Carbon capture's unexpected hurdle
Direct air capture is facing an unexpected hurdle — the slowed development of continuous renewable energy even as groups like Stripe-backed Frontier rev up on the $1 billion industry.
Why it matters: Investors, tech companies and scientists are all excited about the potential promise — and relative necessity — around DAC, but it's still facing key infrastructure issues that could stall progress, and ultimately curtail its effectiveness.
State of play: All existing DAC technologies require energy in some form to function.
- If companies opt to burn fossil fuels to operate DAC tech, the net-zero equation becomes trickier.
Yes, but: Renewable energy is still not at a place where it can supply continuous power from sources like solar and wind.
- Even with grid-level storage, the infrastructure around batteries and moving the energy from the generating plant to a different location for use is lagging.
- "It's a difficult engineering problem with a solution that doesn't exist yet," Peter Minor, Carbon180's director of science and innovation, tells Axios.
The bottom line: Any climate technologies powered by fossil fuels may end up doing more harm than good until continuous, grid-scale renewables are online.