Exxon focuses on direct air capture of CO2, shuns the EV sector
The biggest oil company in the U.S., Exxon Mobil, isn’t going to build electric car charging stations. Instead, they’re focusing on creating technology to pull carbon dioxide out of the air. They believe this will help create a future with zero carbon emissions.
Matthew Crocker, a top executive at Exxon, says that if they can make the technology cheaper and more effective, the company could become a big name in the new industry of removing carbon dioxide from the air.
Carbon is taken directly out of the atmosphere using direct air capture. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations believes that it is crucial to controlling global warming, but costs are extremely high and now vary from $600 to $1,000 per ton of carbon removed.
According to Crocker, the technology may be built on the success of Exxon’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) venture, which will similarly require burying pollutants.
Exxon and Global Thermostat extended their cooperative research agreement last year with the goal of accelerating the development of the technology for widespread use. But, the investment is less than that of American oil major Occidental, which has already decided to invest in what it believes would be the first of around 100 DAC plants across the nation.
DAC “would link very closely to our CCS business where we are going to have large geologic storage and the capability to capture CO2,” Crocker said. “That’s one component of reducing the cost of direct air capture.”
Exxon’s energy transition strategy places less emphasis on investing in renewable energy sources like solar and wind and more emphasis on lowering carbon emissions from its operations and CCS. It also finances hydrogen and biofuels.
The majority of the $17 billion allocated for Exxon’s low-carbon business during 2022–2027 goes on self-emissions reduction and CCS.
Due to the lack of a clear competitive advantage, Exxon has no plans to invest in the construction of electric vehicle charging stations, according to Crocker.
“If we were building them we wouldn’t be able to bring our unique capabilities into that space,” he said.
As part of their energy transition strategy, a number of European oil companies have invested in electric vehicle charging stations, and a Deloitte survey published last week revealed investors would like to see more money spent on such technologies.