MENA Climate Week

Act today to meet the materials challenge

Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter discusses the materials transition with high-profile panelists at Middle East North Africa Climate Week.

Act today to meet the materials challenge

A move toward carbon-based materials, instead of conventional products such as steel and aluminum, which are emissions intensive, can help enable an orderly energy transition, a senior Aramco executive told a major climate conference.


Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, executive vice president of Technology and Innovation, was speaking during a panel session entitled “How the Energy Transition is Creating a Materials Transition” at Middle East and North Africa Climate Week (MENACW) in Riyadh.


High-profile panel

Al Khowaiter was joined on the panel by Mohammad Al-Tayyar, program director of the Oil Sustainability Program; Landon Derentz, senior director for Global Energy Security at the Atlantic Council; and Konstantin Novoselov, professor at the National University of Singapore. The session was moderated by well-known U.S. journalist John Defterios. 


Members of the panel discussed the materials transition, which refers to the growing role that carbon-based materials could play in enabling the energy transition by helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


Al Khowaiter started the session by emphasizing that the challenge of transitioning to new energies can depend on the use of advanced materials.


We are looking at ways of putting hydrocarbons not to energy use, but rather, to material use to address the energy transition.
— Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter 


He added that the “huge growth” in materials used to meet the energy transition could — without innovation and a materials transition — cause a rise in GHG emissions.


Act now

Al Khowaiter said we need to act today to meet this challenge, not wait for zero emission technologies to produce steel or concrete, for example. He explained that Aramco was already focused on this. 


Artificial intelligence (AI) can also play a part in the energy transition, said Al Khowaiter, accelerating research and development, reducing the time it takes to develop new products important for the materials transition. AI has “huge potential,” he said. 


Al Khowaiter explained that the oil and gas industry could be “a player” in the energy transition. He pointed to the investments the industry commits to the cause, highlighting ongoing research and development. 


MENACW, which was held over five days from October 8-12, was hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Caption for top photo: Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter at the Middle East Climate Week forum held recently in Riyadh.


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