Houston-based startup Fervo Energy has spent the last six years developing cost-effective ways to harness geothermal energy from deep below the Earth’s surface. Now the company plans to harness this energy to build a direct air capture (DAC) plant that would capture and store carbon dioxide from the air.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C will require the net removal of 100-1000 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2100, creating significant demand for carbon removal solutions, including DAC solutions and associated clean, reliable power.
In a DAC facility, large fans move air over materials that capture carbon dioxide. The captured carbon dioxide is heated, concentrated, and then, in many instances, pumped underground.
To operate economically and sustainably, DAC requires a reliable source of carbon-free electricity and heat. Fervo’s designs for a combined geothermal and direct air capture facility may provide a solution to these challenges.
“Geothermal can deliver the carbon-free power and heat needed to make DAC a viable means for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Tim Latimer, CEO of Fervo.
To support its plans for the facility, Fervo has gained backing from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), an organisation established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.
Latimer said: “With robust expertise in geosciences and new support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Fervo is well positioned to drive innovation in carbon removal and demonstrate the natural alignment between geothermal and DAC.”
This funding builds on CZI’s support for organisations that are advancing promising climate change solutions, including carbon dioxide removal.
Caitlyn Fox, CZI vice president of Strategic Initiatives, said: “Carbon removal technologies are a critical tool for addressing climate change.
“In order to scale carbon removal, costs need to come down dramatically. Fervo’s unique integration of next-generation geothermal technology with direct air capture creates exciting opportunities to develop rigorous carbon removal at a lower cost while providing a reliable, abundant, carbon-free source of power and heat.”
Last August, Fervo raised $138m to build and run a fleet of geothermal power plants, bringing total investment in the company to $177m. Its first commercial plant, a 5-megawatt facility, is now under construction in Nevada.
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