Mountain of Wood Chips Remains in Akranes Following Running Tide Closure Skip to content

Mountain of Wood Chips Remains in Akranes Following Running Tide Closure

By Erik Pomrenke

Photo: Akranes. Helgarun, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Carbon sequestration firm Running Tide recently announced it will be shutting down its global operations. Before its closure, the company had attracted major investors, including Microsoft and Shopify. The consequences are as of yet unclear for Iceland, where the company had a major base of operation.

The story was first reported by Heimildin, which outlined a systematic lack of oversight for the carbon sequestration company.

Running Tide ceases operations

Running Tide was a carbon-sequestration company based in the US which attempted to sequester carbon from the atmosphere at scale by sinking biomass, including seaweed and lumber, into the ocean. The goal was to create safe, long-term storage for carbon in the ocean, though this narrative has been complicated by recent reporting.

In a Linkedin post dated June 14, Running Tide founder and CEO Mark Odlin stated: “Unfortunately, today we are beginning the process of shutting down Running Tide’s global operations because we are unable to secure the right kind of financing to continue our work with the urgency it requires.”

Odlin continued: “The problem is the voluntary carbon market is voluntary, and there simply isn’t the demand needed to support large scale carbon removal. We need global leadership that understands that geoengineering is required to fix the only planet we have, and that our integrity will be judged on if we achieve the victory condition and nothing else. That leadership exists – I’ve seen it in places like Iceland, Norway, Japan, and Canada. We just need more of it globally, and in the US particularly, if we are going to make a dent.”

A mountain of wood chips

RÚV reports that to date, the company sunk some 19 thousand tonnes of wood chips into Iceland’s coastal waters and that a “mountain” of wood chips, made from imported Canadian lumber, remains at their facility in Akranes. The company began operations in Iceland in 2022, and it is unclear what will happen to this mountain in the wake of the company’s closure.

Kristinn Árni Lár Hróbjartsson, managing director of Running Tide in Iceland, stated to RÚV: “Annually, a significant amount of timbers sinks into the sea on a global scale, and it usually gets trapped there in the deep ocean. This happens naturally. When we talk about carbon sequestration by using biomass such as timber or plants or other materials, for it to be permanent, it needs to go to where it is permanently stored.”

Lack of third-party confirmation

Kristinn Árni stated to RÚV that specialists at Microsoft and Shopify confirmed that Running Tide had sequestered some 25,000 tonnes of carbon on the seafloor. To date, however, no neutral party is reported to have confirmed this.

Kristinn Árni did state to RÚV that all relevant data had been sent to the Environment Agency of Iceland.

What will happen to the mountain of wood chips in Akranes, which is reported to be some 10 metres high, remains to be seen.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!