Biochar is booming: What are the risks?

Apr 16, 2024

Waste management was the cover career for the fictional mobster Tony Soprano. It was an industry deemed so boring no one would ask any more questions. It’s good The Sopranos isn’t being shot today because waste management – specifically biochar – is now very much in vogue. It has enormous potential for carbon sequestration but needs some risk metrics to help maintain quality as the market scales.

What is biochar? Biochar is a form of charcoal produced from waste biomass through pyrolysis – a process of burning in a low-oxygen environment. The process locks the carbon contained in the biomass away into a more stable form, removing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years.

Biochar is having a boom. Last year, biochar played a pivotal role in removing 125,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide globally, accounting for a staggering 92.9% of all emissions removed through the engineered carbon removal market.

Buyers are often concerned with the technical and financial risks of high-tech engineered removals, and with the risk of reversal for more nature-based solutions.

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