Amazon follows Microsoft, investing big in carbon capture

FAN Editor

Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon


After a recent infusion of government money into technology that sucks carbon out of the air, big business is getting in as well.

Amazon announced Tuesday that it will help fund the world’s largest deployment of direct air capture (DAC) technology by purchasing a quarter of a million metric tons of carbon removal over the next decade from STRATOS, the first DAC plant from 1PointFive, a carbon removal technology company. Amazon did not disclose the dollar value of the investment.

The carbon that is removed through the air capture systems will then be stored underground in saline aquifers, which are large rock formations saturated in salt water.

A quarter of a million metric tons of carbon dioxide is equivalent to the emissions in one year from 55,633 gasoline-powered cars, according to the EPA.

Amazon, through its Climate Pledge Fund, is also investing in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate tech firm that is helping to accelerate commercial deployment of new DAC materials to absorb carbon.

“With these two new investments in direct air capture, we aim to target emissions we can’t otherwise eliminate at their source,” Kara Hurst, Amazon’s VP of worldwide sustainability, said in a release. “We’re also helping launch technologies we know the world will need to avoid the worst effects of global climate change — supporting those technologies’ growth so they’ll also be available to other companies and organizations.”

Amazon is attempting to decarbonize its global operations through wind and solar renewable energy projects, delivery fleet electrification and reduction in the weight packing per shipment.

Amazon’s announcement comes on the heels of Microsoft‘s news that it has agreed to buy carbon credits from California-based startup Heirloom Carbon, which uses limestone to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The credits will remove up to 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next decade. That would amount to at least $200 million based on market prices. The carbon offsets are equivalent of the annual emissions of roughly 70,000 gas-powered cars.

Heirloom’s DAC Hub was recently selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for up to $600 million in matching funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“As an investor in and customer of Heirloom, we believe that Heirloom’s technical approach and plan are designed for rapid iteration to help drive down the cost of large-scale Direct Air Capture at the urgent pace needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Brian Marrs, Microsoft’s senior director of energy and carbon, said in a release.

While these are some of the largest financial commitments to DAC, scientists say that worldwide, it’s necessary to remove about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in this century in order to keep global warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius-limit set by the Paris Agreement, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Solving big problems requires innovation and invention of new technologies that don’t exist yet, and it’s important that we use all the tools available to us to make the greatest impact,” Hurst said.



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