As we reflect on a year of momentum for the growing Direct Air Capture (DAC) industry, we at Carbon Engineering (CE) see 12 months that – in many ways – have created a foundation for the years to come. While there is still much work to be done, we would like to take a moment to celebrate four areas of progress.
1. A year for deployment progress
Since day one, our focus has been on deploying DAC at large scale and low cost. This year, alongside our partners, CE was able to achieve some major milestones:
- Construction has begun for the first large-scale commercial facility to utilize CE’s technology in the United States. Located in Ector County, Texas, the plant is being deployed by our U.S. partner, 1PointFive, and is expected to capture up to 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, with the capability to scale up to one million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). Once fully operational, it will be the largest in the world – expected to surpass existing DAC facilities by 100x.
- We began engineering for large-scale DAC facilities at a second site in the U.S., in Kleberg County, Texas. Once complete, CE will have produced the required materials to replicate megatonne-scale DAC trains within multi-megatonne facilities.
- This site on 106,000 acres of land leased by 1PointFive could support up to 30 megatonne DAC plants with pore space estimated to accommodate up to 3 billion tonnes for standalone carbon sequestration.
- We introduced a new global deployment approach with 1PointFive, which leverages decades of infrastructure engineering and project expertise as a subsidiary of Occidental, an international energy company. This model standardizes the design of plants and helps deliver complete, operationally-ready commercial DAC facilities to projects with local partners.
CE believes cross-industry collaboration and global partnerships will be critical in enabling the widespread deployment of DAC at scale. We want to thank our partners who work with us every day to make this a reality.
2. A year for pioneering DAC innovation
From our headquarters in Squamish, British Columbia, CE’s team of industry experts have spent the past year innovating our approach to large-scale DAC. Here are a few highlights:
- The decision to proceed with construction for the first commercial facility in Texas follows:
- Extensive testing and validation of our technology at the Carbon Engineering Innovation Centre (CEIC), which was built in 2021 and remains the world’s largest dedicated DAC research and development facility.
- Successful completion, in cooperation with 1PointFive and Worley, of the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) for the first commercial plant.
- At the CEIC, our team continues to improve, test, and validate our technology. One of the notable improvements in 2022 was testing an improved capture material that could produce an approximately 20% percent improvement in capture efficiency.
- CE’s intellectual property team has been hard at work, growing CE’s patented technology portfolio. Notable updates in 2022 include six new utility patent filings, four new issued patents, and four new trademarks, covering innovations around improved air contactor componentry and evolution in regeneration and processing concepts.
CE’s DAC solutions are the cumulative efforts of over a decade of forward-thinking, 40+ credited inventors and a team of nearly 150 innovators. We’re incredibly proud of the team’s sustained push to improve CE’s technology and thank everyone for their hard work in 2022.
3. A year for policy action
Many would recognize 2022 as a record-setting year for climate policy, including those that support DAC and carbon removal. Here’s a few highlights from the past year:
- In the United States, the historic Inflation Reduction Act passed into law. Widely recognized as the most significant U.S. climate action to date, it will bring hundreds of billions in incentives to many forms of clean energy. The Act has enhanced 45Q so that DAC facilities in the U.S. can earn tax credits of up to $180 per tonne of CO2 sequestered for the first 12-years of the plant life. This increase is game changing for our economics, and for DAC in the U.S. overall.
- In the European Union, the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRC-F) was released last month, outlining important quality criteria and governance procedures for certifying and verifying carbon removals. This is the first time a government body has worked towards defining and certifying carbon removals.
- In the United Kingdom, we continue to work with our U.K. partner, Storegga, to develop the U.K.’s first commercial facility to use CE’s technology, targeted for North East Scotland. In parallel, the UK government is continuing the development of business models for carbon dioxide removal, and how to integrate negative emissions into emission trading. These in-progress models aim to result in policies that make carbon removal facilities economically viable in the UK.
- In Canada, 2022 saw the release of a CCUS investment tax credit, whereby DAC (and point-source carbon capture) facilities that supply CO2 to permanent sequestration will qualify for a fully refundable investment tax credit from the Canadian Government. Similar to 45Q, this will be instrumental for the economics of DAC and CCS projects in Canada.
- Last but not least, 2022 saw continued development in Voluntary markets and in trans-national policymaking, such as at COP27 in Egypt. Numerous actors in the Voluntary markets continue work on protocols, standards, and certification systems that aim to improve the integrity and transparency of how carbon removals are generated and sold. 2023 will build the foundations for international trade of removals under a new market mechanism and we look forward to progress at COP28.
A famous proverb tells us “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. As 2022 winds down, we at CE would like to thank all those working tirelessly on this climate journey along with us. It takes a multitude of people working together on markets, policies, and technologies to make the kind of progress we’re seeing today.
4. A year for choosing a new flightpath forward
One of the major benefits of DAC is it can address any emission, from any place and any point in time. For difficult-to-decarbonize industries this means a feasible, affordable and scalable way to address residual emissions. This year, we witnessed the aviation industry take significant steps in evaluating ways to bring DAC into their net-zero plans. A few key moments include:
We applaud aviation leaders for leaning in and showcasing how hard-to-abate sectors can use DAC to pull CO2 directly out of the atmosphere and help accelerate efforts to decarbonize. Learn more about making net-zero aviation possible in this recent report by the Mission Possible Partnership.
All in all, 2022 was a big year for leaning into partnerships and enabling our scalable solution to play a key role in addressing our climate challenges. In 2023 and beyond, we are eager to build on this momentum. Please reach out if you want to be part of the excitement in 2023! You can find ways to get involved and work with us on our website at carbonengineering.com/work-with-us.