Saudi Aramco has laid out plans to produce hydrogen-powered vehicles, along with developing related technologies through the company’s advanced innovation centre, a senior company official said.

“Saudi Aramco is cooperating with major motor manufacturers and technology developers to support developing internal combustion engine models, technologies with lower emissions and efficient hybrid solutions,” Ahmed al-Saadi, senior vice president for Aramco’s technical services, said.

Al-Saadi told Upstream, "Hydrogen has the potential to enable emissions reduction in the transport sector, particularly in segments that are difficult to decarbonize — such as heavy-duty vehicles."

"Looking ahead, Aramco is working to localize the manufacturing of hydrogen vehicles in Saudi Arabia as well as develop hydrogen vehicles technologies through its Advanced Innovation Center (LAB7)," he noted.

The Saudi Arabian state-owned giant last month signed multiple agreements with French players, including a key deal to explore a hydrogen-powered vehicle business with clean transport solution provider Gaussin.

Modern facility

The agreement between Aramco and Gaussin aims to establish a modern manufacturing facility for on-road and off-road hydrogen-powered vehicles in Saudi Arabia, Aramco said.

“As a first step, Gaussin and Aramco will study the feasibility of a manufacturing facility and a hydrogen distribution business to serve the Middle East region,” the company added.

The two companies also agreed that Aramco’s LAB7 center will be closely involved in Gaussin’s development of hydrogen-powered vehicles and the development of a remote-controlled/autonomous hydrogen racing truck.

LAB7 aims to integrate Aramco’s composite materials into Gaussin’s existing range of products to reduce the weight, energy consumption and cost of these vehicles, the company noted.

Robin Mills, the chief executive of Dubai-based Qamar Energy, said that the kingdom "has large hydrogen production plans, both blue and green, and there is the intent at least from Neom that a portion of this could go to displace diesel in vehicles."

"This vehicle announcement seems to focus on heavy goods vehicles (trucks) and I believe that’s the appropriate area to look at, given that batteries appear superior for light vehicles," Mills noted.

Hydrogen-powered truck

Aramco recently confirmed its sponsorship for the first hydrogen-powered truck that participated in the Dakar Rally that started on 1 January from Jeddah.

Produced by Gaussin and sponsored by Aramco, the hydrogen racing truck ran the first 12-mile stage of the race as a demonstration vehicle.

Al-Saadi said that it's the "first time a hydrogen truck has entered the Dakar Rally."

"Through our exclusive sponsorship of the Gaussin H2 Truck, we aim to showcase its potential in the most demanding conditions," he added.

Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser recently said the partnership with Gaussin “represents an opportunity to promote hydrogen as a low-carbon solution, not just for motorsport, but eventually for mass transportation as well".

Blue hydrogen plans

As Saudi Arabia makes efforts to phase out the use of crude oil, fuel oil, and diesel for power generation, it is looking to scale up the share of gas and renewable energy for power generation to 50% each by 2030.

The country is betting big on the production of blue hydrogen and plans to use a significant portion of gas from its $110 billion Jafurah unconventional gas scheme to produce blue hydrogen.

The nation aims to emerge as a leading global hydrogen player and plans to produce and export about 4 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030, its energy minister Prince Abdulaziz said recently.

Net-zero goals

Aramco recently announced it is targeting net-zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly owned and operated assets by 2050.

Saudi Arabia — the world's largest oil-exporting nation — has also unveiled a target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, even as it continues to expand its oil and gas production capacity.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during the Saudi Green Initiative Forum last month that the country aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 “through the Carbon Circular Economy approach, in line with its development plans and enabling its economic diversification".

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