Start of a global industry?24 February 2021
Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Occidental, and Rusheen Capital Management, a private equity firm, have formed a development company, 1PointFive, to finance and deploy Carbon Engineering’s large-scale direct air capture (DAC) technology. 1PointFive and Carbon Engineering have signed a licensing agreement enabling the commercial development of the world’s largest DAC facility, a first step towards their aspiration to deliver this technology on an industrial scale throughout the United States
1PointFive’s mission is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere using Carbon Engineering’s DAC technology. This technology provides a pathway to bolster Paris Agreement aligned efforts aimed at limiting increases in global temperature to 1.5°C.
“The formation of 1PointFive is a significant catalyst that will advance our plans to build the world’s largest-scale DAC facility to remove substantial volumes of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere,” said Richard Jackson, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures president and chairman of 1PointFive. “Occidental has over 40 years of carbon dioxide management experience, and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures is applying our technical ingenuity and engineering skill to help make large- scale DAC facilities a reality. This is an important step toward realising our vision for a new, sustainable low-carbon economy, and we are dedicated to working with Rusheen and Carbon Engineering to ensure this critical technology becomes a global emissions reduction solution.”
As announced in May 2019, the engineering and design for the first facility to be built through this agreement is already underway. In August 2019, the companies released a ‘first look’ at the design of the plant (see illustration), which, when operational, will be the largest DAC plant in the world, capturing up to one million metric tons of atmospheric CO2 annually. Currently, the world’s largest individual DAC facilities have the capacity to capture several thousand tons of CO2 per year.
The facility will be located in the Permian Basin with a land footprint of approximately 100 acres. More than 25 000 hours of Carbon Engineering, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, and contractor time has been completed on the design and development work so far. The final front-end engineering design for the facility is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2021 with construction expected to start in 2022.
The CO2 captured at the facility will be permanently and securely stored deep underground in geological formations by Occidental. It will be used in lower-carbon oil production, which permanently stores CO2 as part of the process, and for geologic sequestration to deliver permanent carbon removal, a solution to counteract hard-to- eliminate emissions and help businesses achieve their net zero targets. Atmospheric CO2 can also be used as a feedstock to create low-carbon products like plastics and concrete.
Occidental says it has been permanently storing CO2 for more than 40 years, with nearly 20 million metric tons sequestered in its operations annually. The company has two US Environmental Protection Agency approved monitoring, reporting and verification plans to validate the integrity, transparency and permanence of the entire sequestration process. Occidental’s contributions to the venture include engineering, project development and other technology performance assistance that will provide support for the development and financing of the DAC plant.
“The Carbon Engineering business model is to license our technology to developers around the world to enable rapid and widespread global deployment of DAC technology,” said Steve Oldham, the company’s CEO. “This partnership marks Carbon Engineering’s first licensing agreement in the US and is a critical next step in the commercialisation of DAC technology. It will prove the technology at large, climate-relevant scale, validate the cost, and demonstrate that DAC is now a feasible, available and affordable tool that can be added to the global climate toolkit. It will also allow Carbon Engineering to grow and meet the increasing demand for carbon removal from the private and public sectors. We are looking to replicate this licensing model in other markets around the world so we can deploy DAC as quickly and broadly as possible, and start to make a meaningful impact on the huge climate challenge.”
The agreement between 1PointFive and Carbon Engineering, as well as the partnership’s first commercial facility, is enabled by what are described as “effective market-based policies in the US”, such as the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the Federal 45Q tax credit.
“We have an ambitious goal for 1PointFive – to help the world limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees – but we also have a powerful and practical vision for what needs to be done,” said Jim McDermott, 1PointFive’s CEO and founder & managing partner of Rusheen Capital Management. “Assessments by major organisations such as the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences are increasingly clear that to avoid the dangerous impacts of climate change, we will need to remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. A global DAC industry will be key to achieving this.”