• Type General news
  • Date 7 June 2022

KAPSARC-KAUST Conference Highlights Progress on the Kingdom’s Circular Carbon Economy

King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) partnered to host an event with some of the Kingdom’s key climate stakeholders to discuss progress on the circular carbon economy (CCE). The event, titled “Advancing the Circular Carbon Economy in Saudi Arabia,” was held at KAPSARC in Riyadh, on Tuesday, 31 May, 2022.

The two presidents, Mr. Fahad Alajlan, KAPSARC, and Professor Tony F. Chan, KAUST, opened the event with welcoming remarks.

“We need to drive adoption of CCE through research, collaboration and technology,” said Alajlan. “That the region hosts the next two Conference of the Parties (COP) sessions adds more urgency to our work.”

Adding to this in his remarks, Professor Chan highlighted the Kingdom’s role in the international context: “The Kingdom, with the support of the G20, chartered an energy transition roadmap for the world under the CCE framework.”

The discussion panel featured distinguished high-level guests, including Mr. Khalid Abuleif, Senior Advisor to His Royal Highness, Minister of Energy, and Chief Negotiator for Climate Change Agreements; Dr. Zeid Al-Ghareeb, Head of the CCE National Program at the Ministry of Energy; Dr. Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer; KAUST Distinguished Research Professor William McDonough, CEO of McDonough Innovation; and Dr. Mohammad Hejazi, Climate and Sustainability Director at KAPSARC.

Dr. Al-Ghareeb outlined the newly drafted national strategy, noting the program is already running initiatives on the ground. “There are twenty initiatives for the carbon strategy, including building a new carbon capture storage hub, which will be a major agent to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” he commented. “Further, the program has eleven initiatives for the hydrogen strategy, including eight Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), signed recently in the mobility sector.”

CCE pioneer Professor McDonough touched upon themes from his world-leading research, succinctly summarizing: “Carbon is a material and a fuel – that notion is fundamental. We should be looking at positive ways to engage it.”

Dr. Hejazi detailed the importance of data to support policy. “Data sets and models are going to be critical over time to decision-making,” he commented. “It’s imperative that we focus on more than one angle than just climate and include other societal goals.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Chief Technology Officer of Aramco, praised the leadership for their role in CCE planning. “This is the time now, with foresight by the leadership of the Kingdom, for these CCE options that we have committed to already.”

Presentations on the importance of applied science and cutting-edge research to the Kingdom’s CCE were delivered by both institutions’ research leaders.

Dr. Manus Ward, Director, Research Planning and Partnerships at KAUST, discussed the University’s main CCE research thrusts — carbon dioxide capture, nature-based solutions, geo-solutions, e-fuels and cross-cutting integration of renewable energy sources. Further, he highlighted the advances in blue hydrogen production and advanced carbon materials in the Aramco-KAUST Catalysis Center Joint Research Program, as well as the launch of the Fuel Lubricants and Efficient Engine Technologies (FLEET) Consortium and KAUST Climate and Livability Initiative.

Dr. Fahad Al-Turki, Vice President for Knowledge and Analysis at KAPSARC, also presented a summary of the institute’s progress on CCE initiatives. Touching on the origins of CCE, he discussed the FLEET project, in particular the responsiveness of the Saudi new vehicle fleet’s fuel economy to demand-side policy levers, such as fuel and vehicle price. Al-Turki also assessed CCE progress in the Kingdom in relation to global targets. “KAPSARC has been developing CCE scenarios that are compatible with the Paris Agreement,” he said.

Al-Turki concluded by introducing new data products and visualization tools from KAPSARC, referencing new national inventories that will include carbon dioxide storage potential, nature-based carbon dioxide sequestration potential and circularity technologies.

This article appeared on Saudi Gazette