The US Department of Energy outlined the first steps toward providing $2.5 billion for carbon capture technology as part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
The carbon capture technique removes carbon dioxide from an emission source or the atmosphere at large. The technology is still in its early stages.
Some critics assert that investing in sustainable energy infrastructure is a better decision. But on the other hand, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm believes there’s a foothold for both.
“Certainly, our first preference is to ensure that we are powered by clean, zero carbon-emitting energy. And we’re doing all of that. But you can walk and chew gum,” Granholm said in an interview on Thursday.
Granholm is aware of the controversy over carbon capture technological means. According to skeptics, polluting firms primarily use it to postpone emission reductions.
“There’s criticism that something like this — carbon capture and sequestration — merely prolongs assets that the fossil [fuel] industry would be using,” Granholm said.
“I will say this: Anything we can do to decarbonize is a good thing.”
Carbon capture technology will be critical to balancing many sectors of the economy, including heavy industrial, steel, and cement production, Granholm said. She also remarked that fossil fuels would continue to be a part of the global energy infrastructure for some time.
“We have a goal of net-zero by 2050. And you know, the IPCC has said that fossil fuels will be around during this transition,” Granholm said. “So we’ve got to start now in these technologies.”
Since carbon capture technology is costly to run, the Department of Energy’s Carbon Negative Shot, or Earthshot program aims to reduce carbon removal technology cost. However, some investors believe that a carbon price must be set up for carbon capture technology to develop and increase efficiently.
In the United States, the 45Q tax credit is the best alternative for financial incentives. It pays $35 per ton for carbon dioxide, or carbon monoxide kept in oil recovery projects and up to $50 per ton for gases held in geologic formations.
However, Granholm is content to rely on the private sector to help grow this market for the time being.
“In America, we have historically allowed the free market to make these decisions, but other countries have, with their state-owned enterprises and their subsidies, partnered or gone in and said, we are going to take control as a government and make sure we make us more competitive. That’s what China does. That’s what other countries do. Well, we don’t do that in America,” she said.
“But what we do is create public-private partnerships and invest in early-stage technology to help bring down those costs through scale.”