On November 5, 2021, Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm announced the latest of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Earthshots1—the “Carbon Negative Shot”—with a new goal to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and durably store it for less than $100/ton of net CO2-equivalent. This represents the first official US effort in carbon dioxide removal (CDR).
According to the DOE’s announcement, “four performance elements will define the technologies DOE will advance through Carbon Negative Shot.” These are stated as:
- A reduced cost of CDR of less than $100/net metric ton CO2 equivalent for both capture and storage;
- A robust accounting of lifecycle emissions (i.e., ensur[ing] 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
- Enabl[ing] necessary gigaton-scale removal.
CDR is defined by the DOE 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.” The announcement also noted that “[n]early all climate and energy models that reach net-zero indicate the need for a near-term focus on CDR development and deployment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Accordingly, the announcement states, “[b]y midcentury, CDR will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale.” The announcement also notes CDR needs “significant investments” in research and development to become 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.”
Subsequently, on November 9, 2021, the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management announced that it aims to fund “cost-shared research and development to accelerate the wide-scale deployment” of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and CDR, saying that these are vital to reaching the Biden administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects will be selected as part of the DOE’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Initiative to develop geologic storage sites that can store a minimum of 50+ million metric tons of CO2.
1 The first Earthshot—Hydrogen Shot—is described in our related June 7, 2021, Legal Update “In Its First ‘Energy Earthshot,’ the US Department of Energy Launches Its ‘Hydrogen Shot’ Initiative.” The second Earthshot— Long-Duration Storage Shot—was announced on July 16, 2021.
2 “To put this in perspective,” says the DOE announcement, “one gigaton of subsurface sequestered CO2 is equivalent to the annual emissions from the U.S. light-duty vehicle fleet—the equivalent of approximately 250 million vehicles driven in one year.”