Iceland marks milestone in carbon capture and storage

Module of the next generation of Climeworks technology
Next-generation Climeworks technology module

In what represents a major milestone for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Iceland, three cutting-edge technologies are coming together to enable massive scale-up of carbon dioxide removal from the air, literally turning it to stone on a Geothermal Park.

This landmark three-way agreement will lay the foundation to scale up CO2 removal significantly to 4,000 tons per year, so demonstrating the sustainable potential of CCS and helping pave the way for both mitigating and potentially reversing climate change in future.

The commitment to collaborate sees leading direct-air-capture technology specialist Climeworks sign groundbreaking agreements with both Carbfix, carbon storage pioneers, and ON Power, the Icelandic geothermal energy provider, to work together on a new plant that will significantly boost carbon removal and storage capabilities in Iceland. The new plant will be able to permanently remove 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per year.

The agreements set down an important milestone in the fight against climate change: They mark the first time the technologies have been combined for a project of this scale to remove CO2 from the air.

Under the agreement with ON Power, Climeworks will build facilities within their Geothermal Park to capture CO2 from the air. This will be done using Climeworks’ direct-air-capture technology (DAC). The geothermal power and heat provided by ON Power secures a constant supply of renewable energy to power the DAC technology.

Climeworks’ agreement with Carbfix ensures the safe storage of the CO2 through natural underground mineralisation. The underground basaltic rock formations in Iceland provide the ideal conditions for this process, providing a permanent solution for CO2 storage.

The collaborative efforts of these agreements are particularly important as the scale-up of carbon removal is essential to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the continued development of these technologies could prove to be a gamechanger in the fight against climate change.

With all three partners pioneering experts in their field, the new agreement promises to take permanent and safe removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere up to the next level, says Jan Wurzbacher, co-founder and co-CEO of Climeworks:

“This collaboration with ON and Carbfix marks a big step forward in reducing the CO2 in our air. The site in Iceland provides ideal conditions: the supply of renewable energy and a safe and natural storage space for our air-captured carbon dioxide.”

Deployment at scale constitutes an exciting opportunity for climate tech, adds Edda Sif Pind Aradóttir, CEO of Carbfix:

“The combination of the proprietary Carbfix and Climeworks technologies marks a turning point in climate action, allowing us to permanently capture CO2 and rapidly turn it into stone underground. Through continued up-scaling of these technologies a climate disaster can be avoided while at the same time establishing a new industrial pillar for the global economy.”

The new facility will also support sustainability aims at the site, concludes Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir, CEO of ON Power:

“The ON Geothermal Park is a venue for companies utilising the resources of the Hellisheiði Power Plant in a responsible and sustainable manner to create value and promote innovation in the field of geothermal operations. This agreement takes us a big step closer to realising that vision.”

Collaborating on CO2: Climeworks, Carbfix and ON Power

Climeworks seeks to empower people to reverse climate change by permanently removing carbon dioxide from the air. With a vision is to inspire 1 billion people to act now, the company returns the carbon dioxide it captures to the earth, where it remains permanently removed from the air for millions of years.

The Climeworks direct-air-capture technology runs exclusively on clean energy, and the modular CO2 collectors can be stacked to build machines of various sizes. Alternatively, the air-captured carbon dioxide can be upcycled into carbon-neutral fuels, paving the way towards a climate-positive world.

Carbfix turns CO2 into stone underground in less than two years through proprietary technology that imitates and accelerates nature’s way of permanently storing carbon. The company’s mission is to be a key instrument to tackle climate change through drastic upscaling of CO2 mineral storage.

Feasible rock formations globally offer storage potential orders of magnitude larger than those needed to achieve agreed climate goals. The method can be applied for reducing emissions from power and industry production as well as for permanent removal of CO2 from air.

Active throughout Iceland, ON Power owns and runs two geothermal power plants, in Hellisheidi and in Nesjavellir, as well as a hydro power plant in Andarkílsá river in Borgarfjordur. The geothermal power plants provide more than half of the hot water for the district heating of the capital area, and they supply electricity both for the general market and for large users.

ON Power operates the Geothermal Park as a venue for third parties to create sustainable value from geothermal resources and to foster innovation and collaboration in the field of geothermal energy.

Both ON Power and Carbfix are subsidiaries of Reykjavik Energy. Carbfix and Climeworks have received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.


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