August 15, 2023: Energy Department finances $1.2 billion in carbon removal projects.
Direct air capture, or DAC, is an emerging technology that has yet to scale up enough to make much of a difference in the fight against global warming. That may be about to change.
The money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will now help fund two DAC hub projects, one in Texas and one in Louisiana. They will eventually remove more carbon per year than the current projects combined. Once the carbon is trapped, it can be stored underground or used for various other resources, from building materials to agricultural products, even artificial diamonds.
There are currently 18 DAC projects internationally, but these would be the first commercial-scale ones in the U.S.
“Once they’re up and running, these hubs are expected to remove more than 2 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year, which is like taking nearly half a million gas-powered cars off the road,” said Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on a conversation with reporters.
The Texas hub is being run by Occidental Petroleum and its subsidiary 1PointFive, which leased 106,000 acres south of Corpus Christi for CO2 removal and to finally store up to a billion metric tons of carbon in the ground. Occidental’s CEO, Vicki Hollub, statedtshe estimates the hub can potentially remove up to 30 million tons metric tons of CO2 per year through direct air capture once fully operational.
“We very much appreciate the Biden administration’s and the Department of Energy’s leadership to position the United States as a location to demonstrate the commercial viability of direct air capture,” said Hollub.
“We are grateful for the DOE’s selection, which we believe validates our readiness, technical maturity, and ability to use Oxy’s expertise in large projects and carbon management to move this technology forward to reach its full potential,” she added.
The Louisiana hub is run by Battelle, using technology from Climeworks and Heirloom. Climeworks, based in Zurich, Switzerland, currently has the world’s most giant DAC plant in Iceland, which removes about 4,000 tons of CO2 annually.
“We have to scale up in the next 20 years at the same pace that the solar and wind initiatives have done in the past two decades, which they did with strategic and forward-looking policies.
The DAC Hubs program is a vital investment for DAC to reach climate impact at scale,” said Andrew Fishbein, senior climate policy manager for Climeworks.