The US Department of Energy (DoE) has launched six initiatives with $3.7bn in federal funding to help drive large-scale deployment of commercially viable systems to remove carbon – including contests to spur direct air capture technology.

The move will help accelerate private-sector investment and spur advancements in monitoring and reporting practices for carbon management technologies. State and local governments will be eligible for grants to procure and use products developed from captured carbon emissions.

“No matter how fast we decarbonise the nation’s economy, we must tackle the legacy pollution already in our atmosphere to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said energy secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Funding will come from the bipartisan $1trn infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021.

The leading US sources of carbon pollution are transportation, electric power, industry, commercial and residential, and agriculture.

Granholm said carbon management on a large-scale is crucial for the US to address climate change and meet Biden’s 2050 goal of a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy.

The initiatives include $115m in prize awards to promote diverse approaches to direct air capture of carbon. This is divided into $100m to qualified facilities for capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and $15m to incubate and accelerate research and development of breakthrough technologies.

DoE will invest $3.5bn to develop four domestic regional direct air capture hubs. Each will demonstrate a direct air capture technology or suite of technologies at commercial scale with the potential for capturing at least 1 million tonnes of CO2 annually from the atmosphere and storing it permanently in a geologic formation or through its conversion into products.

The first funding opportunity announcement under this programme released today makes available more than $1.2bn to begin the process for conceptualising, designing, planning, constructing, and operating direct air capture hubs.

Direct air capture has proved controversial, with some experts questioning the trade-off between the emissions captured and the energy needed to power the process.

DoE will provide up to $100m in grants to states, local governments, and public utilities to support commercialisation of technologies that reduce carbon emissions while also procuring and using commercial or industrial products developed from captured carbon emissions.

The last initiative for $15m is to accelerate commercialisation of carbon dioxide removal technologies, by advancing measurement, reporting, and verification best practices and capabilities. These projects will be led by DoE’s national laboratories.