The hub could potentially remove more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, or the equivalent of eliminating 220,000 gasoline vehicles on the road annually.
Direct air capture.
Image: ClimeworksThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded up to $11.8 million in funding to a consortium or organizations, including utility Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), which is looking to build California’s first full-scale direct air capture and storage network of hubs.
This funding will be used to study a regional carbon management hub in California’s Kern County, following which the consortium plans to build similar facilities in other parts of the state. The group includes nearly 40 organizations, including representatives from industry, government, technology, and labor and workforce development.
The hub could be able to remove more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, or the equivalent of eliminating 220,000 gasoline vehicles on the road annually. In addition to bringing California closer to its climate goals, each hub could also provide high-paying and permanent jobs and workforce development programs, according to Carbon TerraVault Holdings, a subsidiary of the California Resources Corporation, which assembled the consortium.
The timeline for getting the hub operational will depend on the timing of further DOE funding for the development and construction stages, Richard Venn, a spokesperson for the California Resources Corporation, told pv magazine USA.
The direct air capture industry is in an early stage and provides a tremendous opportunity for many states and regions to invest in a new clean technology industry that will remove carbon dioxide from the air and deliver significant co-benefits to local communities, Venn added.
“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon removal methods such as DAC are key to mitigation pathways aimed at keeping global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Venn.
Direct air capture technology involves separating carbon dioxide from the air, and either storing it underground permanently or using it in products that contain carbon, like concrete. At least 27 direct air capture plants have been commissioned worldwide, and plans for another 130 facilities are at various stages of development, according to the International Energy Agency.
The California funding is part of a larger DOE effort to invest in engineered carbon removal. Last week the agency announced up to $1.2 billion in funding to develop two commercial-scale direct air capture facilities in Texas and Louisiana, which are collectively expected to remove more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere every year.
The DOE’s investment lays the foundation for a direct air capture industry that will be crucial to tackling climate change, according to Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy.
“Cutting back on our carbon emissions alone won’t reverse the growing impacts of climate change; we also need to remove the CO2 that we’ve already put in the atmosphere…” said Granholm.
The DOE also selected 19 additional projects – including the California hub – to support the earlier stages of project development, such as feasibility assessments.
“Our research has shown that carbon management, when combined with electrification and clean fuels, delivers the most affordable, resilient and technologically proven path to full carbon neutrality,” said Maryam Brown, president of SoCalGas. The utility’s role in the project includes a front-end engineering design study on transporting the captured carbon to permanent storage.
The DOE funding will be used in 2024 to conduct studies on the planned facilities in Kern County, Carbon TerraVault said. The consortium could begin developing and constructing the facility in 2025, and plans to put out additional funding requests next year as well.
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