Shopify to tap Carbon Engineering’s CO2 capture technology

Carbon Engineering staff on site at the company's working pilot plant in Squamish | submitted

What happened: Carbon Engineering signs Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify as a customer for its carbon capture technology

Why it matters: B.C. company, which is ramping up commercialization of its technology, is now tapping a new revenue source

As Carbon Engineering ramps up commercialization of its CO2 capture technology, the B.C. cleantech company is also capturing a Canadian tech giant as a customer.

Ottawa-based Shopify Inc. (TSX:SHOP) has signed on as the first organization planning to purchase permanent CO2 removal from the atmosphere by tapping one of Carbon Engineering's to-be-built direct air capture plants.

The arrangement, announced as wildfire smoke still blankets much of B.C. as of Tuesday (September 15), also sees e-commerce giant Shopify invest in a demonstration of CO2 removal from Carbon Engineering's under-construction innovation centre near its Squamish headquarters.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the agreement is backed by a Shopify sustainability fund that commits a minimum of $5 million each year to technology addressing climate change.

Carbon Engineering’s technology takes CO2 directly out of the atmosphere, where it can either be sequestered or used for low-carbon fuel.

Back in June it broke ground on the innovation centre that includes an advanced development facility, and an integrated direct air capture and air-to-fuel plant.

The centre, which is expected to open in August 2021, will be able to capture 4.5 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and produce at least 320 litres of low-carbon fuel a day.

Investors in the company include Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, Chevron Technology Ventures and Murray Edwards, executive chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX: CNQ), among others.

To date, it’s raised more than $100 million from private investors.

The company is focused primarily on three market segments: jurisdictions that wish to capture carbon to battle climate change; enhanced oil recovery to deliver carbon-neutral or carbon-negative crude; and the creation of synthetic liquid fuel products by combining hydrogen with Carbon Engineering’s captured carbon.

“If an airline decided that they wanted to take ownership in a plant, they could essentially sequester an equivalent amount of emissions under the ground and decarbonize in that manner,” Carbon Engineering chief technology officer David St. Angelo told BIV last week. 

“Our technology provides an option for not only industries that have the ability to put CO2 in the ground, like an oil company, but we also can address those harder to decarbonize industries, like airlines, like data centers.”

Watch below as Carbon Engineering chief technology officer David St. Angelo talks to BIV about the company’s technology and the potential for it to change the way organizations tackle climate change.