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Antwerp winning the environment battle?

The Port of Antwerp says it is taking important steps to become the sustainable port of the future

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Antwerp winning the environment battle?

This is the clear message of the fifth Sustainability Report published by the port community. This stresses that port development must go hand-in-hand with the largest possible contribution to society. Published every two years, it summarises the main economic, ecological and social indicators.

 

2018 was an excellent year for Port of Antwerp with a total maritime freight volume of 235.2 Mt, up 5.1% on the previous period and the sixth record year in a row. Industrial investments in the port also increased.

 

Port of Antwerp CEO Jacques Vandermeiren said: "The positive aspect is that we are managing to stop our ecological footprint from getting bigger, despite larger freight volumes and higher industrial output. NOx and SO2 have declined further, our energy consumption is down and the number of green energy production units is growing steadily.”

 

In the past few years the port community has resolutely pursued innovation as a way of meeting the challenges posed by climate change. For example, with the introduction of Ecluse, the first steam heating network for industry. This now provides 5% of total Flemish production of environment-friendly heating and saves CO2 emissions of 100,000 tonnes per year.

 

Onshore power supplies for ships at berth also help to reduce emissions within the port area. Since 2016 some 40 onshore power points have been installed on quays for tugboats, barges and river cruise boats.

 

In a first demonstration round for Carbon Capture & Utilisation (CCU), various companies are collaborating to investigate the possibilities for environment-friendly production of methane from CO2. Initiatives such as these are encouraging companies to experiment with new technologies, so that they can be scaled up in the longer term. In ways such as these Antwerp serves as a test-bed for innovation.

 

The report also emphasises that additional efforts are necessary. "In particular, achieving a modal shift from road to transport by barge and rail, for passengers as well as freight, is a priority for the near future," said Peter Van de Putte, manager of the Left Bank Development Corporation.

 

The biggest challenge remains the transition to renewable energy sources and a circular economy through the introduction of innovative technologies. Alternative fuels are already being made available, but the supply has yet to expand. LNG is a temporary solution, but the port community sees perspectives in methanol and hydrogen. In 2021, an operational testing ground must encourage the development of new technologies and upscale them in the port of Antwerp.

 

The whole report can be viewed here.

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