Ian Stanley, Director at Rainbow Bee Eater explains how the Echo2 pyrolysis technology works on location at Holla Fresh Herbs in Tantanoola, S.A.
Corporate Tech giant Microsoft have hopped on the steering wheel of the global economy ship by understanding and repairing the effect their business activities have had in the past and are still having on the carbon cycle. We are proud to announce that ANZ Biochar made it into the mix after careful reflection.
The nascent carbon removal industry just had a big pebble dropped into it’s pond that will cause ripple effects right to the edge as they lead the way along with other Fortune 500 Companies such as Stripe, Shopify & Swiss Re to focus on methods and technologies that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere in the short, medium and long term. Biochar was the only medium term solution they chose.
Our colleagues in Europe (Germany & Finland) joined Australia’s ECHO2 pyrolysis technology developed by Rainbow Bee Eater (RBE) and specifically the Holla Fresh Bioenergy & Biochar Project in Tantanoola, South Australia. In any given year from here on in this project is estimated to produce approximately 1000 -1500 tonnes of biochar which equates to 2880 – 4320 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum. In this it’s inaugural year, Microsoft purchased 400 mtCO2 from the project.
The Echo2 was originally funded by Alcoa, the Australian Aluminium company as a way of de-carbonising their processes but it didn’t progress to the commercial phase as the company could not produce a clean syngas from it. Former Alcoa Senior Executive Peter Burgess who was also a Director of Rainbow Bee Eater at the time wrote into the contract that they would take over the technology and develop it if Alcoa were not interested. That’s exactly what they did.
Peter travelled to world to see if he could find a pyrolysis technology that could produce a clean syngas suitable to use as a form of bioenergy in commercial enterprises but to his demise was unsuccessful. RBE have spent a now 12 year journey to develop the technology to what it is today.
Protected Cropping is the first industry that has benefited from the Echo2 in ANZ, powering a 1 hectare glasshouse growing herbs for Woolworths, Coles and other produce retail outlets. Holla Fresh Herbs are ideally located halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, servicing both markets.
The carbon removal certificates produced by the Echo2 @ Holla Fresh Herbs were made possible by the world’s first voluntary carbon removal marketplace, Puro.Earth of which the Echo2 is listed as a supplier. This early adopter underwent a rigorous verification process including a life cycle assessment (LCA) to ensure they have removed the carbon from the atmosphere and stored it in soil in the medium to long term for between 100 years up to a millennia. The LCA was carried out by Energy Link Services.
99% of the short term natural solutions Microsoft chose were sustainable tree planting and verified soil carbon projects which highlight three important points. (i) Tree planting & soil carbon are the current cheapest, at scale carbon removal method (ii) TP & SC are short term because there are so many variables to consider when it comes to their permanency such as decay and combustion. (iii) sustainable land management a.k.a. Pyrogenic Carbon Capture & Storage (PyCCS) combined with bioenergy and biochar production is now a solid & secure business activity to be involved in.
Impact investors therefore take note of the safe bet that biochar provides when it comes to carbon removal and carbon accounting. Microsoft have put their money where their mouth is, watch others follow.
Microsoft carbon removal Lessons from an early corporate purchase
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