Port of Antwerp-Bruges to play vital role in Belgium’s revised hydrogen strategy

 Port of Antwerp -Bruges
Credit: Port of Antwerp -Bruges

Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to play a key role in the import, local production, processing, and throughput of green hydrogen and hydrogen carriers, such as ammonia and methanol.

PSA Terminal; Image credit: Boskalis/PSA

The commitment is of particular importance as Belgium announces a revision of the country’s federal hydrogen strategy. The revision was proposed earlier today by Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo at an event hosted by the port.

The planned modification, which includes the establishment of a federal hydrogen council, aligns with the government’s broader energy objective of achieving the European goal of climate neutrality.

 ” Together with all stakeholders from government and industry, we have developed a focused strategy built on all the know-how that Belgique has accumulated over the past decades. We want to seize our potential to become a European leader in hydrogen, by ensuring security of hydrogen supply by the second half of this decade, strengthening our technological leadership, developing a hydrogen market, and turning Belgium into a leading, continental hub for hydrogen. We believe hydrogen will play a key role in our wish to redraw the energy fundamentals of our entire continent post-Ukraine,” De Croo, said.

De Croo also added that hydrogen was a natural course for the country having in mind the ongoing energy challenges, which are likely to result in ‘five cold winters’, and building upon the country’s previous nuclear and LNG infrastructural investments.

The PM’s full speech can be heard in the video below.

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To become carbon neutral, Belgium not only needs renewable electricity but also large quantities of renewable hydrogen, which is produced locally but will mainly have to be imported in large quantities. One of the goals of the strategy is to position Belgium as an import and transit hub in Europe for green hydrogen.

The Prime Minister, Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, and State Secretary for Economic Recovery, Thomas Dermine, explained this revision of the federal hydrogen strategy, which was approved late last year, in presence of stakeholders from various sectors including chemistry, industry and energy. The review is based on a number of recommendations from a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study that surveyed various sectors. Specific highlights included the import of hydrogen as well as the announcement of a federal hydrogen council with WaterstofNet and Cluster TWEED as chairs.

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Namely, Belgium has insufficient space to produce the required quantities of green hydrogen on its own. Local production will therefore have to be supplemented by imports of green hydrogen and hydrogen carriers from regions that have sufficient sun and wind as well as an abundance of space. From 2026 onwards, the port of Antwerp-Bruges will see its existing capacity further expanded to receive the first green hydrogen molecules on its platform.

To strengthen its position, Port of Antwerp-Bruges formed the hydrogen import coalition together with five major industrial players and public stakeholders: DEME, Engie, Exmar, Fluxys and WaterstofNet. Collaborations with several exporting regions have also been established in order to kick-start this hydrogen chain. Several Belgian companies are currently developing hydrogen export projects around the world.

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Hydrogen and hydrogen carriers are transported to the European hinterland via various transport modes such as pipelines, rail and inland waterways. Good infrastructure, such as open-access hydrogen pipelines and terminals, are essential in this context. To this end, the port is working to expand terminal capacity for existing and new hydrogen carriers at both port sites. In addition, the government is funding a network of hydrogen pipelines that will connect ports to Belgian industrial areas and Germany by 2028.

There will also be local production at the Zeebrugge and Antwerp port platforms. Zeebrugge has been designated as the ideal location for the construction of a plant for the production of green hydrogen due to the presence of wind farms and natural gas infrastructure.

Fluxys and Eoly are responsible for the construction of this plant under the name HyoffWind. American company Plug will also build a green hydrogen production plant in Antwerp at the circular hotspot NextGen District. Its location near Europe’s largest chemical cluster plays an important role here.

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Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to become a ‘world port that reconciles economy, people and climate.’

As part of its energy transition goals the port is targeting to become a green energy hub, by working on projects such as the capture, storage and reuse of CO2 via Antwerp@C.

By 2028, Port of Antwerp-Bruges plans to have the capacity to receive the first green hydrogen molecules on its platform. To this end, it is working to expand terminal capacity for existing and new hydrogen carriers at both port sites.

Furthermore, Belgian energy infrastructure firm Fluxys is working with compatriot Advario Stolthaven Antwerp and Advario Gas Terminal to study the feasibility of building an open-access green ammonia import terminal at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Finally, the port and cleantech company CMB.TECH are readying to welcome the Hydrotug, the first hydrogen-powered tugboat, which is part of an integral greening programme for the port’s fleet.

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“Together with our partners in organisations such as the Hydrogen Import Coalition, and the major players on our port platform, we are investing in infrastructure and projects to accelerate the import, transport and production of green hydrogen. Cooperation with and the appropriate support from the government is key to this. I therefore sincerely welcome this revised strategy that provides concrete direction, recognises imports as a pillar of our energy and resource supply and demonstrates our commitment to working with industry on the development of solutions to potential challenges that may lie in our path,” Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said.