Mar 25, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Biden admin plans historic $6 billion industrial carbon offensive

Illustration of a collage of giant scissors cutting smoke emitted by industrial smoke stacks.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Energy Department plans to award up to $6 billion across 33 projects to wring carbon dioxide from heavy industries like metals, chemicals, and cement.

Why it matters: It's the "single largest industrial decarbonization investment in American history," DOE boss Jennifer Granholm told reporters.

State of play: The projects are funded largely through the Democrats' 2022 climate law, with some cash from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, too.

  • They would together provide yearly emissions cuts that match the annual CO2 output of 3 million gasoline-powered cars, the agency estimates.
  • It's a federal cost-share with companies, so officials see over $20 billion in total investment.
  • Monday's announcement also touts efforts to use union labor and tackle environmental justice — both key Democratic policy priorities.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, by major sector
Data: Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Making heavy industries climate-friendly is a tough nut to crack, as these sectors often need massive energy inputs and extremely high heat.

  • And unlike the electricity system, a similarly large CO2 source, solutions are often lacking at commercial scale.

Zoom in: Examples of the 33 projects include:

  • Converting a Constellium aluminum plant in West Virginia to use furnaces that can run on cleaner fuels including hydrogen.
  • Installing a CO2 capture and storage system at a Heidelberg Materials cement plant in Indiana.
  • Slashing process heat emissions from Kraft Heinz facilities in nine states by using various electrification technologies.

Yes, but: These are initial decisions subject to more grant negotiations.

  • And if funded, a project faces "go/no-go" decision points at various phases, where the agency weighs progress and community benefits.

What's next: Officials hope this spurs use of cleaner tech in these industries more widely — in the U.S. and worldwide.

  • "The solutions that we are funding are replicable, and they're scalable," Granholm said.
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