could algae help curb global warming?


According to the most recent IPCC report released on Monday (April 4, 2022), removing carbon from the atmosphere is now ‘essential’ to achieving net zero carbon emissions and limiting global warming to 1.5°C. In the same week, Brilliant Planet announced a $12m investment in its carbon capture and storage system based on algae.


‘This announcement comes at an important time: on Monday the UN IPCC released its latest report underscoring the central role of carbon dioxide removal in meeting our shared climate goals,’ says the company. ‘We believe that nature-based solutions that are quantifiable and additive will play a crucial role over the decades to come.’

a UK company is growing massive algae ponds to sequester carbon at gigaton scale
images courtesy of Brilliant Planet



Since 2013, Brilliant Planet has been using the power of algae blooms to sequester carbon at gigaton scale. The process involves massive open-air ponds on coastal desert land. Following its first 3 sqm experiment on the shores of St Helena in South Africa, the company has scaled up its efforts to a 30,000 sqm production facility with the world’s largest algae growth pond in the coastal desert of Morocco.


The method harnesses a naturally occurring process without the addition of fresh water. Brilliant Planet explains, ‘We’re different from conventional algae systems. We don’t scale up an artificial test tube with artificial seawater and pumped in carbon dioxide. Our nature-based system scales down the ocean to use natural seawater, nutrients and CO2. This natural process deacidifies seawater, enhancing local ecosystems and also enables paradigm-shifting levels of affordability.’

a UK company is growing massive algae ponds to sequester carbon at gigaton scale
Brilliant Planet says its algae-based method captures 30 times more carbon per year than rainforests



Adam Taylor, Brilliant Planet CEO, says, ‘Nature-based solutions to climate change are normally the most scalable and cost-effective but it is often difficult to verify the amount of carbon removed by these methods and the permeance of the storage. On the other hand, man-made solutions such as direct air capture can be easily verified but are prohibitively expensive due to the significant inputs of energy, chemicals and fresh water required. Brilliant Planet has now developed a uniquely cost-effective, scalable and verifiable nature-based system that delivers on all requirements. With the IPCC confirming that tremendous amounts of carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we feel that this is the right solution at the right time.’ 


Raffael Jovine, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder adds, ‘By using empty desert and seawater that would not have otherwise come to the surface, our solution creates ‘new’ Net Primary Productivity. In other words, we employ underutilized natural resources to grow new biomass and draw down excess carbon dioxide. Per unit area this approach sequesters up to 30 times more carbon per year than rainforests, while it also de-acidifies the local coastal seawater back to pre-industrial levels.’


The company is currently developing a scalable production platform so that the algae ponds can be deployed across the globe.

a UK company is growing massive algae ponds to sequester carbon at gigaton scale
the company has chosen coastal deserts for maximum additionality and to bring economic opportunities to underserved areas



project info:


company: Brilliant Planet