An early look at DOE’s vision for DAC hubs

Image: Patrick Perkins

Before we dive in…

The infrastructure deal specifically tasks DOE with selecting, funding, and overseeing the development of four hubs each capable of capturing and then storing or utilizing at least one million metric tons of CO2 per year. It also directs the Department to prioritize projects located in economically-distressed and fossil-energy intensive regions and create high-quality job opportunities. Congress’s statute provided high-level guidance but left enough room for DOE to leverage its internal expertise — that’s where the NOI comes in.

Here’s what stands out

Below are new (and we think noteworthy) insights into DOE’s current strategy for the implementing the hubs program:

Timelines

The NOI signals that the required materials for FOA submission may look different depending on the applicant’s stage in project development. The FOA is likely to offer two tracks: 1) a standard application timeline for hubs still establishing their teams, sites, and technologies, and 2) an accelerated timeline for projects already working on initial permits and engineering studies.

Eligible and Ineligible Technologies

DOE extends funding eligibility to a broad portfolio of carbon removal pathways, including conventional DAC, biomass carbon removal and storage (BiCRS), direct ocean capture, and enhanced mineralization. The NOI also indicates what falls outside their interpretation of the infrastructure law, namely projects that use captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and carbon conversion pathways that lack durable storage options.

Coordination

Applicants are encouraged to coordinate across federal carbon management and clean energy programs, including the Carbon Capture Technology Program, the Carbon Storage Validation and Testing Program, and the Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure Finance, and Innovation (CIFIA) Program. This coordination helps DOE optimize federal dollars and its capacity to connect DAC hub applicants with developers for geologic storage, renewable energy, and carbon utilization projects.

Net-Zero Planning

The NOI indicates that all applicants must provide DOE with their net-zero plans, and specify how their involvement in a proposed hub will support these goals. If carried over in the FOA, this would be the first instance of DOE requiring applicants to elaborate on how proposed funding would support the Department’s internal climate targets.

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