This business model—the sale of offsets—is how Climeworks is approaching a key problem for the nascent DAC industry: How to make money. The alternative is to sell the captured CO2 to manufacturers who can use it as a raw material for cement and other products, or to oil companies that, ironically, use it to help dredge up more oil. But those customers are more accustomed to prices around $100 per ton.

Since the carbon offset market, as a whole, is riddled with cheap, dubious offsets, some emitters might be willing to pay top dollar, like Swiss Re (and Coca Cola and Microsoft, also major Climeworks clients), for a rock-solid offset. That capital, in turn, will help DAC scale and bring the cost down; experts predict it could reach $150 per ton in the next 5-10 years.

Orca will likely soon be dwarfed by competing projects in the US and Scotland that are expected to come online in the next two years. But even then, without much more public and private investment, the industry will be far from the 10 million tons per year that the International Energy Agency says are needed by 2030.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.