and increase access to nutritious food globally by transforming the fresh food supply chain. Our AI-powered solutions optimize the multi-trillion-dollar grocery industry's food ordering, production, and merchandising processes. We built the first platform capable of handling all of Fresh food’s complexities. We are relentlessly focused on helping grocers reduce waste, increase profitability, ..."
"Kaluza is the intelligent energy platform enabling the world’s largest energy companies to lead the way in the energy transition. From revolutionising energy retail operations to smart electric vehicle charging, our software is empowering energy suppliers to deliver market-leading experiences for their customers and drive decarbonisation. Launching in 2019, we’ve grown rapidly to over 400 employees across the UK, Portugal and ..."
"We are designing waste out of the human experience. Pela has been around for over 10 years and has helped over 1 million customers make the switch to more eco-friendly products. Pela is famous for being the creators of the world's first compostable phone case, Apple watch strap + AirPods case, and has now launched our flagship smart waste product ..."
"MCE is a not-for-profit public agency that has set the standard for clean energy in our communities since 2010. We offer more renewable power at stable rates, significantly reducing energy-related greenhouse emissions and reinvesting millions of dollars in local energy programs. MCE provides electricity service and cutting-edge energy programs to more than one million residents and businesses in 37 member ..."
"Blue Whale Materials is an American recycling company working toward a greener and more sustainable global battery supply chain. It is building a lithium-ion battery recycling facility, producing an ethically sourced stream of cobalt, nickel, manganese, and lithium in the first stage of a closed-loop solution for lithium-ion battery manufacturers. ..."
That's it for this week! Remember, you can always view thousands of more jobs on Climatebase.org.
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