Technology startups can always depend on the audacity of their ideas to
generate attention. Climos is one
of them. The San Francisco startup, which closed a $3.5 million, first round
of venture financing on Wednesday, wants to help the ocean capture
carbon dioxide, the major culprit among greenhouse gasses.
“They have created a strong business plan for advancing this technology while
addressing the questions surrounding it, which led to our funding of the
company,” said Dennis Costello, of Braemer Energy Ventures, in a statement.
Climos proposes doing this by seeding the ocean with iron, which will promote
the growth of carbon-consuming phytoplankton. At the end of its 60-day
lifecycle, a portion of the plankton sinks and locks away the carbon for long
periods of time.
The company could then sell the carbon offsets in voluntary and mandatory
carbon credit markets around the world.
The science behind the process—known as Ocean Iron Fertilization—is not new.
But there are still questions about its ability to sequester carbon and its
safety and appropriateness.
That’s why financing from the round will be used to fund an Environmental
Impact Assessment and a series of science workshops with research organizations.
The company hopes to do a demonstration cruise in 2009, said Climos CEO Dan
Whaley, and if successful, immediately begin selling carbon credits.
The company aims to sell those credits at $5 to $7 per ton, said Mr. Whaley.
That price would fall within the current wholesale range, which is between $1
and $10 on voluntary markets, said Jason Patrick of Evolution Markets, a New
York-based bank and brokerage.
But Mr. Patrick said the value of carbon offsets depends, among other
factors, on the project type. That means that if Climos’ approach isn’t widely
accepted, its offsets could find a tight-fisted market.
Planktos, another company focused on Ocean Iron Fertilization, announced in February that is was
indefinitely postponing its efforts to generate offsets for carbon credit
markets. The company cited a “highly effective disinformation campaign” that
made it difficult to raise capital to further its research.
Climos, at least in the near future, won’t have to worry about raising money.
Besides New York-based Braemer Energy Venture, Elon Musk, chairman of electric
carmaker Tesla, also participated in the VC round.