Boston Consulting Group and Square Inc turn to Climeworks for carbon capture

Pictured: Climeworks' 'Orca' DAC plant in Iceland

BCG announced its Climeworks partnership this week. The partnership will run for ten years and will see BCG purchasing carbon capture capacity from Climeworks’ growing network of direct air capture (DAC) arrays.

As well as the purchasing, BCG will provide consulting services to Climeworks. The level of investment and the level of carbon capture this will finance have not been disclosed.

Climeworks’ technology works by drawing air into a collector with a fan. Inside the collector, CO2 is filtered out. When the filter is full, the collector is closed and heated to release the CO2, ready for concentration and storage. The carbon associated with developing and operating the DAC facilities, Climeworks claims, is typically equivalent to 10% of the carbon that will be captured. This calculation considers the fact that the facilities are powered by geothermal energy.

BCG is notably aiming to become a net-zero company by 2030 and to go further, sequestering more carbon than its value chain generates, in the longer term. There is an interim ambition to halve the emissions intensity of operations by 2025, against a 2019 baseline, but BCG has repeatedly stated that it sees man-made carbon capture solutions playing a role alongside in-house emissions reductions.

BCG’s chief executive Christoph Schweizer called the partnership “critical” in the firm’s “quest to lead in the decarbonisation space”.

BCG’s climate intentions were called into question during COP26. The firm was consulted by the UK Government for the summit’s strategy, and featured at several events at the UK Pavillion. This angered some green groups who pointed out that the firm provides services to 19 of the world’s largest 25 fossil fuel firms. Fossil fuel firms were blocked from direct involvement in COP26 via sponsorship. 

Square Inc

ClimeWorks has secured contracts with a string of big-name companies in recent times, amid the growing interest in net-zero and carbon-negative targets. Supporters include Ocado, Swiss RE, Audi, Microsoft and Stripe, as well as BCG.

Also joining this cohort of companies this month is US-based financial services and digital payments firm Square Inc. Square Inc has signed a nine-year deal, covering 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide removal.

Similarly to BCG, Square Inc announced a 2030 net-zero target last year. The target covers direct emissions and the firm’s largest sources of indirect (Scope 3) emissions.

Square Inc’s global ESG lead Neil Jorgenson said: “Early and long-term adoption of this technology is investing in a future of affordable and large-scale removal which is an essential component to helping mitigate the future negative externalities of climate change.”

The news from Climeworks comes in a busy week for the carbon capture technologies space.

The UK Government this week opened a new £64m funding pot for innovators developing DAC and other greenhouse gas removal systems.

At the same time, a survey of 1,500 people in the UK, commissioned by BeZero Carbon, found that 86% support further government investment in carbon removal technologies. The proportion stood at 87% for business investment.

For context, global emissions in 2020 were 42 gigatonnes. At present, man-made carbon removal solutions are estimated to be capturing just 38.5 million metric tonnes of CO2e annually; less than one-thousandth of the global total. While a rapid expansion of capacity is forecast, it is, of course, not guaranteed.

Sarah George

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