New carbon capture facility offers hope, sticker shock

The world’s largest carbon capture facility opened last month in Iceland. The idea? Giant fans suck in air and remove carbon directly from the atmosphere, storing it deep underground. But is it worth the expense?

A NASA scientist estimates this expensive facility captures only 3-seconds worth of global emissions a year. 

“He’s not wrong, but I think it’s the wrong framework,” said Julio Friedmann, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy and Policy at Columbia University. “If we compared solar electricity to the very first solar panels that were commercial, they generated like a second of electricity at the price of $300,000 a kilowatt.”

The price of solar has gone down substantially since then. And Friedmann said the cost of capturing carbon will, too. But even then, it should remain one piece of a comprehensive approach to climate change.

Friedmann joined MPR News chief meteorologist Paul Huttner on Climate Cast this week. Click play on the audio player above or subscribe to the Climate Cast podcast to hear the conversation.

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