The United States wants to remove billions of tons of CO2 from the air every year

Reducing global carbon emissions can go a long way in reducing the impact of climate change, although it may not be enough.

In an attempt to reverse the situation amid dire scientific predictions, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced ambitious new plans to accelerate the development of carbon capture technologies. report from On the edge explains.

The move comes in the form of a new initiative called Carbon Negative Shot, which aims to scale up carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and make them cost-effective.

DOE aims to extract the gigaton CO2 from the atmosphere

The initiative, which was announced on US Department of Energy website, aims to reduce the cost of CDR to less than $ 100 per tonne. This would mean that it could be used to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere without being too expensive. Elimination of billion tons – or gigaton – carbon dioxide would be equivalent to removing pollution from about 250 million vehicles in a year, the US Department of Energy said in a statement.

To achieve this lofty goal, DOE will need to significantly improve the technology over existing – and suggested – carbon removal plants. The largest in the world installation for direct air capture, called Orca, came into operation in Iceland this year. It is currently able to extract 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, which lags far behind the figures cited for the new initiative.

Another plant, under construction in Scotland as part of cooperation with UK energy transition company Storegga Geotechnologies and Canadian carbon capture technology company Carbon Engineering will eventually capture up to 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year, according to the two companies.

“We need to do more than just reduce emissions”

All of this stems from the fact that the latest models suggest that we are running out of time quickly to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The latest from the IPCC climate change report, for example, pointed to the fact that the Earth breaks 125,000-year-old heat records.

Several scientists now argue that carbon capture technologies will have to work hand in hand with initiatives aimed at drastically reducing carbon emissions. As the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently pointed out. on his website, “to achieve net zero emissions, we need to do more than just reduce our emissions: we need to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or offset its effects.”

One problem facing DOE with its initiative is the large amount of energy needed to extract such huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. If not carefully planned, carbon removal technologies could actually contribute to the problem they are designed to improve. As such, the DOE said in a statement that it aimed to make sure that “emissions generated during the operation and construction of the removal technology shall be taken into account. “This is just one of the challenges it faces on its way to making the technology feasible on the huge scale required.

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