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Carbon dioxide removal encompasses a wide array of approaches that capture carbon dioxide (CO2) that is already in the atmosphere or ocean. The CO2can then be stored in geological, biobased, and ocean reservoirs or in value-added products. For example, it can be stored in low-carbon concrete and natural sinks such as forests, soils, wetlands, and oceans to create negative emissions (i.e., when more carbon is removed from the atmosphere or ocean than is generated by its removal).
Several climate models, including those produced by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, show that reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere from the industrial, power, and transportation sectors alone is not enough to combat climate change. Why? Because reducing emissions doesn’t address the trillions of tons of CO2 already in our atmosphere, caused by planet-heating pollution that has been accumulating since the industrial age.
So, as we continue to deploy clean energy technologies to create the decarbonized energy and industrial system of the future, we will need carbon dioxide removal to counterbalance emissions from hard-to-abate sectors such as agriculture and shipping so that ultimately, we can remove legacy CO2 emissions from the atmosphere once we reach the Biden-Harris Administration's net-zero goals.
But it’s important to understand the scale that’s required for a carbon dioxide removal industry to have the intended climate impact. By 2050, we need to be removing gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere and/or oceans. To put this into perspective, one gigaton of CO2 is equivalent to approximately one-fifth of the United States’ annual CO2 emissions in 2022.
To advance the development of this emerging but necessary industry, the U.S. Department of Energy launched Carbon Negative Shot—an all-hands-on-deck call for innovation in carbon dioxide removal pathways that will capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it at gigaton scales for less than $100/net metric ton of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
The Carbon Negative Shot requires the investment of funding and resources to enable the scale-up of multiple carbon dioxide removal approaches in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Below are the pathways that DOE has focused on to date:
Carbon Dioxide Removal Pathways
Achieving the Carbon Negative Shot goal will help spur innovation and position U.S. enterprises as leaders in research, manufacturing, and deployment in a carbon dioxide removal industry that must have a rapid, global ramp-up by mid-century.
It will also position America to lead the way to net-zero on a global scale, eventually remove legacy greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, create good-paying job opportunities that build on the skillsets of the fossil fuel workforce, and prioritize community needs.
As a driver for this necessary and emerging industry, Carbon Negative Shot prioritizes information sharing and engagement with communities that could participate in or be affected by carbon dioxide removal, including environmental and climate organizations, tribal nations, labor groups, industry, and academia. Carbon Negative Shot also supports a whole-of-government approach and seeks alignment in federal, state, and local areas.
Contributing DOE Offices
The Carbon Management Office focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on direct air capture and storage and mineralization.
The Bioenergy Technologies Office focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on increasing carbon removal from biomass and improving the productivity of algal biomass.
The Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on improving the feasibility of direct air capture sorbents.
The Water Power Technologies Office focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on using the ocean to remove carbon dioxide.
The Basic Energy Sciences program focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on fundamental materials and chemical sciences to enable innovative energy-efficient carbon capture from dilute sources and conversion for durable storage or into products.
The Biological and Environmental Research program focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on converting carbon dioxide and its waste streams into byproducts, as well as carbon removal and storage into biomass and soil.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on high-potential, high-impact energy projects that are too risky to attract private sector investment, but could significantly advance the ways to generate, store, distribute and use energy.
The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations focuses its carbon dioxide removal efforts on carbon removal demonstration projects at scale in partnership with the private sector to accelerate deployment, market adoption, and the equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system.
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On November 21, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The infrastructure deal includes more than $62 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to deliver a more equitable clean energy future for the American people by investing in American manufacturing and workers; expanding access to energy efficiency and clean energy for families, communities, and businesses; delivering reliable, clean, and affordable power to more Americans; and building the technologies of tomorrow through clean energy demonstrations. It also specifically includes historic investments in carbon management, both to mitigate and remove carbon dioxide emissions.
As a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE will deploy approximately $12 billion in new carbon management funding over five years, largely for direct air capture and carbon capture, transport, and storage.
Read the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Opportunities to Accelerate Deployment in Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Activities fact sheet to see the funding breakdowns.
On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This landmark legislation makes a historic commitment to climate action that will drive innovation and deployment of clean energy, industrial and manufacturing technologies, and infrastructure to put our nation on track to meet the President’s ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050, while investing in communities and American workers.
The IRA features a comprehensive package of clean energy and industrial tax credits, including the most ambitious incentives in the world to date for the deployment of carbon management technologies, such as carbon capture, direct air capture, and the conversion of captured carbon emissions into useful products.
Substantial improvements to the federal 45Q tax credit include increased credit values to $85 per ton of carbon oxide captured and stored from industrial facilities and power plants and $180 per ton for direct air capture facilities, an extension of the credit to a full ten years, the ability to claim the credit directly as a cash payment, and expanded eligibility for smaller direct air capture, industrial, and power generation facilities.
- Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s Funding Opportunities
- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Funding Opportunities
- Office of Science’s Funding Opportunities
- Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s Funding Opportunities
- Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations' Funding Opportunities
- National Risk Assessment Partnership
- An Interactive Diagram for Carbon Management Provisions
- Direct Air Capture 101 (2022)
- Carbon Storage Atlas (2015)
- Carbon Dioxide Removal (2023)
- Carbon Dioxide Removal Program (2023)
- Carbon Negative Shot (2022)
- Foundational Science for Carbon Dioxide Removal Technologies (2022)
- DOE Explains the Carbon Cycle
- Best Practices for Life Cycle Assessment of Direct Air Capture with Storage (2022)
- Carbon Transport and Storage R&D Priorities for Repurposing Infrastructure (2022)
- Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Strategic Vision (2022)
- Rules and Tools Crosswalk: A Compendium of Computational Tools to Support Geologic Carbon Storage Environmentally Protective UIC Class VI Permitting (2022)
- Best Practices: Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA) for Geologic Storage Projects (2017)
- Basic Research Needs for Carbon Capture: Beyond 2020 (2010)
- Carbon Cycling and Biosequestration, Integrating Biology and Climate through Systems Science (2008)
Fact Sheets and Infographics
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, What Is Carbon Dioxide Removal (2022)
- GCCSI, Carbon Dioxide Removal Approaches (2021)
- United States Executive Office of the President, The Long-Term Strategy of the United States: Pathways to Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 (2021)
- IEA, CO2 Capture and Utilisation (2022)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), AR6 Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change (2022)
- Carbon Dioxide Removal Mission, Carbon Dioxide Removal Technology Roadmap: Innovation Gaps and Landscape Analysis (2022)
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, A Research Strategy for Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal and Sequestration (2022)
- Ocean Visions, Macroalgae Cultivation & Sinking for Carbon Sequestration (2022)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy: 90-Day Progress Report (2021)
- Aspen Institute, Guidance for Ocean based Carbon Dioxide Projects Report (2021)
- Bipartisan Policy Center, The Business Case for Direct Air Capture (2021)
- OSTI, Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage (BiRCS) Roadmap (2021)
- Progress in Energy, A review of direct air capture (DAC): scaling up commercial technologies and innovating for the future (2021)
- Wilcox, Freeman, Kolosz, CDR Primer (2020)
- Carnegie Mellon University, Real Time Decision Making for the Subsurface (2019)
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration (2019)
- Oakridge National Laboratory, MODIS and VIIRS Land Products Global Subsetting and Visualization Tool (2018)
- Sanderman, Jonathan, Global Mangrove Soil Carbon: Dataset and Spatial Maps (2017)
Other DOE Carbon Dioxide Removal Efforts
Carbon Dioxide Removal Launchpad
As a co-lead of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Launchpad, DOE and a coalition of countries, including Canada, the European Commission, Iceland, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom, are working to reduce the costs and accelerate the development of carbon dioxide removal technologies. Members of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Launchpad agreed to build at least one 1,000+ ton/year carbon dioxide removal project by 2025, contribute to a collective $100 million investment for demonstration projects by 2025, and support efforts to advance measurement, reporting, and verification.
Visit DOE’s website to learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Earthshot Initiatives.