26 May 22

Saudi Arabia pledges to develop ‘green’ fuels

One place in the world where oil means so much to the economy is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco had a revenue of around $360bn in 2021, up $155bn on 2020. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest oil producers in the world, second only to the United States.

So, when the world is calling for climate action and banning the use of fossil fuels, what’s been their response?

Tentative steps towards EVs

In terms of electric vehicles, tentative is a good word to describe it, although the government has agree to buy up to 100,000 EVs from Lucid Motors over the next decade. There are, however, over 6 million cars on the roads of Saudi Arabia, the majority of which are not electric.

That said, the Government of Saudi Arabia has pledged to “diversify, ‘greenify’ and transform the economy, society and lives of its people” through its Vision 2030 initiative, which also places it in alignment with the Middle East Green Initiative. The country owns a significant stake in Lucid, which has opened its first factory and assembly plant outside on the USA in Saudi Arabia. The plant will have the capacity to produce 150,000 electric vehicles a year. The Government wants 30% of all vehicles in the capital city Riyadh to be EVs by 2030.

Improving the environmental competitiveness of fuel

Maybe the country’s latest initiative will ensure the future of oil, while concurrently cutting emissions. The Oil Sustainability Program (OSP) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have launched an initiative called FLEET (Fuels, Lubricants, Efficient Engines Technology). It’s a consortium for improving the economic and environmental competitiveness of fuel, combustion engines and lubricants in the transport sector.

Initiated by KAUST’s Clean Combustion Research Centre (CCRC), FLEET aims at developing research to achieve competitive sustainability and meet the global needs of combustion-generated power.

Advancing research studies

The consortium contributes to providing engaging relevant entities and facilitating the advancement of research studies, as several leading entities within and outside Saudi Arabia have joined, including Saudi Aramco, Bahri, Toyota, Hyundai, Pacific Green Technologies Group, SAPTCO, and others.

The OSP and KAUST aim at accelerating technological development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This is actually a smart move and not just a way of ensuring the future of Saudi oil. We already know that in countries that rely heavily on coal to produce electricity, EVs are not environmentally the best choice for mobility. Clean ICE fuel however, could be. There’s no telling how long it will take to develop such products but chances are it will be shorter than waiting for every country in the world to abandon coal.

Image: courtesy of the Saudi Gazette

Authored by: Alison Pittaway