US pours $3.5 billion into direct air capture hubs for carbon removal
As part of its ambitions to move to a net-zero economy by 2050, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has been ramping up its plans to facilitate removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and drive down the cost of the technology required to do so. These efforts are set to receive a massive cash injection, with the Biden administration announcing US$3.5 billion in funding for a set of regional direct air capture hubs.
The announcement follows a string of far smaller investments that began with $22 million in 2020 and a further $24 million last year, designed to accelerate research into carbon capture technology. As part of the the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden in November last year, the the DOE also announced its Carbon Negative Shot initiative. This is centered on deploying carbon capture technologies on a gigaton scale by 2050, by driving down the cost of carbon capture and storage to $100 per ton.
A gigaton is equivalent to one billion metric tons, and to put things into perspective, the world's largest direct air capture plant currently collects around 4,000 tons of CO2 each year. Humans pump out around 30 billion tons each year, while a single gigaton is about the amount generated annually by the US's entire light-duty vehicle fleet.
The DOE has today released a Notice of Intent, which acts as a kind of high-level draft ahead of an official funding opportunity announcement later in the year. The $3.5 billion in funding will go towards hubs that will act as regional centers for direct air capture projects, with applicants needing to demonstrate an ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it. The DOE expects each of these hubs to permanently sequester a million metric tons of CO2 each year.
“The UN's latest climate report made clear that removing legacy carbon pollution from the air through direct air capture and safely storing it is an essential weapon in our fight against the climate crisis,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding new technologies that will not only make our carbon-free future a reality but will help position the US as a net-zero leader while creating good-paying jobs for a transitioning clean energy workforce.”
Source: US Department of Energy