Direct Air Capture 2022

A key technology for net zero

About this report

Direct air capture plays an important and growing role in net zero pathways. Capturing CO2 directly from the air and permanently storing it removes the CO2 from the atmosphere, providing a way to balance emissions that are difficult to avoid, including from long-distance transport and heavy industry, as well as offering a solution for legacy emissions. Air-captured CO2 can also be used as a climate-neutral feedstock for a range of products that require a source of carbon.

In the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, direct air capture technologies capture more than 85 Mt of CO2 in 2030 and around 980 MtCO2 in 2050, requiring a large and accelerated scale-up from almost 0.01 MtCO2 today. Currently 18 direct air capture facilities are operating in Canada, Europe and the United States. The first large-scale direct air capture plant of up to 1 MtCO2/year is in advanced development and is expected to be operating in the United States by the mid-2020s.

This report explores the growing momentum behind direct air capture, together with the opportunities and challenges for scaling up the deployment of direct air capture technologies consistent with net zero goals. It considers the current status of these technologies, their potential for cost reductions, their future energy needs, and the optimal locations for direct air capture facilities. Finally, the report identifies the key drivers for direct air capture investment and priorities for policy action.