OPINION: A New Year’s resolution suggestion for the US Department of Energy: Don’t let past mistakes define your future projects.
A report at the end of 2021 from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) called into question the Department of Energy’s (DoE) decisions in funding certain carbon capture projects.
With only two out of the 11 carbon capture and storage projects that the DoE has helped fund since 2009 still operational, accusations that the DoE had shirked procedures designed to provide safeguards seem hard to rebuff.
The report is embarrassing but new funding approved for CCS initiatives under the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the launch of the Carbon Negative Earthshot Initative should provide encouragement for the department to continue its support for future carbon capture efforts.
The US is an early leader in CCS technology and expertise, and US companies are well placed to gain a head start in commercialising carbon capture.
The DoE must be astute and methodical in its funding procedures if it wants to ensure its programmes are successful, attracting more funding for CSS in the process.
The department just launched the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which it says will address GAO’s concerns, but other concerns were highlighted in the report.
The uncertainty that shrouds the carbon market was cited by the GAO as one of the causes of failure for previous coal CCS projects.
Oil and gas companies have called for expansions in the 45Q tax credits, but the ill-fated Build Back Better legislation was crucial to this.
Progressing CCS efforts in the US will require more from all parties, with the DoE tightening its protocols, Congress putting real carbon capture incentives in place and industry doing its bit. .
Exciting CCS projects in the US, including ExxonMobil’s Houston Ship Channel hub, will not be successful without changes to the current carbon market and the policies surrounding it.
(This is an Upstream opinion article)