Port of Antwerp brings different players together to produce sustainable methanol

Port of Antwerp brings different players together to produce sustainable methanol

Pilot project aims for 4,000 to 8,000 tonnes of sustainable methanol per year

Port of Antwerp is starting the year with an ambitious new project. By bringing various players in the port area together for sustainable production of methanol – an important raw material in the port – it is taking the next step in the transition to alternative energy sources and a carbon-neutral port.

Innovation will be key to the success and economic feasibility of this project, by combining different activities already present within the port platform such as electricity generation, the fuel industry and the chemical industry. The project is complex and challenging, but will be a "first" for Belgium.

Essential for the port

Methanol is an important raw material with multiple uses in the chemical industry, and also has many applications outside of it. With such a large chemical industry inside the port area, this substance is essential for the day-to-day operation of the port. Methanol is the starting point for all sorts of chemical processes used on a daily basis by the industrial players in the port. The port of Antwerp uses around 300,000 tonnes of methanol annually for chemical processes and fuel production: everything from insulation panels to fuel additives.

From fossil sources to sustainably produced fuel

However, methanol is currently obtained from fossil sources that can ultimately run out. By helping to introduce a new production process Port of Antwerp is now taking practical steps towards making the port more sustainable.

"In practical terms we will produce methanol from waste CO2 and sustainably generated hydrogen," explains Didier Van Osselaer, project manager at Port of Antwerp. "The waste CO2 will be collected by a new process called Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) in which at least some of the CO2 emissions are recovered. This CO2 is then combined with hydrogen generated on a sustainable basis using green energy in a new electrolysis plant. These two processes – CCU and electrolysis – together form the perfect basis for producing sustainable methanol."

Smaller footprint, less emissions

In this way Port of Antwerp will avoid producing one tonne of CO2 emissions – or perhaps even twice that amount – per tonne of methanol generated. Methanol can also be used in the future as a sustainable fuel in its own right, with minimum emissions of harmful substances, to power e.g. tug boats or indeed ordinary road traffic. Indeed Port of Antwerp has the ambition of introducing a first methanol-powered tug in the near future.

Close partnerships

To achieve this Port of Antwerp is bringing various experts together. ENGIE, Oiltanking, Indaver, Vlaamse Milieuholding (VMH) and Helm-Proman have all declared their support for this project, and several knowledge institutes have also committed themselves. This is a new step in the direction of an integrated, efficient port by creating a closely-knit port community that works across boundaries between industrial activities. Each partner has its own particular role to play in this project. For instance, ENGIE will contribute its knowledge of the electricity market, Oiltanking will give advice on the logistical aspects of methanol production and storage, while Indaver will offer expertise on collection of CO2. Helm-Proman is involved with a view to finding markets for the methanol that is produced, VMH will be responsible for at least part of the financing, while Port of Antwerp will act as a bridge between the public and private sectors.

Port of Antwerp CEO Jacques Vandermeiren confirms: "With this innovative project we aim to smooth the path for alternative energy sources in the port of Antwerp. I am proud that we are able to sign this collaboration agreement today with five crucial partners from among others the electricity, fuel and chemical industries. Our role as Port Authority is to bring people from different sectors together, in order to face the challenges of tomorrow. Today marks yet another step in the right direction."

Minister Muyters adds: "Innovation is key when it comes to facing challenges large and small. We won't solve the climate problem by taxing entrepreneurs into the ground. This innovative project shows once again that our companies are very much part of the solution, especially when they come together and collaborate as here in the port of Antwerp."

Minister for the Environment, Nature and Agriculture Koen Van den Heuvel is particularly pleased with this initiative: "I am very glad that Port of Antwerp has taken on this role. It shows that we have innovative thinking here in Flanders. Just like the project for onshore power, this project will help us to achieve our ambitious climate objectives. At the same time it will save primary raw materials and take us a step further in the transition to a circular economy."

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About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 289 million tons per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.
 
The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear - to become the world's first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. As well as growing in a sustainable way, the Port also aims to focus on its unique position as a logistics, maritime and industrial centre and to take the lead in the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future. High on the agenda is its responsibility for the environment and the surrounding society. 

The port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are operated by the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, a limited liability company of public law with the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges as its shareholders. The port employs 1,800 people. Vice-Mayor of Antwerp Annick De Ridder is President of the Board of Directors, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw is the Vice-President. Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the port’s day-to-day management. 

www.portofantwerpbruges.com

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to [email protected]

Port of Antwerp-Bruges
Havenhuis
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp
Belgium