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DOE Unveils Goal To Remove Gigatons Of Carbon Dioxide From Atmosphere

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Nov. 5 announced the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) new goal to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it for less than $100/ton of net CO2-equivalent.

The “Carbon Negative Shot,” the third target within DOE’s Energy Earthshots Initiative, is the U.S. government’s first major effort in carbon dioxide removal, DOE said.

The Earthshots Initiative aims to accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within the decade.

Carbon dioxide removal is defined as a wide array of approaches that capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere and durably store it in geological, bio-based, and ocean reservoirs or in value-added products to create negative emissions.

DOE said that nearly all climate and energy models that reach net-zero indicate the need for a near-term focus on CO2 removal development and deployment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. By midcentury, carbon dioxide removal will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale, according to DOE.

President Joseph Biden has set a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

Carbon dioxide removal technology “still requires significant investments in research and development to create a cost-effective and economically viable technology that can be deployed at scale and in time to meet the urgent needs of the climate crisis,” it said.

DOE said four performance elements will define the technologies DOE will advance through the Carbon Negative Shot:

  • A reduced cost of carbon dioxide removal of less than $100/net metric ton CO2 equivalent for both capture and storage;
  • A robust accounting of lifecycle emissions (i.e., ensures emissions created when running and building the removal technology are accounted for);
  • High-quality, durable storage with costs demonstrated for monitoring, reporting and verification for at least 100 years; and
  • Enables necessary gigaton-scale removal.

Additional information about the initiative is available here.

Other Earthshots Initiatives

Other Earthshots Initiatives involve hydrogen and long duration energy storage.

In June 2021, DOE launched an effort to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram in one decade.

The following month, Granholm announced DOE’s new goal to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long duration energy storage by 90% within the decade.