It may not surprise you, but 2021 was another challenging year for our port. We had the coronavirus crisis, the Suez incident, the labour shortage, etc. And yet we were able to record growth in Antwerp and Zeebrugge compared to 2020, thanks to our resilience and the agility of thousands of employees.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is more than a port, more than transport, more than tonnes, more than TEUs. It is not just about profits, money and jobs. As one of Europe's most important ports, we have an essential social role: we are a port by people, for people. We aim to be the first world port that brings together people, climate and economy.

 

And all this in today's VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – world. Therefore, agility, resilience and continuity must remain the common thread of our operation. But we cannot just pursue short-term solutions. A long-term perspective and forward thinking are essential. We want to play a leading role, to be the spark that ignites change, inside and outside the port community, locally and internationally.

 

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is making the transition from passive landlord to active community builder. We are the 'glue' in ambitious sustainability projects, which start in Antwerp and Zeebrugge, and have the potential to become international groundbreakers. Our ultimate goal? To become the green energy gateway of Europe. This is why we are working on pioneering lighthouse projects around carbon capture and storage, circular economy, waste heat, alternative marine fuels and green hydrogen, the energy of the future.

 

Green hydrogen, produced with renewable energy, will play a decisive role in the energy transition. We want to become the European import hub for green hydrogen and play an active and pioneering role in the hydrogen economy. Indeed, our complementary port sites clearly have the right assets to become a leader in this. Solar and wind must become the renewable energy sources of the future. But in Belgium and Western Europe, there is not enough wind or solar energy, while other regions have sun, wind and space in abundance. The solution? Importing renewable energy from these regions. Because such solutions are complex, the port is joining forces with major industrial and public players, each with its own expertise.

 

With the hydrogen import coalition, we are focusing on concrete projects that shape the production, transport and storage of green hydrogen. In Antwerp, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to the largest chemical cluster in Europe, while Zeebrugge is an important LNG port and has access to offshore wind farms. When is it going to get interesting? When we store the green energy that arrives in Zeebrugge, convert it into green hydrogen and transport it to the Antwerp chemical industry, which are major bulk consumers of energy, and the European hinterland. The large scale that we can achieve within our port area provides a lever for the implementation of a true hydrogen economy.

 

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is stronger thanks to the complementarity of both port sites. It is the best answer to the challenges of today and tomorrow. And the perfect opportunity to build upon our rich experience of the past to ensure a long-term future. And to fulfil our role, not only as the main economic engine, but also as the main engine for energy transition in this country. That is why I am hugely looking forward to the future of Port of Antwerp-Bruges. Will you join me?

 

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp-Bruges

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