Carbon storage in the soil

CO2 storage is seen as having great potential in stopping global warming and achieving climate goals. Different approaches have been developed to this effect, such as the "Direct Air Capture" technology. It involves the direct extraction of CO2 from the ambient air. However, such systems are very energy-intensive and only make a positive contribution if they are 100% supplied by renewable energies.

Biochar binds carbon for many years

If organic residual material such as tree cuttings is simply dumped, decomposition processes are inevitably set in motion. Over time, these processes release all the carbon present in the residual material into the ambient air as CO2.

When organic material is pyrolyzed to biochar, the carbon it contains is permanently stored. Depending on the literature, a storage period of 100 years or more is assumed. Carbon is therefore not released through decomposition processes.

This explains the CO2 storage potential of biochar. Per tonne of pure, dry biochar, up to 3.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalents can be stored in the soil.

Compensation for CO2 storage

Companies and institutions that emit CO2 increasingly want to contribute to reducing their carbon footprint. One popular option is to compensate for emissions by implementing measures that store CO2 in return.

The production of biochar and its incorporation into arable soils is often the method of choice. In this case, not only is CO2 stored, but the positive growth effects also generate a tangible and easy-to-understand additional benefit in terms of food security. Unlike with many other measures, this one combines several positive effects which can be easily communicated.

There are quite a number of companies on the market that bring together and mediate between CO2 emitters and biochar producers. The company that seeks to offset CO2 enters into a partnership with the intermediary and pays a sum of money to offset the CO2 emissions. In return, the company receives a certificate with which it can advertise. The intermediary in turn remunerates the biochar producer.

The advantage for the biochar producer is that he does not have to deal with the acquisition of certificate purchasers himself and, in the best case, can even secure a long-term purchase. Such platforms are, for example, Carbon Future or First Climate.

More about biochar and compost