Cost Analysis of Direct Air Capture and Sequestration Coupled to Low-Carbon Thermal Energy in the United States

Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Jun 16;54(12):7542-7551. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.0c00476. Epub 2020 Jun 2.


Negative emissions technologies will play an important role in preventing 2 °C warming by 2100. The next decade is critical for technological innovation and deployment to meet mid-century carbon removal goals of 10-20 GtCO2/yr. Direct air capture (DAC) is positioned to play a critical role in carbon removal, yet remains under paced in deployment efforts, mainly because of high costs. This study outlines a roadmap for DAC cost reductions through the exploitation of low-temperature heat, recent U.S. policy drivers, and logical, regional end-use opportunities in the United States. Specifically, two scenarios are identified that allow for the production of compressed high-purity CO2 for costs ≤$300/tCO2, net delivered with an opportunity to scale to 19 MtCO2/yr. These scenarios use thermal energy from geothermal and nuclear power plants to produce steam and transport the purified CO2 via trucks to the nearest opportunity for direct use or subsurface permanent storage. Although some utilization pathways result in the re-emission of CO2 and cannot be considered true carbon removal, they would provide economic incentive to deploying DAC plants at scale by mid-century. In addition, the federal tax credit 45Q was applied for qualifying facilities (i.e., producing ≥100 ktCO2/yr).