DOE, the US Department of Energy under Joe Biden’s administration, today launched its third Earthshot initiative, aimed at reducing the costs of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The initiative comes as the administration’s plan to fully decarbonize the US economy by 2050.
Firstly, today’s announcement makes the third Earthshot, the first two of them aimed at reducing green hydrogen and long-term utility-scale battery storage costs. The current initiative will seek to drive down costs of carbon capture to $100 per ton by the end of the decade. It would do so either through Direct Air Capture (DAC) or helping forests, and other natural systems capture and store the gas.
Moreover, the US government launched the strategy during COP26, the Glasgow Climate Summit. She said during the presentation. “We have already poisoned the atmosphere; we have to repair and heal the Earth, and the only way to do that is to remove carbon dioxide permanently.”
On the other hand, as we reported previously, there are already big initiatives regarding Direct Air Capture; the largest one being the DAC plant launched by Swiss startup Climeworks AG in Iceland. However, the cost per ton from that facility would reach $600 per ton. In addition, the amount of CO2 captured is equivalent to the emissions of just 2000 cars.
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DOE to have funds for Earthshor from Infrastructure Bill
As a result, the US initiative was praised by the International Energy Agency. Faith Birol, the Agency’s director, said the Earthshot initiative “is an example of how governments can help push down technology costs that energy markets cannot do alone. We need governments to push the magic button of innovation,” he said.
Furthermore, DOE’s initiative will have funds from DOE’s annual appropriations. In addition, the bipartisan infrastructure bill has about $3.5 billion in incentives for DAC demonstration projects. As we reported earlier, the bill has already passed the US Senate, and that the House of Representatives could vote on it as soon as Friday.
Finally, and located in the US, there are other DAC initiatives. Carbon Engineering, a Canada-based company, plans to open a DAC plant in West Texas in 2024. While Microsoft, Occidental, and billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates have all invested in DAC.