Jan 31, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Researcher floats pairing offshore wind with carbon removal tech

Three of Deepwater Wind's five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation's first offshore wind farm.
Three wind turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I., in August 2016. Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP

A Columbia University researcher says pairing offshore wind with nascent tech that directly pulls carbon from the atmosphere could help maximize the benefits of both.

The big picture: Marine geophysicist David Goldberg, writing in The Conversation, says co-locating direct air capture (DAC) systems with offshore wind would ensure the systems are powered by clean energy.

  • The captured CO2 could be piped directly into subsea geologic storage, "reducing the need for extensive pipeline systems," which also reduces the environmental impact.

Why it matters: He's floating the concept as developers are planning a suite of Atlantic Coast wind projects and the Biden administration targets 30 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2030.

  • Goldberg argues it's worth planning for co-location — such as doing surveying work for marine CO2 storage — to save time and costs.

What we're watching: If offshore wind and DAC could ever be two great tastes that taste great together.

Noah Deich, president of Carbon180, tells Axios that ideas of offshore geologic CO2 storage and powering atmospheric removal with renewables are both "gaining significant traction."

  • But Deich, whose nonprofit advocates a range of removal methods, isn't aware of DAC projects that plan to use offshore storage or wind.
  • A challenge, he said via email, would be powering a combined offshore wind-DAC facility when there isn't surplus wind because DAC economics assume very high utilization rates.

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