On Wednesday, May 11th, Carbon180 hosted a webinar following the publication of our white paper Setting DAC on Track: Strategies for Hub Implementation, which details four categories of recommendations for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) landmark Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs program. To successfully deploy four DAC hubs, Setting DAC on Track advocates for optimizing program design, reinforcing regulations, centering environmental justice, and building a carbon management workforce.

The conversation was moderated by Grace Donnelly of Emerging Tech Brew and featured Rory Jacobson and Ugbaad Kosar, deputy directors of policy at Carbon180 and two authors of the white paper. Rory and Ugbaad were joined for a Q&A by leading innovators in the DAC industry: Heirloom CEO Shashank Samala and Andy Stevenson, vice president of project development and partnerships at Twelve.

The panelists spoke to relevant topics such as public engagement, siting, enabling infrastructure, and jobs. Here are a few highlights:

  • Ugbaad Kosar noted that DOE has an important role to play in setting standards for information accessibility. “I would emphasize the public education piece more than anything else,” she said, so that local communities are clear on exactly what project benefits in their region would look like. Ugbaad underscored transparency as critical to fair, collaborative decision-making around hub implementation.
  • When selecting a location for projects, it’s important to consider how a hub could be tailored to certain sites. For example, “There are likely to be some locations that are very well suited for direct air capture deployment because of the site characteristics, but may not be well suited for nearby sequestration,” said Andy Stevenson. That’s where carbon transformation and utilization companies like Twelve come in.
  • Shashank Samala called out two fundamental needs surrounding DAC hubs: (1) ancillary infrastructure and (2) permitting and land availability. Access to renewable energy and accelerated land permits are crucial. “That’s what really would make a DAC hub highly performant.”
  • Rory Jacobson cited a Rhodium Group report that says each DAC hub can yield around 3,500 jobs across the supply chain. Rory went on to say, “We also want to make sure that this is a really inclusive and just and equitable workforce, … that these jobs are safe, that they are located in communities that want to host them, and that they pay prevailing wages.”

The DAC Hubs program is a huge opportunity for technological carbon removal in the US — but this is just the beginning of the march toward gigaton scale. As part of this program, emerging technologies will be able to fund and construct the infrastructure necessary to solidify themselves as key players in the DAC industry. If done right, DAC hubs will lift a variety of pathways into deployability and set the standard for robust community engagement.

Watch the full recording below.

Edited by Maddie Mahoney. Image by Climeworks.