To the naked eye, direct air intake machines look like shipping containers stacked on top of each other, towering over open stretches of land. They are designed to remove carbon: either by sucking it out of the air and storing it deep underground, or by turning it into something solid, removing it permanently from the atmosphere.
The technology has caught the eye of the Biden administration, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, and companies including Alphabet and Meta. Proponents say carbon capture technology is a creative and essential way to rapidly slow the Earth’s warming and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Critics say it is more important to focus on reducing greenhouse gases by changing behaviors in society.
Yet the spending bill gives companies a tax credit of $180 per tonne of carbon they capture, up from $50 per tonne – a boon to the industry. To be eligible, projects would need to remove at least 1,000 tonnes of carbon, rather than the more restrictive 100,000 tonnes.
Adrian Corless, managing director of Pasadena, Calif.-based Carbon Capture, said the changes will help his business grow. Currently, he said, it costs his company about $400 to $500 per ton of carbon captured to operate.
Having a larger tax credit makes his business more attractive to investors and less reliant on philanthropy money, he said. Dropping the project size cap to qualify allows his company to partner with states, companies and other entities on smaller projects across the country.
“It allows us to enter the market and have a business from 2023,” he said. “And that allows us to quickly increase our volumes.”