Today, the Department of Energy released its fourth Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, focused on carbon management, on the heels of last month’s launch of the Liftoff effort and the release of its first three reports focused on clean hydrogen, advanced nuclear, and long duration energy storage.
Today, the United States leads the world in carbon management deployment, with over 20 million tonnes of CO2 per annum (MTPA) of carbon capture capacity. But this is just 1 to 5 percent of what could be needed by 2050: the U.S. will likely need to capture and permanently store approximately 400 to 1,800 MTPA to meet its net-zero commitments by 2050. This scale-up represents a massive investment opportunity of up to approximately $100 billion by 2030 and $600 billion by 2050.
A portfolio of carbon management technologies for a suite of applications are commercially mature and ready to deploy today. There are several dozen commercial-scale carbon management projects currently in operation and well over a hundred in stages of project development. The report discusses the whole carbon management ecosystem, including point-source carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and carbon dioxide removal technologies (CDR).
As the report lays out, industry is poised to allocate billions of dollars in capital towards carbon management technologies, driven by industries with attractive economics for CCUS, like ethanol, natural gas processing, ammonia, as well as other large integrated projects. This is enabled by the current supportive policy framework, partly based on recent changes from the Inflation Reduction Act. The United States also has excellent storage geology and relatively abundant low-cost zero-carbon energy resources that can power CDR projects.
The report also discusses the real but solvable barriers to carbon management technology deployment at scale. These include breaking through near-term bottlenecks in transport and storage, including permitting, siting, and community buy-in; long-term revenue certainty; challenging project economics in hard to decarbonize sectors such as cement, steel, refining, and chemicals, and other barriers.
The Liftoff reports provide the private sector and other industry partners a valuable, engagement-driven resource on how and when certain technologies can reach full scale deployment. The new initiative underscores the critical role that DOE plays in enabling widespread commercial adoption of the clean energy technologies that are essential to meeting President Biden’s ambitious goals of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Given the constantly and rapidly evolving market, technology, and policy environment as well as community needs and concerns, the Liftoff reports are designed to be “living documents,” and will be updated as the commercialization outlook on each technology evolves. DOE will continue to solicit input through industry forums, requests for information, and regular interactions across industry, investors, and other stakeholders to help inform decisions. DOE also encourages direct public input, which can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pathways to Commercial Liftoff reports were developed through extensive stakeholder engagement and a combination of system-level modeling and project-level financial modeling. Additional reports will be added in the coming months.