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Qatar is planning to build a state-of-the-art science and engineering campus to test and develop futuristic green technologies — in the north of England.

The rich oil state chose Britain because it has Rolls-Royce riding shotgun on a plan to create and spin off five green start-up companies worth $1 billion or more by 2030, and another 15 by 2040.

Jolly Good Partners

Beyond its shared love of tea with milk (or karak if you're in Doha), Qatar is a major investor in the UK: it owns the iconic Harrods department store along with the Shard skyscraper in London and has a significant stake in Sainsbury, one of the UK's biggest grocers.

Now, the Gulf state will combine its gas riches — in the form of unspecified billions — with Rolls-Royce's engineering expertise to fix a shared dilemma:

  • Qatari officials are pledging to cut emissions at their LNG facilities by 25% by 2030, and the state petroleum company, Qatar Energy, is raising $5 to $10 billion by issuing green bonds.
  • Decarbonization is arguably Rolls-Royce's biggest challenge, as the company, which has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030, makes £15.4 billion annually from sales of its CO2-blasting jet engines.

Carbon Copying: Given the needs of the two partners, there's almost no question they will invest in carbon-capture technology, which either captures CO2 from exhaust or sucks it out of the atmosphere. One Swiss company has figured out how to turn it into rocks, but that technology is a long way from being scalable.

Location, Location, Location: A site feasibility study is due by mid-2022, according to the Sunday Times, but the frontrunner is the port city Newcastle, where another Gulf state, Saudi Arabia, just bought the local Premier League soccer team.