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Biden Administration announces 4 carbon dioxide removal infrastructure programs

President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Biden Administration announced today the launch of four infrastructure programs to kickstart the country’s carbon dioxide removal industry.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allots $3.7 billion to the programs, which are supposed to help make the industry commercially viable, just and responsible, a U.S. Department of Energy news release said.

The four Department of Energy programs are the following:

  • The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management announced the Direct Air Capture Commercial and Pre-Commercial Prize. Support and prize awards to promote diverse approaches to direct air capture total $115 million. Up to $15 million in prizes for research and development in breakthrough direct air capture technologies will be available through the Direct Air Capture Pre-Commercial Prize. The Direct Air Capture Commercial Prize provides the remaining funding to direct air capture facilities for capturing CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, with the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, are announcing the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs program. The department will spend $3.5 billion to develop four domestic regional direct air capture hubs. Each will demonstrate a direct air capture technology or suite of technologies at a commercial scale that could capture at least 1 million metric tons of CO2 annually from the atmosphere and store them permanently in a geologic formation or convert them into products. The opportunity announced today makes available more than $1.2 billion to begin the process for conceptualizing, designing, planning, constructing, and operating direct air capture hubs.
  • The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management will manage the Carbon Utilization Procurement Grants Program. States, local governments and public utilities may get a portion of up to $100 million in grant funding to commercialize technologies that reduce carbon emissions and procure and use products developed from captured carbon emissions.

“The overall objective of the planned Funding Opportunity Announcement is support DOE’s current vision of the Carbon Utilization Procurement Grants Program which will illustrate that several incumbent products can be replaced or supplemented with alternatives that are derived from the conversion of anthropogenic carbon oxides, demonstrating that significant net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are possible,” a department notice said. “These grants will illustrate that more sustainable alternatives are viable and will promote the deployment of these products even after the grant ends.”

  • The Office of Technology Transitions, in partnership with the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, will issue a Lab Call to accelerate commercialization of carbon dioxide removal technologies by advancing measurement, reporting, and verification best practices and capabilities. The office plans to award $15 million to projects led by DOE National Laboratories, plants, and sites, and supported by diverse industry partnerships spanning the emerging carbon dioxide removal sector.

These projects support several Biden Administration and Department of Energy initiatives.

Through its Carbon Negative Shot initiative, the department has called for innovation in carbon dioxide removal pathways that will capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it at gigaton scales for less than $100/net metric ton of CO2-equivalent.

The U.S. is part of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Launchpad international coalition that’s committed to accelerating innovation and cost reductions in carbon dioxide removal technologies. Members agree to build at least one 1,000+ ton/year carbon dioxide removal project by 2025, financially support demonstration projects and advance robust measurement, reporting and verification. Since January 2021, DOE has invested more than $250 million in 62 research and development projects and front-end engineering design studies to advance carbon management.

President Joe Biden also seeks a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050.

The department estimated that the Inflation Reduction Act’s impact on the federal Section 45Q tax credit for the capture and geologic storage of CO2, coupled with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 across the economy.

“[The department will help create quality jobs] while ensuring projects prioritize equity and environmental justice in alignment with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to provide 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities,” the department said. “In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these technologies can reduce criteria air pollutants, protect communities from increases in cumulative pollution, and maintain and create good, union-friendly jobs across the country.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said the country needs to reduce pollution in the atmosphere to avoid the worst effects of climate change, regardless of the speed of decarbonization in the U.S. economy.  Carbon pollution is causing significant climate change-related damage through more intense storms, floods, and wildfires, the department said.