See how digital changes can help turn back climate changes
Through digital updates to their carbon capture plants, Climeworks is working to turn back the effects of climate change for the future of our world.
One of the greatest global calls for change is the phenomenon of global warming. A multi-faceted problem, climate change demands all kinds of solutions.
On a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in 2018, Accenture Chief Technology Officer, Paul Daugherty encountered the Swiss company Climeworks—which focuses on direct air capture of carbon dioxide. A nascent technology but a highly promising one that helps remove the historically emitted CO2 from air, thus lowering the amount of carbon dioxide—crucial to limit global warming to safe levels. The air-captured CO2 can either be safely stored for millions of years, or recycled as raw material for synthetic fuels or other materials in a circular economy.
In 2017, Climeworks commissioned the world’s first commercial-scale direct air capture plant as well as the world’s first carbon dioxide removal plant. As Climeworks was working toward scaling up this much-needed climate technology, Accenture joined forces to accelerate this ambition.
To address the issue of global warming, the world needs to lower its carbon emissions. Climeworks, a Swiss company specializing in carbon dioxide air capture, filters CO₂ directly from ambient air—the world’s first commercial carbon removal technology.View Transcript
Accenture, with its vast resources and varied offerings, was extremely well-positioned to help Climeworks grow and thrive and became the company’s Innovation Partner, to help identify and implement digital solutions to further its success. The partnership demonstrated not only the huge promise of the company’s technology, but the breadth and depth Accenture’s skills, industry expertise and capabilities around the world.
Leveraging its multi-industry perspective, Accenture helped Climeworks answer key questions about its go-to-market strategy. What are the use cases for the CO2 being extracted from the air? In which industries and markets can it be sold? These were the kinds of foundational questions that helped the company finetune its strategy.
Digital Plant Solution:
Focusing at first on the facility in Switzerland, the teams worked together to build a digital plant solution that would help optimize operations by moving from reactive to proactive issue management. For example, the digital plant allowed for the real-time monitoring and detection of anomalies related to critical components; the optimization of energy consumption and the ideal balancing of performance, cost, and life cycle; and the correlating of CO2 production outputs and forecasts with weather and other factors.
Visual Design of “Orca” plant:
Designaffairs, a company recently acquired by Accenture, did the visual design of the new Climeworks CO2 air capture plant in Iceland, working to harmonize the utilitarian structure with the breathtaking Icelandic wilderness landscape. The team traveled to Iceland and mapped the area with drones and other digital technology to get the aesthetics right—a prerequisite of the Icelandic government. The new plant recently received a “Green Good Design Award” from the European Centre.
Opening Doors For Additional Partnerships:
Accenture introduced Climeworks to a variety of its longtime clients that were interested in the carbon removal technology. For example, Climeworks joined the Microsoft Startup Program and also gained Shopify as a client for its CO2 removal offering, with that company investing 23% of its $5 million sustainability fund. Accenture also connected Climeworks with some of its aviation clients, with the goal of ultimately forming a consortium of companies that could use the synthetic fuel created by the captured CO2. This outreach included publishing points of view on the Climeworks website.
Throughout, Avanade (a partnership between Accenture and Microsoft) has been working to help Climeworks’ journey to the cloud, unifying what had been a fragmented IT system.
"When we partnered with Climeworks in 2018, they were beginning to scale and we hoped they would let us support them in their journey to grow - because we believe in their mission. It turned out that we can help them with many interesting digital capabilities including engineering expertise. I am looking forward to continue our great partnership and help making Climeworks even more successful – for us and the next generation."
The collaboration has helped Climeworks make major strides on its scale-up roadmap. And one that promises to have a significant impact on global climate change—and help live up to the company’s vision of inspiring one billion people to be a part of their mission to remove CO2 from air—by offering their service where anyone can contribute in carbon dioxide removal.
Additionally, the successful digital plant solution will now be used at the plant in Iceland—a first in a planned program of scaling by building more facilities. Learnings of the partnership will be applied in the new large-scale direct air capture and storage plant “Orca” in Iceland, which will capture 4000 tons of CO2 each year to store them safely and permanently deep underground through natural mineralization.
Orca plant in Iceland will capture 4000 tons of CO2 each year to store them safely and permanently deep underground through natural mineralization.
Most importantly, Climeworks has successfully taken major steps towards scaling their much-needed climate technology to combat climate change. Specifically, direct air capture helps realize negative emissions to achieve climate targets and neutralizes unavoidable emissions to reach net-zero, or even negative emissions—all working together to stay within the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.