Now is the Time for Direct Air Capture

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Direct air capture technology has come a long way and is now commercially viable. (Image: Climeworks)

May 2019 — The Rhodium Group published Capturing Leadership: Policies for the US to Advance Direct Air Capture Technology, which projected that global emissions need to reach net-zero between 2045 and 2055 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

March 2020 — The Department of Energy (DOE) announced $22 million for supporting research on direct air capture.

May 2020 — The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations to help businesses understand how legislation passed in 2018 may benefit those claiming carbon capture credits.


Direct air capture technology is commercially ready for deployment. Companies have proposed at least 30 carbon capture projects to date. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of investment ready to deploy and commercialize direct air capture technology. However, deployment will only occur with federal policy action both in the near and long-term.

Up until now, there were little to no financial incentives to capture carbon emissions. Companies can now receive up to $50/ton of carbon captured and permanently stored underground. Projects can now start, and the sooner the better — previous research from the Rhodium Group found that 689–2,260 million tons of capture capacity is necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Additionally, these projects need to begin construction before 2024 to claim the tax credit. In the current circumstances, it is unclear how many carbon capture projects will get built.

Regardless, start on the path to reach net-zero emissions, we need to start efforts to construct direct air capture projects. Not only do these projects have environmental impact, but they will also help create more jobs in the economy.

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Impact Investment Analyst at One World | Startup Weekend Facilitator | Climate Tech Enthusiast

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