RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia continues to utilize technology to reduce its climate footprint, direct air capture, coupled with carbon dioxide storage units, is set to play a pivotal role in the Kingdom’s transition, experts say.
During a panel discussion at the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week in Riyadh, Daniel Nathan, chief project development officer at Climeworks, stated there is no point in accomplishing DAC if CO2 cannot be stored.
“If we use the Kingdom here as the example, we need good storage locations. There are plenty of opportunities. It’s a matter of technology,” Nathan said.
He further explained that the objective extends beyond storage for the sake of DAC. It also serves the broader purpose of conserving resources for the “greater good.”
Nathan highlighted Iceland and the US as examples of good practice in this area, as they are working on constructing sites for new plants to capture air carbon which will be deployed in the coming years.
The panelist also discussed the importance of selecting an appropriate energy source for powering DAC technology and highlighted the preference for using renewable energy sources over fossil fuels.
“Geothermal is an excellent choice. If there is geothermal, it is typically one of the cheaper options. But in this region, in the Kingdom in particular, you are blessed with a lot of sun,” he said.
The panel discussion also underscored challenges surrounding carbon capture technology in difficult-to-abate industries, including refineries, petrochemicals, cement, and steel production.
Krishna Singhania, chief growth officer of Carbon Clean, talked about the “cost challenge” involved with the process, adding: “Traditionally the carbon capture has been very expensive ... with the new generation of the carbon capture technology, we are trying to reduce the cost of carbon capture point source, post-combustion emissions drastically,” said Krishna Singhania, chief growth officer of Carbon Clean.”
He called for the innovation of new technologies to help reduce the size of carbon capture plants, which will assist with the decarbonization of brownfield sites.
Furthermore, Singhania flagged up the time it takes to build carbon capture plants as another challenge facing their development – particularly with the global aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
“It’s not going to happen if we are going to take three to five years to build every single carbon capture plant,” he explained, adding: “So we had to come up with very standard sizes, innovative manufacturing ideas, innovative application of our technologies into products to be able to deliver a dozen plants every year.”
The discussion focused on the importance of emission sources in Saudi Arabia and supporting existing infrastructure in the context of transitioning to alternative energy resources.
According to Humam Al-Ghamdi, chief engineer in the Circular Carbon Economy at the Ministry of Energy, the Kingdom wants to make sure that it is leveraging the existing framework for previous sectors that have been already established.
However, he added that this could have a “severe impact” on areas like aviation, maritime, steel, and cement.
The Riyadh-hosted event, which will take place from Oct. 8 until Oct. 12, will offer the Kingdom a chance to demonstrate how it is spearheading the region’s green transition with programs like the Saudi Green Initiative and the adoption of renewables.