Coastal carbon capture with Vesta
MCJ Startup Series
The ocean is one of nature's largest carbon sinks and it absorbs upwards of 30% of cumulative human emissions. Vesta is tackling the dual problem of shoreline erosion due to sea level rise and carbon emissions reduction with olivine sand that speeds up the ocean's natural carbon cycle. They call it coastal carbon capture, and it's one form of the broader category of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions known as enhanced rock weathering. The olivine sand that Vesta deploys into the ocean accelerates the natural carbon cycle dramatically, creating a form of permanent and durable carbon sequestration.
Vesta also has a very unique corporate setup. They started their journey as a non-profit research group that has continued on as a 501(c)(3) called Coastal Carbon Capture Impact Fund. Vesta – the for-profit public benefit corporation that Tom is CEO of – emerged later as a way to pursue scaled commercial projects leveraging the non-profit research. And the two orgs continue to work together, though they have separate governance structures and economics.
Tom and Cody have a great chat about the many stakeholders at play in the projects they consider, from local communities and scientists to the impact on various types of sea life itself, and the ecotoxicology studies that Vesta produces. They also talk about the nature of olivine and how Vesta sources it, plus how the company determines what shorelines are a good target for coastal carbon capture. If you’re interested in carbon removal generally or nature-based solutions, this one's for you.
In this episode, we cover:
[3:22] Tom's background and how Vesta has evolved
[6:36] The ocean's role as a carbon sink
[11:26] Distinction between geoengineering and nature-based carbon dioxide removal
[13:08] Vesta's origins
[15:54] An overview of olivine and its role in Vesta's CDR approach
[25:10] How Vesta partners with the dredging industry to work more efficiently
[29:41] Coastal engineering and optimizing for carbon removal
[32:43] Vesta's history as a non-profit and separate public benefit corporation (PBC)
[36:00] Philanthropy and project finance
[44:26] How Vesta engage with various stakeholders, including local communities
[49:20] Why Tom decided on coastal carbon removal
[53:41] Pricing for Vesta's carbon credits and how they plan to decrease with scale
[55:02] Vesta's seed financing and future plans for building their business
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Episode recorded on September 27, 2022.