US Department of Energy wants to dramatically reduce the cost of carbon capture technology

It's an ambitious target.

Todd Korol / reuters

The US Department of Energy wants to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology. On Friday, the agency announced a program called Carbon Negative Shot. Part of its Energy Earthshots initiative, the goal here is to foster the development of carbon capture technology that can sequester CO2 at a cost of less than $100 per ton, and can be deployed at the gigaton scale. To put that in perspective, that much carbon is equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 250 million cars.

“By slashing the costs and accelerating the deployment of carbon dioxide removal — a crucial clean energy technology — we can take massive amounts of carbon pollution directly from the air and combat the climate crisis,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With our Carbon Negative Shot, we can help remove the greenhouse gases already warming our planet and affecting our health — positioning America as a net-zero leader and creating good-paying jobs for a transitioning clean energy workforce.”

If it wasn’t clear already, the Energy Department has set an ambitious target. In September, Orca, the largest direct carbon capture facility ever, opened in Iceland. The plant will capture 4,000 tons of CO2 per year at a cost of about $600 per ton for bulk purchases. Chimeworks, the company that operates Orca, aims to reduce the cost to $300 or less per ton by 2030. That’s a long way away from the Energy Department’s goal of less than $100 per ton, but sustained and substantial support and investment from the government is exactly what could make that happen.