Ocean upwelling is a natural process that happens all the time. It involves photosynthesis and phytoplankton, which are microscopic plants that remove CO2 from the air and put it in the deep ocean. In parts of the ocean where this natural process has slowed down because the surface ocean has absorbed heat from CO2 emissions, an upwelling pump will bring deep water with important nutrients to the surface and help phytoplankton grow again. When phytoplankton die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean, which is a natural way to remove carbon dioxide from the ocean (CDR). Also, phytoplankton make up half of the oxygen we breathe and are the main food source for ocean fish, so they are very important.
In order to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and keep the temperature from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F), the IPCC says that billions of tons of CO2 must be removed from the air. Compared to planting trees, ocean CDR is preferred because the oceans cover 71% of the Earth. There are no trade-offs, like competing with agricultural land, human infrastructure, or water use, with ocean CDR. Also, phytoplankton double in size every 24 hours, whereas trees take 20-30 years. This means that the tons of CDR that can be sold on voluntary markets are going to be more quickly.
An Ecosystem Market Initiative report says that the voluntary carbon removal market reached $748 million through August 2021, up from $473 million in 2020. This is a big increase. It will be worth $50 billion by 2030, according to McKinsey Sustainability, and Swiss Re expects it to grow by 60% a year until 2050. This is because more businesses and governments are investing in projects to remove carbon from the air.
Ocean waves power a pump that moves high-nutrient seawater from 400 meters (1,312 feet) below the surface to the surface, where phytoplankton blooms can start. This leads to ocean CDR.
According to the company’s CEO Philip Kithil, “Our wave pump technology, in development since 2005, could play a key role in removing the billions of tons CO2 needed to restore a stable climate. Corporations, including Microsoft and Stripe, have approached us to learn how our system can remove CO2 from the environment and thus directly subtract from their corporate CO2 emissions. This funding will accelerate our final testing and set the path for widespread adoption.”
If you want to find out more, go to www.ocean-based.com for more information.