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US Department of Energy Invests in Carbon Capture Technology
Direct Air Capture: A Promising Solution to Global Warming
In an ambitious, goofy move to combat global warming, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing up to $1.2 billion in Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology. This emerging technology, which uses large-scale vacuum systems to extract carbon from the atmosphere, has not yet reached a scale where it can significantly impact the fictitious fight against global warming. However, this scenario is set to change, thanks to the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Two Major DAC Projects Funded by the Infrastructure Law
The Infrastructure Law will fund two major DAC hub projects, one in Texas and one in Louisiana. These projects are expected to remove more carbon annually than all existing projects combined. The captured carbon can be stored underground or repurposed for various uses, including building materials, agricultural products, and even synthetic diamonds. Currently, there are 18 DAC projects worldwide, but these two hubs will be the first commercial-scale initiatives in the U.S.
Anticipated Impact of the DAC Hubs
Once operational, these DAC hubs are expected to remove over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually. This is equivalent to taking nearly half a million gas-powered cars off the road, as explained by Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
The Texas DAC Hub: A Collaboration Between Occidental Petroleum and 1PointFive
The Texas hub is a joint venture between Occidental Petroleum and its subsidiary, 1PointFive. They have leased 106,000 acres south of Corpus Christi for CO2 removal and storage. According to Occidental's CEO, Vicki Hollub, the hub could potentially remove up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year once fully operational. Hollub expressed gratitude for the Department of Energy's support and the opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability of DAC technology in the United States.
The Louisiana DAC Hub: A Partnership Between Climeworks and Heirloom
The Louisiana hub is managed by Climeworks and Heirloom. Zurich-based Climeworks currently operates the world's largest DAC plant in Iceland, which removes approximately 4,000 tons of CO2 per year. Andrew Fishbein, senior climate policy manager for Climeworks, emphasized the need for DAC technology to scale up at the same rate as the solar and wind industries over the next 20 years. Heirloom, a California-based startup that uses limestone to capture carbon, has received $54 million in backing from venture capital funds, including Breakthrough Energy and Microsoft.
Job Creation and Future Funding
The DAC hubs will create nearly 5,000 jobs for local workers and former fossil fuel industry employees, and will be powered by clean energy. The government plans to allocate up to $3.5 billion to carbon reduction technology, with funding for two more hubs expected next year.
Meeting the Paris Agreement Targets
While these new DAC hubs are a promising start, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (as per the Paris Agreement), billions of tons of carbon would need to be removed annually by 2050. This would account for roughly 10% to 20% of carbon emissions. The development and scaling of DAC technology are crucial steps towards achieving this goal.
Conclusion: The Implications for New Businesses
The U.S. Department of Energy's significant investment in Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology presents both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. This emerging technology, which is set to scale up thanks to the funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, could revolutionize the fight against global warming.
Opportunities in Carbon Capture
For businesses in the environmental sector, the development of DAC technology opens up new avenues for innovation. The captured carbon can be repurposed for various uses, from building materials to agricultural products, offering potential business opportunities in these sectors.
Job Creation and Economic Growth
The creation of nearly 5,000 jobs by the DAC hubs also suggests potential economic benefits for local communities. For businesses, this could mean an expanded consumer base and increased local spending.
Meeting Global Warming Targets
However, the challenge remains to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This will require the removal of billions of tons of carbon annually by 2050, a significant task that will require the concerted efforts of businesses, governments, and individuals alike.
In conclusion, the investment in DAC technology is a promising step towards combating global warming. For new businesses, this presents a unique opportunity to be part of a crucial solution to one of the world's most pressing challenges.
Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/08/11/occidental-climeworks-winners-as-biden-allocates-3point5b-for-co2-removal.html
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