Carbfix: Storing CO2 forever

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In March 2021, the team at Carbfix - a start-up born out of the culmination of more than 15 years of work by universities and parent company Reykjavik Energy- believed it had a game-changing technology to fight against climate change: eliminating CO2 permanently and safely from the atmosphere by storing it in basalt rock. In an aim to scale, they were considering three options to commercialize the concept: licensing the technology to other countries for onsite deployments near carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters, accelerating a direct air CO2 capture and storage system; and developing a storage hub in Iceland where CO2 could be imported and stored. In the deliberations of where to place precious time and resources, the company needed to consider the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) mechanism, a "cap and trade" system that permits carbon units to be sold in order to meet CO2 reduction targets. What was the best path forward to deliver on the company goal of reducing CO2 while building a viable commercial entity?
Bibliographic citation: MITCHELL, J., RAHNEMA ALAVI, A., SIGURJONSSON, T. O. (2021). Carbfix: Storing CO2 forever. IESE, F-974-E.
Date: 01/10/2021
Author(s): Jordan Mitchell; Ahmad Rahnema Alavi; Throstur Olaf Sigurjonsson
Document type: Case
Department: Financial Management
Languages: English
Year of the events: 21
Geographic area: Iceland
Learning objective This case can be used in an undergraduate, graduate or executive program in sustainability, finance, strategic management or courses focused on energy. The objective is for students to consider the dual objective of fighting climate change and commercializing a novel "green tech" concept. Even with worldwide media attention and hundreds of academics pointing to the solution as a "game-changer" for reducing carbon dioxide, Carbfix still needs to prioritize its approach to expansion in light of time and resource constraints.