Why We Invested in CarbonCapture

Removing CO2 from the atmosphere, because every degree matters

Carly Anderson
Prime Movers Lab

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We are thrilled to announce that Prime Movers Lab has led a $35M financing round in Carbon Capture Inc. (CarbonCapture) to demonstrate and scale its CO2 capture technology. CarbonCapture is focused on removing CO2 directly from the atmosphere, not just reducing emissions but creating negative emissions. We first invested in CarbonCapture in the summer of 2020 and are proud to support this team in the next stage of its mission to remove gigatons of CO2 from the air. Also participating in this round are the Benioff Foundation, leading global mining group Rio Tinto, and Idealab, where CarbonCapture was created.

The need for negative emissions technologies has never been more apparent. In the past ten years, we have witnessed record heat waves, flooding events, intense droughts, and longer and more intense fire seasons. The report released last month from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (backed by 1000s of pages of scientific research by the international community) shows that such extreme weather events will intensify and happen more often as global warming increases. We also know that every degree matters, and that negative emissions technologies (technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere) are now a ‘must’ rather than a ‘nice to have.’

The public and private sectors are waking up to this reality, and as evidenced by growing markets for CO2 credits and strong policy signals. Removing one tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere has been worth $170–200 on California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) clearance market for the past three years running — the size of the LCFS market was about $3 billion in 2020. Recent legislation considered by the US House Ways & Means Committee has proposed extending and increasing the existing federal “45Q” tax credit for CO2 capture and sequestration to $180 per tonne of CO2 captured directly from the atmosphere (this is often called direct air capture, or DAC). Canada, Singapore, and many European countries have implemented carbon taxes. We see “Voluntary Carbon Markets” (VCMs) growing and multiplying, and private companies like Stripe, Microsoft, and Google beginning to buy down the cost of negative emissions technologies. We expect that CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) will become an industry worth hundreds of billions in the coming decades.

Prime Movers Lab was introduced to CarbonCapture by Bill Gross as the company was spinning out of Idealab Studio in early 2020. For Bill, co-founder and chairman of CarbonCapture as well as numerous other companies, making a gigaton-scale contribution to the carbon removal effort has always been the goal. Prime Movers Lab has been a proud partner to Bill and Idealab Studio for many years, as lead investors in Heliogen, Energy Vault, and Flowing Energy. Along with Carbon Capture, these incredible companies are showing that it is possible to do amazing things for the climate and create massive business opportunities, by applying fresh thinking to challenging problems.

To lead CarbonCapture through this next stage of scale-up and commercialization, industry veteran Adrian Corless has joined the company as Chief Executive Officer. Adrian has spent decades building companies in energy and climatetech, successfully piloting new technologies at industrial scale and growing companies such as Carbon Engineering and Plug Power into powerhouses in their respective sectors.

Bill Gross and Adrian Corless at Idealab

At this pivotal moment for climate action, Prime Movers Lab believes that CarbonCapture’s combination of technology and team is primed to launch this critical industry. We are proud to support Adrian, Bill, and the CarbonCapture team on their mission to positively impact billions of lives by removing gigatons of CO2 from our atmosphere and reducing the damaging effects of global warming.

Prime Movers Lab invests in breakthrough scientific startups founded by Prime Movers, the inventors who transform billions of lives. We invest in seed-stage companies reinventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation and agriculture.

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