A carbon-sucking plant breaks ground in Iceland

A carbon-sucking plant breaks ground in Iceland
A view of groundbreaking at Climeworks’ Mammoth direct air capture plant, Hellisheidi Geothermal Park, near Reykjavik, Iceland in this undated handout picture obtained by Reuters June 28, 2022. Climeworks/Handout via REUTERS

We need a lot of creative solutions to solve the climate crisis, and unique technological advancements will be needed to deal with the increasing amount of carbon emissions that get put into our atmosphere each year.

But there’s also a more straightforward approach, and it pretty much boils down to this: reach up into the air and suck out the carbon dioxide. Sounds easy, right?

Not so much, but it’s not deterring some from trying.

In Iceland, Climeworks, a Swiss climate tech company, just broke ground on its largest facility for sucking carbon dioxide from the air. The new plant, named Mammoth, is one of less than 20 direct air capture (DAC) plants in the world that do this kind of thing, and it’s going to be able to suck around 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air per year.

That all sounds amazing until you realize that the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that to make a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions, these kinds of plants need to be able to draw down 85 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030. The hope is that a new generation of plants will be able to pull about 1 million tons of carbon out of the air, but that’s a way out from the Mammoth under construction for the next year and a half or so. Still, it’s pretty cool to scientifically emulate what trees have been doing for thousands of years.