Saudi Aramco has signed an agreement with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water company, to construct the first synthetic e-fuel plant in NEOM, aiming to generate 12 tonnes of synthetic methanol daily from green hydrogen and captured CO2, with a focus on the circular carbon economy and low CO2 emissions.
The integrated e-fuel facility will demonstrate a synthetic gasoline value chain’s technical feasibility and commercial viability. The project is a flagship initiative within Aramco’s broader research, development, and demonstration efforts with low-carbon synthetic fuels.
The Visionary E-Fuel Project in NEOM
The signing ceremony took place at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on 24th October 2023. The soon-to-be-established plant will be in Enowa’s Hydrogen Innovation and Development Centre (HIDC) in Neom. Its main goal is to demonstrate the technical feasibility and commercial viability of e-fuel technology.
The e-fuel tech, designed with a circular carbon economy approach in mind, is anticipated to cut CO2 emissions by over 70% throughout its life cycle, a significant reduction compared to conventional fuels.
The Conversion Process
Once operational, the integrated facility will churn out 12 tonnes of synthetic methanol daily. The process involves the utilization of green hydrogen and CO2, leveraging proprietary technologies conceived by ThyssenKrupp Uhde.
The synthetic methanol thus generated will be transformed into low-carbon gasoline. This conversion will be facilitated using ExxonMobil’s Fluidised-Bed Methanol-to-Gasoline (MtG) technology.
Green Hydrogen Production
Aramco has noted that the HIDC will also undertake green hydrogen production. This process will leverage an on-site 20-MW electrolyzer powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
The innovation center erected by Enowa will demonstrate the region’s vast potential to generate and utilize wind and solar power commercially.
The Future of Energy
Aramco has been investigating technologies for low-carbon synthetic fuels for an extended period. The demonstration plant in NEOM is the culmination of their intensive research and development efforts. The project aims to optimize the production of synthetic fuels.
Similarly, Enowa regards e-fuels as an essential future portfolio component in a circular carbon economy. These e-fuels can aid in reducing emissions and validating next-generation green fuel technologies for future large-scale projects.
Accelerating Global Vehicle Fleet Decarbonization
Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, Aramco’s Executive Vice President of Technology & Innovation, stated:
“Synthetic fuels can play a vital role in accelerating the decarbonization of the global vehicle fleet. We are thrilled to collaborate with our partners to demonstrate a potential pathway towards realizing this vision.”
Peter Terium, Enowa’s Chief Executive Officer, expressed his excitement about the partnership. He mentioned that it represents a significant milestone for Enowa. He said:
“As Saudi Arabia reinforces its global leadership role in a circular carbon economy driven by green hydrogen, we have an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the transformative capabilities of pioneering, sustainable technologies. Enowa is eager to collaborate with Aramco in the development of a state-of-the-art e-fuels facility in NEOM, which will spur innovation and promote the economic implementation of future clean energy supplies.”
Commitment to Climate Action
Roland Kaeppner, Enowa’s Managing Director of Hydrogen and Green Fuels, highlighted the project as a concrete example of the circular carbon economy. He said:
“The project is a testimony to Enowa’s commitment to support Saudi Arabia’s mission to rapidly scale climate action by championing scientific innovation. As one of the first anchor tenants of the HIDC, the facility is a strong demonstration of our shared ambition with Aramco to deliver leading-edge projects that continue to innovate on the latest technologies.”
A Global Reference Point
ENOWA forms an integral part of NEOM’s success. As NEOM pushes the boundaries of environmental sustainability through renewable energy and the treatment and management of water, it is rapidly becoming a global reference point for industry leaders.
More NEOM’s Green Hydrogen-Driven Investments
This monumental venture isn’t the only project where Saudi Arabia’s NEOM has shown its intentions toward a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.
NEOM Green Hydrogen Co. received its first significant shipment of 250 wind turbines for the world’s largest green hydrogen plant in the NEOM megacity. It will be assembled at the Wind Garden site, supporting Saudi’s goal to export green hydrogen starting in 2026.