In a monumental stride towards a greener and more sustainable future, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a groundbreaking initiative under President Biden’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda, earmarking up to $1.2 billion to establish two commercial-scale direct air capture (DAC) facilities in Texas and Louisiana. Representing the foremost selections from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs program, this endeavor aims to inaugurate a network of large-scale carbon removal sites across the United States (US). These sites will not only address the looming threat of historical carbon dioxide pollution but also contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change and fostering a sustainable future for generations to come by curbing carbon emissions.
These projects, slated for development in Texas and Louisiana, are expected to collectively remove over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – a quantity equivalent to the yearly emissions from approximately 445,000 gasoline-powered vehicles. Notably, this groundbreaking announcement secures the world’s most substantial investment in engineered carbon removal in history, underscoring the United States’ unwavering commitment to fighting climate change on a global scale.
This announcement marks the world’s biggest investment in engineered carbon removal. Each DAC Hub will have the capacity to remove over 250 times more carbon dioxide than the current largest DAC facility. This advancement will guide future public and private investments, propelling a vital industry to combat the global climate crisis. Underlining President Biden’s Bidenomics role in spurring economic opportunities, the development positions America as a frontrunner in future industries, advancing the net-zero economy objective by 2050.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm highlighted the significance of these endeavors, commenting, “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. 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.”
The process of direct air capture (DAC) involves the separation of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, presenting an avenue for reducing the concentration of CO2 in the air. This extracted carbon dioxide can then be safely stored underground or converted into valuable carbon-based products, preventing its reentry into the atmosphere. This innovation holds the key to not only curbing carbon emissions but also ensuring the United States remains competitive in the emerging zero-carbon economy. The DOE predicts that to fulfill President Biden’s ambitious net-zero emissions economy vision by 2050, annual removal and capture of between 400 million and 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2 will be necessary. These DAC Hubs are poised to demonstrate the efficacy of large-scale carbon capture and storage.
Project Cypress (Calcasieu Parish, LA): A collaboration between Battelle, Climeworks Corporation, and Heirloom Carbon Technologies, Inc., Project Cypress is poised to capture over 1 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually. This ambitious endeavor will permanently store the captured carbon deep underground, with Gulf Coast Sequestration playing a vital role in the off-take and geological storage process. Project Cypress anticipates the creation of approximately 2,300 jobs, intending to employ workers formerly engaged in the fossil fuel industry for a significant portion of its workforce. The project places a strong emphasis on community engagement and is dedicated to enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility principles.
South Texas DAC Hub (Kleberg County, TX): Spearheaded by 1PointFive, a subsidiary of Occidental, in collaboration with Carbon Engineering Ltd. and Worley, the South Texas DAC Hub endeavors to establish a DAC facility capable of removing up to 1 million metric tons of CO2 annually. With a corresponding saline geologic CO2 storage site, this project is projected to generate around 2,500 jobs across construction, operations, and maintenance. Importantly, the initiative has already established agreements for local hiring, demonstrating a commitment to community engagement and inclusivity.
The DOE’s commitment to ensuring community benefits and avoiding harm is demonstrated by its rigorous oversight of these Regional DAC Hub projects. Additionally, these projects align with the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which strives to allocate 40% of the benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution and neglect.
Paving the Path for a Greener Tomorrow
While the announcement marks a monumental step forward, it is only the beginning. The DOE intends to continue investing in future DAC Hub demonstrations, with 19 additional projects already selected for award negotiations. These projects will contribute to early-stage development and feasibility assessments, propelling the evolution of DAC technology and its integration into the nation’s energy landscape.
The DOE’s vision encompasses broader horizons, with plans to publish various funding opportunities for projects and initiatives focused on carbon dioxide removal technologies. These efforts are integral to the Carbon Negative Shot, a vital facet of the larger Energy Earthshots Initiative. This endeavor seeks to position the United States as a global leader in research, manufacturing, and deployment within the carbon removal industry, with a targeted goal of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it at meaningful scales for less than $100 per net metric ton of CO2-equivalent within the decade.