Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) firms have lofty expectations of delivering gigaton-scale removals at sub-$100 / ton price — at some point in the distant future.
Such projections, while useful to showcase ambition, are remote enough to be almost meaningless. What happens in 2040 or 2050 depends on myriad interrelated technological innovations, making it essentially impossible for companies to accurately project prices and scale of removals in decades’ time.
Near-term projections, however, can hold more accurate and actionable information, and are therefore more interesting to look into. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been collecting data from companies that have made projections to 2030 in order to understand how companies are mapping out their near term prices and delivery schedules.
In order to do this, we went through the Stripe and Frontier application data (hosted on Github), as well as the Open Air Collective’s This is CDR series, which features entrepreneurs discussing their innovations and plans for the near future.
In order to extrapolate trends in the market, we took the price and scale projections for over 100 companies in the market, aggregated the data at a methodology level, and smoothed out the trends by fitting an exponential trendline over the data.
A few caveats: some of the applications are now several years out of age, and given the low base, we’ve used exponential growth projections for the next several years. Keep in mind, these numbers represent the projections of ~100 companies that are currently leading the industry. Below are some of our findings.
Direct Air Capture
Today’s DAC firms foresee prices falling to around $450/ton, down from nearly $1200 today by 2030. That will be accompanied by a ramp-up of over 1.5m tCO2e removed annually per year from the atmosphere by that year.
This is still a long way off the the $100/ton price that most have set as the one to lead to mass market adoption — and at these rates, the price wouldn’t hit $100 until 2042.
Ocean Carbon Capture
Ocean CDR firms project the steepest decline in price — from over $2,500 in 2022 to just $172/ton by 2030. Reflecting the ocean’s huge role as a carbon sink, the firms expect to sequester over 3.5m tCO2e each by 2030, second only behind enhanced rock weathering (ERW).
Enhanced Rock Weathering
As mentioned, ERW firms project the highest capacity of carbon removals by 2030, with over 13m tCO2e projected to be sequestered per company. The companies project the price to fall gradually to under $100/ton.
The results of the research for the four sectors are below:
To update and verify these numbers, we’ve been running a CDR survey — for companies that contribute, we’ll send back anonymized data points when the survey is finished! Interested companies can add their data here: https://forms.gle/FSJEPGnkNkQF6JbaA
As always, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!