On February 12, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced that it will award up to $100 million to support U.S. pilot projects and testing facilities demonstrating and scaling carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.  The funding will support projects and facilities that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere and store it in geological, bio-based, or ocean reservoirs, or that convert the captured CO2 into value-added products.  The funding is intended to support the development of a commercially viable U.S. CDR industry, in advancement of the goal of DOE’s Carbon Negative Shot of reducing the cost of capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it at gigaton scales to less than $100 per net metric ton of CO2-equivalent by 2032.  The funding is a significant opportunity for developers and investors in CDR ventures that are prepared to deploy a pilot project in an area of interest for DOE.

Areas of Interest

The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) lists three areas of interests that DOE will support with the funding: (1) Small Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage (BiCRS) Pilots, (2) Small Mineralization Pilots and (3) Multi-Pathways CDR Testbed Facilities.  The FOA projects that DOE will award $35 million to Small BiCRS Pilots, $40 million to Small Mineralization Pilots and $25 million to Multi-Pathways CDR Testbed Facilities. With respect to BiCRS and Small Mineralization Pilots, applicants must have already successfully completed an integrated, bench-scale validation of the proposed technology. In addition, Multi-Pathways CDR Testbed Facility applicants must show a controlling interest in an existing CDR facility.  Each of the areas of interest is further discussed below.

  • Small BiCRS Pilots — BiCRS Pilots will investigate and validate various biomass-based CDR and storage pathways, including but not limited to: pyrolysis, gasification, bioliquid injection, and alternative conversion or storage methods, such as engineered wood products and biofiber entombment. These pathways may include coproducts, such as hydrogen, liquid transportation fuels, and electricity.  BiCRS feedstocks must be sustainably produced and not interfere with food crops, other land uses, or water resources and minimize ecological impact.  BiCRS Pilots must have a CDR and storage design capacity at least 1,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year, and the successful applicants will test their respective pilots for at least 500 hours of continuous operation.
  • Small Mineralization Pilots — Small Mineralization Pilots will demonstrate the potential to utilize alkaline materials and accelerated weathering techniques to hasten the rate of CDR and storage in ex-situ (i.e., high-pressure mineralization) or surficial (i.e., enhanced weathering) contexts. The FOA notes that, in addition to other benefits, DOE is particularly interested in pilots that have the ability to co-optimize enhanced carbon mineralization and the extraction of critical minerals.  Small Mineralization Pilots must have a CDR and storage capacity of at least 1,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year, and the successful applicants will test their respective pilots for at least 1,000 hours of continuous operation.
  • Multi-Pathways CDR Testbed Facilities —Multi-Pathways CDR Testbed Facilities will deploy multiple CDR pathways across different ecosystems, climates, and communities. Entities with existing CDR testbed facilities may propose expansions of their current capabilities to simultaneously test and integrate multiple CDR technology pathways (i.e., BiCRS, enhanced mineralization, and/or direct air capture) at scales ranging from 1 – 1,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. Applicants must discuss their process for assessing and priority ranking CDR pathways and technologies proposed for testing, and the integration of the new CDR testbed capabilities into the existing facility. The successful applicants will also test their respective testbed facilities for at least 1,000 hours of continuous operation.

Other Requirements

Applicants must propose and implement monitoring, reporting, and verification protocols appropriate for the CDR technologies being deployed by the pilot or testbed facility. Applicants must also address the societal considerations and impacts of their proposed projects, explaining how the projects are expected to deliver economic and environmental benefits and mitigate impacts. The applicant’s cost share of total allowable costs included an application must be at least 20%.

Applications for funding are due to DOE by April 16

Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright is a member of the firm’s Energy Industry Group, and counsels industry clients on a diverse range of transactional and regulatory matters. Mr. Wright counsels developers, investors and lenders in the development and financing of energy infrastructure assets, as well as…

Jonathan Wright is a member of the firm’s Energy Industry Group, and counsels industry clients on a diverse range of transactional and regulatory matters. Mr. Wright counsels developers, investors and lenders in the development and financing of energy infrastructure assets, as well as mergers and acquisitions, with a particular focus on renewable generation and battery storage facilities.

Mr. Wright also counsels clients on electric and natural gas matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he previously served as an Attorney-Advisor in the Office of the General Counsel. He specializes in matters involving electric generation interconnection, wholesale electric market design and participation, mergers and acquisitions involving jurisdictional assets, and natural gas pipeline rate proposals.