Wait, what? Algae Carbon Capture?! | The Rush to Stay Below 1.5ºC

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 17, 2022 by Noreen Wise, Founder & CEO of Gallant Gold Media, and author; Image Credit: AdobeStock

In a recent interview with Preet Bharara on his weekly podcast Stay Tuned, Dr. Pete Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, emphasized that every tenth of a degree matters in our fight to stay below 1.5ºC.

If every tenth of a degree matters, then every action and inaction matters.

Voting in climate action candidates is the single most impactful, positive climate action we can undertake. Additionally, there are endless small daily actions and decisions that will impact both short-term and long-term climate change outcomes. When we as individuals focus on the small things, we quickly feel much more hopeful about the future.

Systemic change in energy, industry and transportation is required to prevent runaway warming. But systemic change has always been driven by the public’s demand for change, which is typically driven by the public’s support for specific campaigns as well as consumer products.

Environmental organizations have spent decades involved with, and lobbying for, nature-based climate action solutions such as biodiversity restoration, regenerative agriculture, planting trees, living walls, roof-top gardens, kelp farms, pollinator meadows, alfalfa fields, and adding compost to soil, etc which are all on the long list of projects to drawdown legacy load carbon in record time through natural processes. Additionally, millions and millions of homeowners in the U.S. and internationally, have jumped in to transform their toxic, monoculture yards to biodiverse layers of native trees, shrubs, perennials and ground cover, which simultaneously restores soil health and draws down that much more carbon.

With so much public support for nature-based carbon drawdown solutions, and with billions of individuals doing their small bit in their own yards, let’s get excited about an innovative new nature-based carbon sequestration strategy that will soon be transforming coastal deserts.

Algae carbon capture.

Algae lines the coasts of each and every continent. Brilliant Planet, headquartered in London, is a creative team of innovators working hard to drawdown legacy carbon using algae and mimicking the way real algae blooms spring up seasonally, but replicating the process year round. Brilliant Planet’s unique natural method of deacidifying ocean water to grow microalgae in large open-air ponds, is a low cost solution. Cost matters a lot when the objective is speed and scale. Brilliant Planet’s mission is to use microalgae to sequester carbon permanently and quantifiably at the gigaton scale.

In an article published by Algae Planet, Brilliant Planet’s CEO Adam Taylor explained, “Nature-based solutions to climate change are normally the most scalable and cost-effective but it is often difficult to verify the amount of carbon removed by these methods and the permeance of the storage. On the other hand, man-made solutions such as direct air capture can be easily verified but are prohibitively expensive due to the significant inputs of energy, chemicals and fresh water required. Brilliant Planet has now developed a uniquely cost-effective, scalable and verifiable nature-based system that delivers on all requirements.” Taylor went on to state that, “With the IPCC confirming that tremendous amounts of carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we feel that this is the right solution at the right time.” 

Brilliant Planet was founded in 2013. The team spent its first eight years on pioneering research and development, and three years on pilot operations. It is now developing a production platform that can be easily scaled and deployed around the globe. Funding has come from some of the most reputable climate technology investors: Union Square Ventures, Toyota Ventures, S2G Ventures, and Future Positive Capital.

If all goes as planned, and multiple gigatons of carbon are permanently removed from the atmosphere through algae sequestration, this should help in altering our destiny by one tenth of a degree.

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