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Want a piece of Elon Musk’s $100 million award for battling climate change? You’ll have to fight for it.
The billionaire Tesla CEO and his eponymous foundation are funding a four-year competition to find new technologies that can pull planet-warming carbon dioxide out of the air.
XPRIZE, a nonprofit that runs contests to solve the world’s biggest problems, announced details of the initiative Monday after Musk teased the $100 million incentive on Twitter last month.
“This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level,” Musk said in a statement. “Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”
The contest — which will officially open on April 22 to coincide with Earth Day — is one of Musk’s largest philanthropic commitments to date.
It aims to identify solutions that will contribute to the long-term goal of removing 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere or oceans and storing it in an “environmentally benign” way, XPRIZE said.
The winning teams of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs will have to build scale models of their technologies that can extract and store one ton of emissions per day, according to XPRIZE. They’ll also have to show that they can scale up their inventions to “gigaton levels,” the group said.
The organization contends that carbon-capture technology will need to supplement efforts to limit emissions in order for the world to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
XPRIZE plans to choose three top winners after four years, with first place receiving a $50 million grand prize. The second-place team will get $20 million and third place will get $10 million.
The remaining $20 million will be given out a year and a half into the competition, when the judges will give the top 15 teams $1 million each to help build full-scale demonstrations of their solutions. Additionally, 25 student teams who enter the contest will get scholarships for $200,000 apiece, XPRIZE said.
Musk — who is the world’s richest person with a net worth of $203 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index — previously funded XPRIZE’s $15 million competition to help children teach themselves reading, writing and math.
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