Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture specialists Climeworks has begun operations at its direct air capture (DAC) and storage plant, Orca, the largest facility of its kind.

Capable of capturing 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, the inauguration of Orca comes after the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasised the need for immediate CO2 removal measures to be implemented.

Orca utilises modular and compact stackable container-size collector units, minimising the project’s carbon footprint while also allowing for straightforward replication at locations worldwide. The plant also runs fully on renewable energy, provided by ON Power’s Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant.

As carbon capture needs intensify and the project gains further interest from the market – indicated by partnerships with major players such as Microsoft and Swiss Re, Climeworks plans to increase its capture capacity ‘significantly’.

With construction being completed just 15 months after the project’s announcement, Christoph Gebald, co-CEO and co-Founder, Climeworks, commented on the achievement, saying, “We are proud, excited, and beyond delighted to have arrived at this stage in our journey to reverse climate change.”

“I want to take this opportunity to convey my gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Iceland, our partners in Iceland, our trusted investors, our corporate clients and pioneers, partners, the media, and our team of Climeworkers in making Orca a reality.”, he added.

The partners mentioned by Gebald include Icelandic companies ON Power and carbon storage experts Carbfix, which will also contribute to Orca’s scaling-up ambitions.

Recognising that the achievement of net zero emissions is still a long way away, Jan Wurzbacher, co-CEO and co-Founder of Climeworks, said that the company is prepared to rapidly ramp up its capacity in the next few years, with Orca being a significant step closer to the company reaching its climate goals.