May 17, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Team Biden doles out carbon storage funding

Photo illustration of Joe Biden holding a carbon molecule.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Energy Department today will announce $251 million to back projects in multiple states for developing or expanding large-scale carbon storage and transport, Ben writes.

Why it matters: Biden officials are keen to speed the deployment of tech that could become a major tool against global warming.

Driving the news: It's the first wave of funding from a pair of programs in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law.

  • The bulk, $242 million, is from the $2.25 billion Carbon Storage Validation and Testing program.
  • The balance goes to engineering studies for large-scale CO2 pipeline networks under the Carbon Capture and Technology program.
  • "DOE is building out the infrastructure needed to slash harmful carbon pollution from industry and the power sector," U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said.

Zoom in: The nine storage projects across seven states include...

  • $33.4M to support site characterization and permitting of two BP storage sites along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  • $32.7M for Colorado School of Mines' work to develop a CO2 storage hub for emissions from cement, hydrogen and power plants.
  • $18M for the Southern States Energy Board for site characterization and permitting for a storage hub in Alabama.
  • $40.5M for the University of Wyoming for work on a "commercial, multi-source, large-scale carbon capture and storage hub" in the state.

What we're watching: Some of the DOE-backed projects are aimed at stashing carbon from power generation, where the tech has been extremely slow to catch on.

  • The viability of CCS is taking on new urgency now that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed plant emissions rules that rest partially on the tech.

Catch up fast: It's part of a wider, roughly $12 billion suite of carbon management and atmospheric removal programs in the infrastructure law.

  • Meanwhile, the 2022 climate law expands tax subsidies for trapping and storing CO2 from industrial facilities.

The intrigue: Oil giants like Exxon are boosting investments in CCS.

  • But critics doubt it will ever significantly slash emissions — especially fast enough to keep Paris Agreement goals within reach.
  • U.S. climate envoy John Kerry tells the AP he's supportive but has "serious questions" about the oil industry's ability to scale it quickly and economically.

The bottom line: The administration is betting on the promise of CCS, but it's too early to know whether it's a winning hand.

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