Microsoft, a major player in the technology industry, is dealing with a concerning issue of carbon emissions. Despite the company’s promise to become carbon negative by 2030, their carbon footprint continues to increase. As a result, Microsoft has sought the help of Running Tide, an organisation that specialises in reducing the environmental impact of large corporations. Running Tide has previously worked with other companies such as Stripe & Shopify, and now plans to address Microsoft’s carbon emissions by using the ocean as a means of absorbing carbon.
The strategy involves cultivating kelp or algae on eco-friendly buoys, which can soak up carbon dioxide and then descend to the ocean bed. Running Tide, the company behind this technique has reported that it has removed about 1000 tonnes of carbon during initial trials, and further plans to eliminate up to 12,000 tonnes over the next two years exclusively for Microsoft.
This process involves mixing wood and alkaline minerals to create a tiny buoy made of carbon, which can then be used as a platform to grow algae in the open ocean. As the buoy floats, the alkaline minerals gradually dissolve, leading to a reduction in ocean acidity and the removal of carbon dioxide via a process known as ocean alkalinity enhancement. The algae is able to thrive and quickly absorb CO2. Within three months, the buoy, along with the algae and the carbon they contain, sink to the ocean floor. If the buoy sinks deeper than 1,000 metres, the carbon is effectively sequestered for around 1,000 years.
The carbon removal industry is still in its early stages and hasn't yet demonstrated its ability to remove carbon on a large scale. Additionally, some scientists are concerned that fully-developed carbon sequestration projects supported by investors, such as massive kelp farms, could inadvertently cause damage to marine ecosystems, as reported by MIT Technology Review last year.
Microsoft's decision to invest in algae-based technology represents a significant step towards achieving their sustainability goals. By adopting such innovative solutions, Microsoft is demonstrating a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and setting an example for other tech companies. As the urgency to combat climate change continues to mount, it is encouraging to see companies like Microsoft taking proactive steps towards a more sustainable future. With their ambitious carbon-negative target in sight, Microsoft is leading the charge in creating a greener and more sustainable tech industry.