Climate efforts so far have had limited tangible results, and global emissions have continued to increase every year, as current efforts to reduce emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industries such as oil and gas, power, steel, cement, fertilizers, etc., have been inadequate. Carbon capture is one method that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from these heavy industries. Moreover, newer technologies like direct air capture (DAC) can also reduce the carbon footprints of industries that do not have active flue-stacks, such as construction and data centers, as well as non-stationary emissions from transportation. Carbon capture technologies, along with utilization and sequestration, would play a vital role in quickly decarbonizing economies over the next few decades to reach aggressive zero-emission targets.
The next-gen carbon utilization segment has the highest number of startups followed by direct air capture (DAC) and flue-gas capture. This is likely due to the various pathways available to turn captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into valuable commercial products.
There are only a few carbon sequestration startups, possibly due to challenges in commercial feasibility. The economic gain from storing captured CO2 underground is limited compared to converting it into commercial products. Meanwhile, a higher number of pre-seed and seed-stage startups suggests that the industry is at a very nascent state.
Incumbents dominate the flue-gas capture segment, with leading oil companies like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Oxy attempting to maintain the circularity of their operations by capturing and utilizing carbon dioxide (CO2) in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Meanwhile, companies like Dakota Gas and Air Products capture CO2 from their operations and sell it to third-party EOR operators. Incumbent activity across direct air capture (DAC), next-gen carbon utilization, and carbon sequestration segments are largely limited.