The Department of Energy (DOE) just launched a new $3.5 billion program to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it away. The program focuses on developing four “hubs” across the country focused on direct air capture, the technology that draws CO2 out of the air.
Each of the hubs is ultimately supposed to be able to capture and store at least a million metric tons of CO2. That’s a massive endeavor. Currently, all the direct air capture facilities in the world only have the capacity to capture about 0.01 million metric tons of CO2.
Today, the DOE filed a Notice of Intent — a kind of official “heads-up” — that says that they’ll be making a funding announcement related to those hubs “in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2022.” At that point, companies can apply for funds to develop projects that will “contribute to the development” of those hubs.The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last year and is supposed to be deployed between 2022 and 2026. The Biden administration is billing this effort as part of its plan to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent this decade compared to 2005 pollution levels.
For projects to be eligible for the funding, they have to meet certain criteria. They need to be able to permanently store the CO2, rather than using it in products like fizzy drinks. That ensures that the greenhouse gas doesn’t quickly wind up in the atmosphere again. The DOE is also barring any projects that would use the captured CO2 to produce more fossil fuels. That excludes the oil and gas industry’s “enhanced oil recovery,” a technique that involves shooting captured carbon dioxideinto the ground to force out hard-to-reach oil reserves.
The exact locations of the h …