Recently, on May 31st, the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide (CO2) capture plant was opened in Hinwil, Switzerland by Climeworks, using a scalable and modular design. The company hopes that the design features combined with its commercial potential will encourage other, similar plants to open. They “estimate around 250,000 DAC-plants like the one in Hinwil are necessary” to reach their target of capturing one percent of global emissions by 2025 (10 gigatonnes per year, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
The plant will remove 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by passing it through a proprietary filter, which is heated to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) to release the gas. The gas from the Hinwil station is then fed to nearby greenhouses to help plants grow, and could increase lettuce harvest yields by 20 percent. Climeworks claims that the CO2 could also be used by soft drink companies to carbonate drinks, and by energy companies to produce carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels and materials.
This power plant has the potential to be a key ally in the fight against climate change because it provides a way to get rid of CO2 emissions. This allows us to minimize damage while producing energy, however, we must also work to repair what we have already done (and continue to do). This technology could be integrated into a wider plan with carbon-neutral fuels like nuclear, solar, and wind power.
And, as previously mentioned, this plant is also commercially viable, like renewable solutions like solar power have become. This is important because it does not force businesses to sacrifice profits in order to become more “green”. In fact, the CO2 produced by this plant could even be used by power plants to cleanly convert CO2 into methanol fuel.