The DOE is Funding Direct Air Capture Demonstrations with up to $1.2 Billion 

By Sophia Francise

August 13, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $1.2 billion to advance the development of two commercial-scale direct air capture facilities in Texas and Louisiana as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

These projects—the first of this scale in the United States—represent the initial selections from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs program.

The program aims to kickstart a nationwide network of large-scale carbon removal sites to address legacy carbon dioxide pollution and complement rapid emissions reductions

These emissions are already in the atmosphere, fueling climate change and extreme weather and jeopardizing public health and ecosystems across the globe. 

“Cutting back on our carbon emissions alone won’t reverse the growing impacts of climate change; we also need to remove the CO2 that we’ve already put in the atmosphere—which nearly every climate model makes clear is essential to achieving a net-zero global economy by 2050,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm

The Hubs are expected to ensure meaningful community and labor engagement and contribute to the President’s Justice40 Initiative. 

Together, these projects are expected to remove more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually from the atmosphere and create 4,800 jobs in Texas and Louisiana.

This is the equivalent of the annual emissions from roughly 445,000 gasoline-powered cars.1 

The announcement marks the largest investment in engineered carbon removal in history, with each Hub removing over 250 times more carbon dioxide than the largest DAC facility.

“With this once-in-a-generation investment made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is laying the foundation for a direct air capture industry crucial to tackling climate change—transforming local economies and delivering healthier communities along the way,” said Granholm.

What is Direct Air Capture, and How Does It Achieve Zero-Carbon Economy?

Direct Air Capture(DAC)  is a process that separates CO2 from the air, helping to reduce legacy CO2 in the atmosphere. 

To prevent its emission into the environment, the separated CO2 can either be safely and indefinitely kept underground or transformed into valuable carbon-containing goods like concrete. 

The key to addressing the climate catastrophe and boosting American competitiveness internationally in the post-carbon economy is the widespread adoption of DAC and other cutting-edge technologies that capture emissions. 

According to DOE estimates, between 400 million and 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 will be removed from the atmosphere and captured from emissions sources each year by 2050 to realize President Biden’s ambitious ambition for a net-zero emissions economy. 

Which DAC Hubs have been Selected?

The two selected projects include:  

  • Project Cypress (Calcasieu Parish, LA): The project is being led by Battelle in coordination with Climeworks Corporation and Heirloom Carbon Technologies, Inc.. They aim to capture more than 1 million metric tons of existing CO2 from the atmosphere each year and store it permanently underground. This hub intends to rely on Gulf Coast Sequestration for offtake and geologic storage of captured atmospheric CO2. The project is estimated to create approximately 2,300 jobs to hire workers formerly employed by the fossil fuel industry for 10% of the workforce. Project Cypress will implement a robust two-way communication program with local communities and stakeholders to solicit input into the project while generating new employment opportunities and advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility principles.  
  • South Texas DAC Hub (Kleberg County, TX): The project is being led by 1PointFive, a subsidiary of Occidental, and its partners, Carbon Engineering Ltd. and Worley. They seek to develop and demonstrate a DAC facility to remove up to 1 million metric tons of CO2 annually with an associated saline geologic CO2 storage site. The project is estimated to create approximately 2,500 construction, operations, and maintenance jobs, with existing local hiring agreements. The selectees will establish a Citizen Advisory Board to ensure meaningful community engagement.

In addition two the two, DOE has announced 19 additional projects for award negotiations to support early project development stages, including feasibility assessments and front-end engineering and design (FEED) studies.

Fourteen projects explore potential DAC Hub locations, ownership structures, and business models, while five perform FEED studies to define technical requirements and reduce risk. 

The Department plans to issue additional funding opportunities in the coming years to implement the Regional DAC Hubs mandate from Congress fully. 

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References

  1. Department of Energy, ‘Biden-Harris Administration Announces Up To $1.2 Billion For Nation’s First Direct Air Capture Demonstrations in Texas and Louisiana’, 11 August 2023, https://www.energy.gov/articles/biden-harris-administration-announces-12-billion-nations-first-direct-air-capture[]
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