Poulsen ... technology leader

In the coming decade, the company envisions Saudi Arabia emerging as a global leader in sustainable energy, and Topsoe playing a pivotal role in shaping this transformative journey, Jesper Poulsen, tells OGN

Topsoe, a leading global technology licensor and expert in catalysis and process technology, is actively engaging Saudi companies, including giants, such as Saudi Aramco and SABC, for understanding and supporting their decarbonisation strategies.

The company realises the potential of the Saudi market and the immense opportunities in store as the Kingdom sets out on an energy transition path.

'Frankly, it is one of the most exciting markets. Right now, it is very heavily based on fossil resources. But what we are going to see in the future is a transition into how these resources can be utilised in an efficient and environment-friendly way,' Jesper Poulsen, Licensing Manager at Topsoe, tells OGN energy magazine in an exclusive interview.

'We will also see how the abundant Sun and solar energy can be exploited to greenify the grid and bring sustainability into it,' he adds.

Topsoe stands out for its proven track record and innovative offerings. Setting itself apart from competitors, Topsoe boasts historical references and operational excellence, aligning seamlessly with the ambitious goals of Saudi policymakers and local companies.

Topsoe’s SynCOR™ autothermal reforming technology (previously called ATR) is often the preferred technology in many
syngas-producing plants around the world

'It is different when you are proposing something that you might be able to do, and something that you actually have done in the past,' says Poulsen.

With a focus on decarbonisation at scale, Topsoe presents ready products capable of transforming the region's energy economy.

From ammonia production to Power-to-X technologies, Topsoe's solutions hold the key to transitioning Saudi Arabia into a lower carbon future.

'Firstly, we have our traditional business, which is mainly based around transforming resources into energy for instance, natural gas into ammonia and natural gas into methanol in a way where we capture and sequester carbon to avoid the emissions,' says Poulsen.

And then we have a portfolio within the Power-to-X business sphere. So that would be utilising electrolysers.

Through its Power-to-X business, Topsoe offers a range of technologies that convert electricity, particularly from renewable sources, into other forms of energy or products, for instance, greenhydrogen, green ammonia and green methanol.

The company’s proprietary electrolysis technology is called solid-oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC).

Topsoe has already taken a financial investment decision on a 500-megawatt facility in Denmark. It recently also announced a 1-gigawatt facility in the US.

For Topsoe, the opportunity in Saudi Arabia surely is the Kingdom’s ambition to driving the economy towards a low carbon economy and in achieving its environmental objectives.

These objectives are being pursued both in what it calls the blue transition, which involves the utilisation of natural resources like natural gas, and it is also driven in the green space, where Topsoe is expanding its solar and wind capacity to actually produce enough power to make green hydrogen.

But despite promising opportunities, Topsoe acknowledges the challenges ahead.

While the transition to a low-carbon economy is underway, securing offtakers remains a hurdle.

'We see that Saudi Arabia is ready to move ahead. But it is, of course, waiting for offtakers to give clear signals that they are ready to purchase these new low carbon intensity modules,' says Poulsen.

Topsoe's global headquarters in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Looking ahead, Topsoe harbours long-term plans for expanding its operations within Saudi Arabia.

Bolstered by revenue growth and market traction, the company anticipates further expansion, particularly in renewable fuels and low-carbon chemicals production.

In the renewable fuels’ portfolio, its proprietor HydroFlex solution, which converts waste oil into renewable and diesel into sustainable aviation fuel, is a gamechanger.

Poulsen sees growth ramping up in this segment, especially in the North American market.

He also sees a desire building up in the Middle East to have renewable fuels being produced and definitely to produce low carbon chemicals.

Excited about Saudi Arabia’s potential, Poulsen emphasises the unique opportunity it presents, with abundant natural resources and a conducive environment for solar energy.

'It’s a unique position to be in that Saudi Arabia actually has the opportunity to exploit both,' he says, adding, 'many regions have either, or. So either they have a lot of sun but no oil and gas, or they have a lot of oil and gas but no Sun.'

He anticipates a surge in mega-scale projects harnessing both traditional and green energy sources.

In the coming decade, Topsoe envisions Saudi Arabia emerging as a global leader in sustainable energy, with the company playing a pivotal role in shaping this transformative journey.