What is MRV?
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is key to fighting global warming and keeping the temperature increase below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Yet, to make sure that CDR solutions can be counted towards this goal, they need to be verifiable, which requires the development of standards to quantify their impact. This is what the field of monitoring, reporting, and verification, short MRV, is aiming to do.
Climeworks strives for the highest quality of its CDR service, therefore placing the topic of MRV at the center of our development. We want to bring measurability and accountability to CDR, leading the CDR ecosystem to the highest level of integrity.
We have therefore partnered with Carbfix and DNV to develop the world’s first full-chain methodology dedicated to CDR via direct air capture and storage (DAC+S). The full-chain methodology covers two modular methodologies focusing on 1) DAC, and 2) storage through permanent underground mineralization. It has been validated by the independent quality and assurance leader DNV, and can now be applied to a DAC+S project such as Orca to third-party verify the CDR produced by this project. As a result, Climeworks delivered its very first third-party verified CDR services to its customers in 2022.
What is certification and why is it important?
Certification means quality assurance for the invisible qualities of a service or product.
Much like a certification can identify which apples in the grocery store were grown organically, certification in carbon markets is about showing the otherwise imperceivable quality and integrity of CDR to the market and customers. Certification is the result of successful third-party verification that a removal was produced according to a validated methodology and meets a stated standard. Many certification labels exist, each signifying different quality standards and methodologies used to evaluate the product. The certification is only as meaningful as the rigor and integrity of the standard and methodology it stands for.
How can certification of CDR be achieved?
In the case of CDR, certification means that a third party has verified the removals were produced according to a validated methodology and meet the stated standard. As an example, the CDR services performed at Climeworks’ Orca plant are third-party verified by DNV, based on the methodology that was developed together with Carbfix and which covers all three steps associated with DAC+S.
Take a look at the different steps needed to certify CDR:
Certification standards: This is the foundation of the certification, and represents the quality criteria that must be met by a removal to achieve certification, such as permanence, additionality, project boundaries, and social impacts. The standards behind each certification can vary, meaning that the certification is only as meaningful as the standards that define it.
Methodology: A methodology describes how different projects measure and report how they achieve the standards. For example, while all CDR projects need to measure greenhouse gas emissions, the techniques to measure emissions from trees differ from those used for DAC. Methodologies are validated by the auditor to ensure they are robust, meet the standard, and produce quality consistency with other project types. For example, Climeworks' and Carbfix's full-chain DAC+S methodology was validated by DNV.
Project Design Description/ Document (PDD): The PDD describes how a specific project will implement the validated methodology. Not all DAC projects are the same and the PDD addresses differences resulting from design specifics like what type of monitoring equipment is used. An auditor reviews the PDD and verifies the project follows the validated methodology and meets the certification standards. In the case of Climeworks, a PDD was created for its Orca plant.
Verification: Once the project has produced some removals, an auditor reviews the data, operations, and reporting to verify that the PDD was followed to produce the removals. At this step, the auditor ensures that maintenance and monitoring procedures were followed, and that the removals were properly measured and reported. In Iceland, DNV verifies whether Orca followed its PDD based on the full-chain methodology developed by Climeworks and Carbfix.
Certified CDR: When the verification is successful, the audited production batch can be certified by an accredited certification body.
Climeworks' and Carbfix's full-chain methodology for DAC+S
The methodology developed by Climeworks and Carbfix covers two modular methodologies:
The full-chain methodology can now be used to verify the CDR produced by a DAC+S project, such as Orca, where the CO₂ is captured using Climeworks' DAC technology, and transported to the injection site where it is stored using Carbfix's rapid underground mineralization method.
The methodologies can be applied to verify the CDR production of different DAC+S projects, provided that they fulfill the following requirements:
The project decreases the global CO₂ concentration over its whole lifetime, including construction, operation, and retirement of the project ("cradle-to-grave" life cycle).
The project does not harm the environment and society.
The transparent and rigorous quantification of the CO₂ removal activity is given, where every unit of CDR can be uniquely identified and traced throughout the value chain.
The project activities comply with applicable local environmental, ecological, and social statutory requirements.
The project is installed according to national best practices and national statutory requirements.
All measurement devices are calibrated according to manufacturer recommendations or industry best practices and allow measurements with uncertainty of 5% or lower.
Access to water is given according to local permits.
Climeworks is proud to contribute to the standardization and scale-up of high-quality, permanent removals with a DAC+S methodology that is: