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The Economics of Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage

By: Eric Williams, Global CCS Institute (2022)

The Economics of Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage

This article delves into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a technology set that captures CO2 from large emission sources or from the atmosphere and stores it safely underground or permanently in products. CCS aids in emissions mitigation from industry, power generation, hydrogen production, and also enables carbon dioxide removal (CDR) through Direct Air Capture with CCS (DACCS) and Bioenergy with CCS (BECCS). These technologies are crucial in achieving net-zero emissions and mitigating climate change, with DACCS being a focus in this paper. DACCS consists of technologies designed to take carbon out of the atmosphere, typically using large arrays of fans to pass air through carbon capture equipment, absorbing CO2 and storing it permanently underground.

The paper explores the economics of DACCS in the context of a thought experiment, showing how its deployment might affect the global energy system through 2065 while maintaining a net-zero CO2 pathway. The study reveals that low-cost DACCS could reduce the total cost of decarbonization and meeting global climate goals. Its role is unique as it can function as a backstop technology and can be deployed anywhere with zero-carbon energy and carbon storage nearby. If DACCS deployment is limited due to high costs, hydrogen becomes the main decarbonization pathway. The study emphasizes that DACCS can play a crucial role as a safety net for achieving net zero, and therefore, governments should incentivize immediately available mitigation pathways while supporting the development and commercialization of lower-cost DACCS.

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