World energy supply must be sustainable, says Aramco officer

World energy supply must be sustainable, says Aramco officer
Saudi Aramco’s Wasit Gas Plant. Experts believe that Hydrogen could help the world reduce CO2 by making conventional hydrocarbon fuels sustainable. Aramco recently completed a blue ammonia supply chain demonstration. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 18 November 2020

World energy supply must be sustainable, says Aramco officer

World energy supply must be sustainable, says Aramco officer
  • Sector has been a ‘force for good’ amid the chaos of the coronavirus disease pandemic

JEDDAH: Any successful vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would rely on the global energy sector for its mass production, said Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, chief technology officer at Saudi Aramco, on Tuesday.

“Fortunately, we have an energy system in place that can power the manufacture, transportation and storage of the billions of doses (of vaccine) required to defeat the virus,” he said.

This came during a media briefing on meeting the dual global energy and climate challenges as part of the G20 Riyadh Summit, where Al-Khowaiter talked of how the world’s energy supply, though it had been “a force for good” and was reliable and affordable, needed to be more sustainable.

“The question is not if we reduce our emissions, but how? And for me, that starts with a fundamental rethink,” he added. “We must stop thinking of the global energy system as a linear economy of infinite resources and limitless capacity to absorb waste. Instead, taking our inspiration from nature, we must treat it as a circular system.

“Each year, as part of the natural carbon cycle, the Earth recycles 20 times as much C02 as humans emit, locking it away in trees or plankton, where it becomes energy for other organisms, a source of life and growth, rather than a source of harm,” he added.

The energy system must be designed to do the same, he said. “That is what is meant by the circular carbon economy concept championed by Saudi Arabia during the presidency of the G20. Instead of take, make and throw away, we must increasingly reduce, recycle and reuse.”

He quoted the Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, when he said: “We don’t believe in a low carbon economy. We believe in a low emissions economy. That is what matters to the future of the planet.”

Al-Khowaiter noted that hydrogen could help the world reduce CO2 by making conventional hydrocarbon fuels sustainable. “It could allow us to recycle CO2 through synthetic fuels, and crucially, if we combine it with carbon capture, we can remove the CO2 associated with the hydrogen production process. In addition, hydrogen is sustainable through renewable generation.”

To prove the concept of carbon capture during the production of low or zero carbon products, the official said that Aramco recently completed a low CO2 ammonia or blue ammonia supply chain demonstration.

“We took natural gas, converted it to hydrogen, then to ammonia and then captured the CO2 that resulted and sequestered it in our enhanced oil recovery project. (The blue ammonia) was shipped from Saudi Arabia to our partners in Japan, where it is now being used in zero-carbon power generation. This is just one example of what is possible under a circular carbon economy approach,” he explained.

He added that as important as renewals are and as much progress as they have made in so many recent years, renewables will not achieve the Paris Agreement aim of greenhouse gas balance in the second half of this century on their own.

Aramco is investing in all relevant technologies and more, said Al-Khowaiter, but technology alone is not the whole solution, as the right policy is also needed. “That means supporting our growing carbon and hydrogen markets just as wind and solar were back in their early days, with clear incentives for companies at every stage from production, to capture, to transport, to storage and reuse.”

With real determination and realistic optimism about the world’s shared interests, humans can face the challenges together, he concluded.

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results
Updated 22 January 2021

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

The incoming chief executive of Intel Corp. said on Thursday that most of the company’s 2023 products will be made in Intel factories but he sketched a dual-track future in which it will lean more heavily on outside factories.
The lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing from new CEO Pat Gelsinger drove shares down 4.7% after hours. Shares rose 6.5% during regular trade, when the results were released ahead of the close. The company said it was investigating “non-authorized” access to some of the results, with the Financial Times quoting its chief financial officer as saying the microchip maker had been hacked.
Intel also forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street expectations, continuing to benefit from pandemic demand for laptops and PCs that have powered the shift to working and playing from home.
Gelsinger said he was “confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally” though he also said the use of outside chip factories is likely to increase “for certain technologies and products.”
Intel has been considering since last July whether to drop its decades-old strategy of both designing and making chips by turning for help on its central processing units, or CPUS, to “foundry” manufacturers. Those partners could be Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics. Intel’s manufacturing technology, called a 7-nanometer process, is expected in 2023.
“We didn’t get our answer on which foundries and when,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “They pushed the can down the road.”
Kinngai Chan, analyst at Summit Insights Group, said Intel is not likely to outsource its flagship chips.
“Intel’s 14-nanometer chip transistor speed has always been faster than what any foundry can offer even at 7-nanometer,” Chan said. “We believe it will increase its use of external foundries over-time — just not for its large-core CPUs.”
Keeping manufacturing in-house means higher investments. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon questioned whether Gelsinger, currently the chief executive of VMware Inc. who previously spent 30 years at Intel and announced his intention to return just last week, has had sufficient time to dig into the issue.
“It was pretty obvious they were trying to borrow his credibility” when Gelsinger endorsed Intel’s delayed 7-naonmeter technology, Rasgon said.
Intel’s decision coincides with US lawmakers having passed bipartisan legislation to fund US chip manufacturing. But the new law has yet to specify funding levels or recipients, and Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell said Intel might take the opportunity to solicit US government support for domestic manufacturing.
Boosted by a new high-end PC processor, Intel regained some momentum in the PC market, with volumes of PC chips rising 33%, faster than the 26% rise for the overall PC market, according to data from IDC.
Data center group sales, which powered Intel’s growth over the past several years, were $6.1 billion compared with analyst estimates of $5.48 billion, according to FactSet data.
But sales to cloud computing customers, some of the largest and fastest-growing purchasers of data center chips, were down 15% in the fourth quarter. Data center chip operating margins were 34% in the quarter, down from 48% a year earlier.
“We think (data center) operating margins are going to improve as we get toward the second half of the year, when we expect to see a rebound in cloud” chip sales, Intel Chief Financial Officer George Davis said.
The company also raised its dividend by 5%.
The chipmaker said it expects fiscal first-quarter adjusted sales of $17.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.10, both ahead of analyst consensus, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Fourth-quarter revenue of $20 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.52 also beat Wall Street targets.