To avoid the worst outcomes from climate change and achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, the rapid deployment of all available abatement technologies is essential. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is critical to this effort in four distinct ways: CCUS can eliminate emissions from existing energy assets; tackle emissions in hard to abate sectors; support cost-effective clean hydrogen production; and remove carbon from the atmosphere that cannot be directly avoided. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) is prepared to help drive the industry’s commercial deployment of CCUS technologies to leverage their climate benefits in the pursuit of carbon neutrality.
LPO finances next-generation U.S. energy infrastructure, serving as a bridge to bankability for breakthrough projects and technologies and de-risking them at early stages of investment so they can be developed at commercial scale and achieve market acceptance.
CCUS is comprised of multiple technologies at varying levels of commercial readiness. According to the International Energy Agency, several technologies in CO2 capture, utilization, and storage are already deployed at large scale but others, including those that offer the promise of better performance and lower unit costs, require further development and deployment assistance. LPO may be able to support technology deployment across a number of milestones to bankability.
In the near term, LPO may be able to help further deploy projects that make meaningful and important improvements in productivity or value of these technologies. This could include projects utilizing post-combustion technologies – capturing CO2 from exhaust – to be deployed at existing facilities that feature fossil fuel combustion such as coal-fired power plants. Pre-combustion technologies – capturing CO2 from syngas before it’s utilized – have also been commercially deployed and are available to be implemented in new gasification projects over the next decade. Some other CCUS examples that are similarly positioned in the development timeline include hydrogen production from natural gas and compression of CO2 from bioethanol production and coal-to-chemicals plants.
Technologies currently at the early adoption stage can potentially utilize LPO’s resources to improve upon demonstration scale deployments, establish a record of success at the commercial scale through a first-of-a-kind deployment, and move down the cost curve. Oxy-combustion – using enriched air with pure oxygen to reduce fuel consumption and dangerous emissions – for example, has the potential to be implemented in new power generation projects deploying novel combustion chambers and CO2 turbines. Another example in this stage is direct air capture (DAC), which is supported by the recently announced Carbon Negative Shot – the Administration’s call to mobilize CO2 removal technologies at greatly reduced costs relative to today. DAC can remove CO2 released into the atmosphere through the processes that are most difficult to decarbonize and release significant emissions, including hydrogen production and the cement, steel, and chemicals sectors.
Once the CO2 is captured, it is then either stored deep underground in geologic formations like saline formations and oil and natural gas reservoirs, or is utilized in technologies that store CO2 in building materials like cement and other utilization processes that permanently sequester the CO2. According to a study conducted by LPO’s Environmental Compliance Division in conjunction with DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, CO2 injection and storage processes are broadly regarded as a safe endeavor if they are properly managed, and thus LPO may be able to support CO2 storage projects at commercial scale. Additionally, LPO may be able to help further deploy the transportation of captured CO2 via pipeline infrastructure that would enable greater utilization of CO2.
Each of these CCUS technologies must play their distinct roles in tackling emissions from existing infrastructure, providing a cost-effective pathway for clean hydrogen production, targeting difficult to decarbonize industries, and directly removing CO2 from the atmosphere. LPO, with the support of the entire DOE, recognizes the important role that CCUS plays in our journey to net-zero and may be able to provide financing for innovative CCUS projects.
How LPO Can Help
DOE’s vast institutional experience in CCUS research and development, demonstrations, technical risk evaluation, and permitting leads directly to LPO as a partner for first-of-a-kind deployment of CCUS projects in the US. With full Environmental Compliance and Technical and Project Management teams on staff, backed by the scientists and engineers across DOE and the national labs, LPO is uniquely positioned to understand the application of innovative CCUS technologies in commercial projects.
LPO’s Title 17 Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program (Title 17) may be able to provide access to debt capital to support the domestic deployment of CCUS projects that meet programmatic requirements – including use of innovative technology and the avoidance, reduction, or sequestration of greenhouse gas emissions – specifically through the open Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation.
Federally recognized tribes or tribal economic development organizations may be able to access partial loan guarantees from LPO projects using more commercially available CCUS technologies through the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program.
To learn more about how LPO could help to support your U.S. CCUS project or to engage with LPO staff for pre-application consultations, please email LPO@hq.doe.gov. Please provide a brief description of the project, estimated costs and timeline, and location. During the consultations, LPO will work with the applicant to determine whether its CCUS technology project is eligible for a loan guarantee.
CCUS has a vital role to play in helping to achieve our nation’s climate goals. Let LPO partner with you to make your innovative project a reality.
This blog post is part of a series highlighting some of the technology sectors eligible for support from the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office. Learn more about LPO and its loan eligibility requirements at energy.gov/lpo.
Contributors: Guido DeHoratiis and Kennedy Nickerson