The Port of Antwerp is working today on the energy of tomorrow

Port of Antwerp: leading the way in energy transition

The port of the future will be a sustainable port. The Port of Antwerp is fully aware of the importance of energy transition: the transition from energy extracted from oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels to green, sustainable energy sources such as sun, wind and water, among other sources. The goal: evolve towards a world with minimal rates of CO2 and fine particulate. The Port of Antwerp plays a crucial role in this transition.

As the second largest port in Europe, the Port of Antwerp is a critical intersection of waterways, motorways, railways and pipelines. There, energy is imported, produced, stored, exported and distributed. Thanks to its unique combination of logistics, industrial and transshipment companies, our versatile global port holds the key to testing and deploying new, alternative energy sources: 

  • The first large-scale industrial steam network in the port –ECLUSE– supplies chemical companies situated in the port area with steam generated by capturing heat released during waste incineration. This amounts to an annual reduction of 100,000 tons of CO² emissions;
  • Feasibility study for one of the largest heating grids in Flanders. This heating grid transports residual heat from waste incineration plants in the port area to industrial companies in the port, 7 schools and 3,000 families. Ambitious plans to reduce CO² emissions by 27,000 tons annually.
  • In addition to the existing shorepower plants for    moored inland and river cruise   ships, the Port of Antwerp is also working to provide charging points at the largest terminals by 2021. Local emissions at quays are disappearing because moored sea vessels no longer rely on their diesel engines for daily life on board, but rather plug into the port's electricity grid.          
  • The Port of Antwerp has seven sea locks. The Kallo lock runs on hydrogen power thanks to a hydro turbine that generates electricity from water. If this Hydropower pilot project is successful, considerations will be made whether the other sea locks can become energy neutral in the longer term;
  • The port area has 1,000 km of pipelines. Chemical companies transport their chemical products to all of Europe through 57 distinct product pipelines.
  • 69 wind turbines in the port area generate nearly 200 megawatts of wind power, or the equivalent annual consumption of more than 130,000 families;
  • 200,000 solar panels across the entire port area produce a total of 60 megawatts of power free of harmful CO² emissions;
  • Multi-fuel port. Ships with LNG engines emit less NOx and hardly any particulate. Ships can refuel LNG at various quays in the 12,000-hectare port area. The procedures that are being developed to get LNG safely onboard    ships will soon be ready for deployment in the delivery of alternative fuels, such as methanol and hydrogen;

Energy Observer and Hydroville: hydrogen as fuel

Energy Observer's stopover in Antwerp does not come as a surprise. The world's first hydrogen ship is a floating symbol of the vaunted sustainable energy transition. Silvia Lenaerts, Vice Rector and professor of Sustainable energy, air and water technology at the University of Antwerp describes hydrogen as the cornerstone in a sustainable, circular narrative: 'Hydrogen is the most efficient energy carrier. You lose less energy when transporting hydrogen than you do transporting electricity. Moreover, hydrogen can be used as a raw material for the chemical industry.'

The Port of Antwerp, along with its chemical industry, logistics and transport possibilities, is the ideal location to experiment with hydrogen. That is why the port supports initiatives such as Hydroville, which was initiated by the Antwerp shipping company CMB. The passenger shuttle runs partly on hydrogen. The Energy Observer, the first vessel in the world running on hydrogen, solar and wind energy, having moored in Antwerp is a justified choice.

For Professor Silvia Lenaerts, Antwerp plays a crucial role in the hydrogen economy: 'Here you have innovation companies, the chemical sector, the port authorities, the City of Antwerp and the University of Antwerp. Here, you will find the crucial blend of space, creativity, industry, technology and entrepreneurship. All the necessary building blocks are in close proximity for the successful development of hydrogen as a sustainable carrier of renewable energy.'

2018, a 'Grand cru' year for the Port of Antwerp

For the last several years, the Port of Antwerp has been translating its energy transition ambitions into all kinds of domains: strategic projects, sustainability reports, the Sustainability Award, etc. In addition to these sustainability efforts, the second largest port in Europe also produces strong economic results every year.

Last year, 235 million tonnes of goods were transferred from ship to quay, from quay to train, lorry, barge or other means of transport. These goods are key components in the largest logistics companies in the world with branches in Antwerp. Apart from being a transshipment and logistics port, the Port of Antwerp is also an industrial port. 19 million tonnes of chemical products are produced annually in the largest integrated chemical conglomerate in Europe. The location of this economic engine, 80 km inland, partly explains its attraction. It connects the continent's largest economic powerhouse regions such as the Randstad, the Ruhr region, the Mediterranean and the Baltic states.

No wonder that last year, with the 6-time annual record growth in all cargo types and an investment wave of billions of euros from companies such as Ineos, Nippon, Sea-Mol and Oiltanking/AGT, Antwerp proclaimed a ‘Grand Cru’ year.

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