The Additionality of Enhanced Rock Weathering in Brazil

Published:
November 15, 2022
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Brazil is a special country when it comes to the use of rock powders in agriculture. It has a unique legislation and already is the global leader in Enhanced Rock Weathering, without even knowing it. We wrote a blog post about the situation in Brazil some weeks ago. This may lead to the question of what the benefits of our operations are: what is InPlanet’s Additionality for Enhanced Rock Weathering in Brazil? If you are not familiar with the concept of additionality in today’s carbon market, please give this article a quick read.

In this week’s blog post, we will present the four key points regarding the additionality of our Enhanced Weathering activities in Brazil:

  1. Additionality through scale
  2. Additionality through empowering the transition from chemicals to nature-based agricultural inputs
  3. Additionality through higher and more frequent dosages of natural rock powder
  4. Additionality through strong collaborations with mines

Additionality through scale

The Brazilian national fertilization plan, published earlier this year, contains various references to rock powders (“remineralizadores”) for agricultural use. The federal government set goals for the production of rock powders, e.g. 18 million tons in 2050 (see page 132, point 9). Even though this constitutes a globally outstanding policy regarding rock powders in agriculture, these goals are set very low, especially when we look at the necessary Carbon Dioxide Removal we intend to reach by 2050. For Brazil, we estimate a potential of 200-250MT of carbon dioxide removal per year through the use of rock powders in agriculture. To get there, about 1 Gt of rock powder is required on the supply side. We created the following graphic to visualize the carbon removal potential through Enhanced Rock Weathering generated through the current policy goals compared to InPlanet’s scaling plan.

additionality InPlanet Brazil
Comparing the carbon dioxide removal potential of the Brazilian policy with InPlanet’s goal

Quite visionary, the policy also mentions the development of metrics and tools for Enhanced Weathering as a Carbon Dioxide Removal pathway. However, the goal is to develop those by 2050. InPlanet plans to drive research and development much quicker, with the objective to develop rock-solid metrics and tools within the next 3 years. This means through our activities we will reach this goal more than two decades earlier than the policy.

Additionality through empowering the transition from chemicals to nature-based inputs

Many farmers currently work at the edge of profitability. They simply do not have the financial possibility to start experimenting with new agricultural inputs such as natural rock powder. The free access to rock powder supplied by InPlanet facilitates the transition from synthetic, conventional inputs to nature-based inputs. This is, after Carbon Dioxide Removal, one of the key objectives of our operations. We envision a future, where fertilization with locally sourced rock powders will become the new conventional. Synthetic farming chemicals will then be a mere corrective to fine-tune soil characteristics and health for each crop. Also, we believe that once the farmer has more financial leeway and positive experiences with sustainable solutions, he or she will be more willing to start experimenting with other organic farming practices.

Additionality through higher rock powder dosages and frequencies

Currently, some farmers do already apply rock powders in Brazil. Our market resarch showed that this happens on about 1% of Brazil’s arable land. However, the dosages and frequencies of application are low. On average a farmer applies 1 to 3 tons of rock powder per hectare every few years. To set this in relation to the carbon removal goal we set ourselves for Brazil, we aim to apply 10 tons of rock powder per hectare every year. This shows very clearly that an incentive mechanism via carbon finance is additional and key to bringing Enhanced Rock Weathering in Brazil to its full potential.

Additionality through strong collaborations with mines

Finally, mines need the incentive to enter the market for rock powder production in Brazil. In fact, we are not a big fan of the idea that Enhanced Rock Weathering uses waste from the mining industry. After all, we think that waste is the worst human invention ever and to build trust in Enhanced Rock Weathering we agreed not to present it in this way. In Brazil, we only work with mines that produce legally certified rock powder and consequently sell a chemically and physically sound product for agriculture (according to this technical norm). Also, to reach a serious carbon dioxide removal scale, additional mining of rock powders will be necessary. Many mines (especially smaller, privately owned mines) are reluctant to make the investment necessary to set up the required production lines and certify their rock powders, which is an extensive legal process. We envision offering a catalyzing and safe incentive model to these mines to start producing rock powder. Here, carbon finance will be crucial to create the necessary production capacity for 1GT of rock powder.

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