The world’s largest plant, built to suck carbon dioxide out of the air and convert into rock, has been switched on.
Orca – named after the Icelandic word ‘orka’, meaning ‘energy’ – is capable of withdrawing 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air every year, the companies behind the project said.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the equivalent of the emissions produced by about 870 cars.
Constructed by Climeworks in Switzerland and Iceland’s Carbfix, the plant cost as much as $15 million to build.
The machine extracts air through fans into a collector, with a filter inside. Once filled with carbon dioxide, the collector is closed and the temperature increased to extract the CO2 from the filter material, which is then combined with water.
The resulting substance is then injected 1,000 metres deep into basalt rock, where it is mineralised.
Proponents of the tech believe new technologies like Orca can be a major weapon in the battle against climate change, despite the exorbitant costs involved.
And the need for drastic action couldn’t be more obvious, with research this week revealing that rich countries – like the UK – need to undergo massive cuts to meat and dairy consumption to tackle the emergency.
A new report found that 20 meat and dairy companies have higher emissions than Germany, France or Britain.
But the industry received more than £348 billion from 2015 until 2020 from 2,500 investment companies, banks and pension funds, based on findings by Friends of the Earth and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung group.
The findings come after last month, a United Nations report prompted warnings of a “code red for humanity” because of humans’ impact on global heating.
The UN’s IPCC findings said people’s effect on the planet is already “locked-in” for decades to come, but that the climate crisis could get much worse.
It warned that without rapid and large-scale action to cut emissions, global temperatures will increase and pass a critical threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius over the next 20 years.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: He added: “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.
“Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”
Guterres called for government leaders and all stakeholders to come together to avoid a “climate catastrophe” – and stressed there is “not time for delay and no room for excuses”.