Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm answers questions during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, November 23, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that it is making its first steps to pay more than $ 2.3 billion for carbon capture technology included in Biden’s two-party infrastructure law, signed by the president in November, for carbon capture technology. carbon.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the result of burning fossil fuels and are a major cause of anthropogenic climate change, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased there is a trend towards a higher trend in the last 60 years.

Carbon capture technology aims to absorb carbon dioxide at the point of generation of emissions or from the atmosphere in general. The industry is still in its infancy and critics say better use of resources is to expand clean energy infrastructures.

But Energy Minister Jennifer Granholm believes there is room for both.

“Certainly our first preference is to make sure we are powered by clean, zero-carbon energy. And we do all this. But you can go and chew gum, “Granholm told CNBC in a video interview Thursday. (She used the same metaphor at a conference earlier this year to describe the contradiction between green energy policies, while asking oil and gas companies to increase production to counter rising pump prices.)

Granholm knows he is skeptical about carbon capture technologies. Critics say it is used mainly by polluting industries as a way to slow down the work needed to reduce emissions.

“There is criticism that something like this – carbon capture and sequestration – simply prolongs the assets that fossils [fuel] the industry will use it, “said Granholm.” I will say this: Anything we can do to decarbonise is a good thing. “

In particular, carbon capture technologies will be important to offset difficult-to-decarbonise sectors of the economy, such as heavy industry and steel and cement production, she said.

She also said that fossil fuels will be part of the global energy infrastructure for some time.

“We have a net zero target by 2050. And you know, the IPCC said that fossil fuels will exist during this transition,” Granholm said. “So we need to start now in these technologies.”

Carbon capture technology is at a very early stage and remains quite expensive.

IN The Ministry of Energy aims to help reduce costs of carbon removal technologies as part of Carbon Negative Shot or Earthshot. Earthshot’s goal is to be able to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for less than $ 100 per tonne by 2050.

“The benefit of being energy minister is that I can see what the 17 national laboratories are doing,” she said. “And that makes me extremely optimistic about the future, because technology will eventually be our friend in solving this big problem.”

But for carbon capture technology to really grow and scale, some investors believe there needs to be a price to pay for carbon.

The closest financial incentive to the United States is a a tax credit called 45Qwhich offers up to $ 35 per tonne for carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide stored as part of improved oil recovery projects, and up to $ 50 per tonne for gases if stored in geological formations outside EOP projects.

For now, Granholm is content to rely on the private sector to help create this market.

“In America, we have historically allowed the free market to make these decisions, but other countries with their state-owned enterprises and their subsidies have partnered or come in and said, we will take control as a government and make sure it makes us more competitive. . That’s what China does. This is what other countries do. Well, we don’t do that in America, “she said.

“But what we’re doing is building public-private partnerships and investing in technology at an early stage to help reduce these costs by scale.”

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