Elon Musk Pledges $100 Million Prize to Encourage Environmental Innovation

by Nakul

As a supporter of eco-friendly technology, tech tycoon Elon Musk released an announcement on his Twitter page today to stimulate environmental innovation in society. The Tesla CEO tweeted, “Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” followed by “Details next week”.  

This isn’t the first time that Musk has publicly announced his support for efforts to combat climate change. A quick web search will lead you to a plethora of speeches and statements that he has made in regards to the environmental crisis. For instance, in 2013, he explained, “We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.” His actions are in accordance with his words: as the CEO of the world’s largest electric-powered vehicle company, he leads Tesla in continuing to produce green automobiles with minimal CO2 emissions.

Now, back to the main subject. What exactly is carbon capture, and why is Musk pledging such a colossal fortune to support it? 

To boil it down, carbon capture is the process of passively collecting CO2 from the atmosphere and either sequestering it securely or utilizing it to produce useful resources, such as various plastic products. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) originally first appeared in the 1970s; today, scientists and entrepreneurs continue to refine and develop relevant technology in hopes of making significant impacts in this niche sector. There also has been increasing support for this process, with over a 316% increase in carbon capture projects since just 2012. As CEO of the Global CCS Institute Brad Page said in mid-2019, “There are now 51 CCS facilities globally – 19 in operation, four under construction, and 28 in various stages of development with an estimated combined capture capacity of 96 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.” 

It is evident that there is increasing encouragement and (naturally gradual) success in the creation of effective carbon capture technology. Musk’s announcement highlights yet another example of such support for this unique process. Such massive support from a world-renowned businessman is valuable for the environmental industry and the environment itself. Hopefully, Musk’s incentive will steer more entrepreneurs and scientists to focus on eco-friendly technology and accelerate the developments and breakthroughs in carbon capture technology.