Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is teaming with the Culver City-based XPrize Foundation to offer what’s being billed as the largest “incentive prize” in history — $100 million for the development of systems and programs to attack global warming.
Bankrolled by Musk, the campaign will offer cash incentives for groups that develop “solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way.”
The Foundation pointed to scientific estimates that the world needs to remove up to 6 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, and 10 gigatons per year by 2050 “to avoid the worst effects of climate change.” To reach that goal, “we need bold, radical tech innovation and scale-up that goes beyond limiting CO2 emissions, but actually removes CO2 already in the air and oceans,” according to the Foundation. “If humanity continues no a business-as- usual path, the global average temperature could increase 6 degrees (Celsius) by the year 2100.”
Full details of the competition are expected to be released on Earth Day on April 22. But according to the XPrize website, 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.”
After 18 months, 15 teams will be awarded $1 million each to kick- start fundraising for develop full-size demonstrations of their projects. A total of 25 $200,000 scholarships will be awarded to student teams.
The ultimate grand prize winner will receive $50 million, with $20 million awarded for second place and $10 million for third place.
“We want teams to build real systems that can make a measurable impact at a gigaton level,” Musk said. “Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”