US kicks off $3.5 billion carbon capture project

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced Thursday a $3.5 billion plan to establish carbon capture centers to remove carbon from the atmosphere across the country.

Greenhouse gases are one of the main contributors to man-made climate change. Carbon capture technology seeks to remove carbon from the air and hopefully reduce CO2 emission levels each year. The United States is one of the world’s largest emitters and is a major contributor to global warming.

The DOE’s plan calls for four centers across the country to begin the effort. The plan is in line with the goals of President Joe Biden. Its goals put the US on a path to a net-zero economy by 2050.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act is funding new technologies that will not only make our carbon-free future a reality, but will help position America.

The technology seeks to capture emissions in the atmosphere and place them underground. It can also convert emissions into durable products like concrete. Depending on the type of CO2 capture used, the technology prevents carbon from entering the atmosphere. It could also capture carbon directly from the atmosphere.

The DOE estimates that the US will need to implement gigaton-scale CO2 removal. One gigaton of CO2 removed is equal to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from 250 million US light-duty vehicles per year.

The centers the DOE builds alone will have the power to permanently capture and store one million metric tons of CO2 per year. This means that upgrades and additional funding will be necessary to get to one gigaton.

There are also questions about how practical carbon capture is due to the amount of energy required to do so. Some also fear that focusing on carbon capture will allow those who release it into the atmosphere to continue doing so. Ideally, these businesses should transition to clean, renewable energy options like solar or wind.

“Fossil fuel CCS is a distraction from the growth of renewable energy, storage and energy efficiency that will be critical to rapidly reducing emissions over the next decade,” according to a report last year by Friends of the Earth and Global Witness. .

“There is huge potential for direct carbon capture technology as part of a diverse climate plan,” Tom Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Global Ecosystem Ecology at ETH Zürich, told CNBC.

However, carbon capture is also expensive at the moment. If the price of releasing it into the air is higher than the price of capturing it, then there is an incentive. Something like a carbon tax would drive that price higher and thus incentivize companies to invest.

“If you start looking at carbon prices now and it’s priced pretty high, that will make it more affordable to go to higher capture rates,” said Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative. (MIT). MIT weather.

The costs of technology also hinder innovation in the industry. Many companies offering carbon capture technologies are more interested in profit than innovation.




Photo: AFP/INA FASSBENDER

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