DOE offers up $100 million for carbon removal pilots

The agency is now soliciting proposals for emerging tech pilots.

February 12, 2024
A biomass carbon removal facility.

A biomass carbon removal facility. Photo credit: Jens Büttner / picture alliance via Getty Images

The Department of Energy issued today a funding opportunity announcement for emerging carbon removal technologies, which falls under the agency’s broader Carbon Negative Shot goal.

  • The top line: DOE will grant up to $100 million across 20 possible awards to applicants working with novel — and less-discussed than direct air capture — forms of CDR. The awards will fund pilots that, the department hopes, will ultimately drive down the cost of removal and ramp up a commercially viable scale.
  • The market grounding: The department has committed to issue multiple funding opportunities to help CDR commercialize, and set a target of deploying a gigaton of removal at less than $100 per ton by 2032 (which complements the IPCC goal of 10 gigatons of removal by 2050). Today though, most experts agree progress on that goal has been minimal.
  • The current take: “The important thing to note here is that DOE is prioritizing approaches beyond [direct air capture,]” said Giana Amador, executive director of the Carbon Removal Alliance. “With DAC prizes and DAC hubs, that segment has significant support — it’s great to see a cross section of emerging CDR approaches coming into the fold.” 

As compared with other CDR pathways, DAC has received significant focus from both the public and private sectors. However, research suggests that lower-tech pathways, like those prioritized by today’s FOA may have a larger role to play in achieving net-zero goals.

This latest FOA targets small biomass carbon removal and storage and enhanced mineralization, as well as methods of simultaneously testing and integrating multiple carbon removal pathways.

The department also mentioned an interest in ocean-based removal methods, but integrated marine CDR pilot projects were left out of this round of funding. The agency said it anticipates soliciting ocean-based removal applications under future amendments to the funding announcement.

DOE funding for non-DAC technologies is critical, said Amador, because many carbon removal companies struggle to raise capital for first-of-a-kind projects.

“This funding will unlock demonstrations across the county, and if they’re done right — with the highest standards for permanence, measurability, and community engagement — they’ll support innovation, drive down costs, and help bring carbon removal to scale,” she added.

To be considered for funding, all proposed pilots must be located in the United States and be designed to remove at least 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Companies must have successfully completed a total system validation.

Award recipients will be notified in August, DOE said, and funding will be dispersed in January 2025.

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