Reducing the carbon footprint is the way to a healthier earth. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s foundation has announced a four-year-long CO2-capture competition worth $100 million. The competition is called the Xprize Carbon Removal and is funded by the tech billionaire and the Musk Foundation.
The competition guidelines will be released on April 22, 2021, which happens to be Earth Day. The team registration too opens on the same date. As it is a four-year-long competition, it will end on Earth Day 2025 only. After 18 months, the top 15 teams will get $1 million each. Also, twenty-five $2,00,000 student scholarships will be awarded to the competing teams. Out of the remaining $80 million, 50 will go to the winning team, 20 to the runner-up and 10 to the team that comes at third place.
As per the Xprize blog post, “any carbon negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that sequesters CO2 permanently. “
So what are the criteria to win the competition? The “teams must demonstrate a rigorous, validated scale model of their carbon removal solution, and further must demonstrate to a team of judges the ability of their solution to economically scale to gigaton levels. The objective of this XPRIZE is to inspire and help scale efficient solutions to collectively achieve the 10 gigatons per year carbon removal target by 2050, to help fight climate change and restore the Earth’s carbon balance.”
The teams will be evaluated based upon four criteria. First, the team should have a working carbon removal prototype that can remove at least 1 ton of carbon per day. Second, the team should be able to demonstrate and convince the judges that the prototype is economically viable to the gigaton level. The third and the main metric “is fully considered cost per ton, inclusive of whatever considerations are necessary for environmental benefit, permanence, any value-added products”. The fourth and final criterion is the time duration the removed carbon is locked up for, with the minimum goal being 100 years.