DOE falling short in assessing carbon capture risks, audit says

By Mike Soraghan | 05/17/2024 06:55 AM EDT

The Government Accountability Office found the department’s practices may “undermine the likelihood of project success.”


Smokestack emissions from a power plant. bkking111/Flickr

The Department of Energy needs to do a better job of determining financial and technical risks associated with carbon capture and storage projects, according to a report Thursday from the Government Accountability Office.

DOE funded more than 650 CCS and direct air capture projects from 2018 to 2023, doling out nearly $1.4 billion, the audit found. Spending in coming years could rise sharply, as the bipartisan infrastructure law allocated $12 billion for the technology.

GAO reviewed how DOE managed risk over the five-year span on 40 projects, including their finances and the process for selecting grants. DOE typically conducts “risk reviews” to screen CCS projects for financial and technical viability, for instance. In some cases, the department might use an outside panel to assess projects, as DOE offices “can be overly optimistic,” according to the report.


The audit found that on 25 of the examined projects, the department employed practices that could “undermine the likelihood of project success.”