Hydrogen plays an important role in the transition to a climate-neutral world. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is an active pioneer in the hydrogen economy and intends to take up a leading position as a European import hub for green hydrogen.

Change starts at Port of Antwerp-Bruges, the port that gets green energy flowing.

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen (H) is the simplest and most abundant element in our universe. It has one proton and one electron. In its pure form, it occurs as hydrogen gas (H₂), also called hydrogen for short. At room temperature, it is a colourless and odourless gas that is non-toxic.

How is hydrogen made?

Hydrogen gas (H₂) is barely to be found on Earth, but hydrogen atoms are hidden in larger compounds with other elements. Extracting the hydrogen from these molecules requires a lot of energy. That means we need to produce hydrogen.

 

We draw a distinction between grey, blue and green hydrogen.

Grey hydrogen

Grey hydrogen  is made with fossil fuels. During production, CO₂ is released into the atmosphere.

Depending on the energy sources and CO2 emission from the production process, we speak of gery, blue or green hydrogen.

Blue hydrogen

Blue hydrogen can also be produced from fossil fuels. You do capture the CO₂ released and store it, so that it does not enter the atmosphere. You reuse that CO₂ in other applications.

Green hydrogen

Green hydrogen is made with electrolysis: you subject water to electricity so that it splits into hydrogen and oxygen gas. If you get that electricity from renewable energy sources, no CO₂ is released.

A great deal of energy is needed to separate hydrogen from larger molecules. This energy is released once more when the hydrogen gas reconnects with other atoms. This is what makes hydrogen is an energy carrier.

 

Hydrogen has several applications and can be used:

  • to store surplus energy.
  • to replace natural gas in heating buildings.
  • as an alternative energy source in industry.
  • as fuel in the transport sector. Hydrogen can be used in an internal combustion engine without emitting any pollutants.
As a multifuel, LNG is an important stepping stone to a hydrogen economy.

Essential role in the energy transition

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a major hub for energy and raw materials today. A great many companies at the port are closely involved in the production, processing and distribution of energy to and from various European and global markets. Unfortunately, this also releases greenhouse gases. Today, CO₂ emissions from the entire port area amount to around 17 million tons.

 

Port of Antwerp-Bruges wants to be climate neutral by 2050. This is why it is necessary to switch to green energy and raw materials.

The import of hydrogen plays an key rol in the energy transition of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
Major milestones in the transition to a hydrogen economy.

1. Production and importing

HyoffWind is a plant that converts renewable energy to green hydrogen.
HyoffWind (25MW)

This consortium in Zeebrugge is building a plant that will convert renewable energy into green hydrogen by 2024.

Plugpower (100MW)

A hydrogen plant in Antwerp's NextGen District that will produce green hydrogen by 2025.

Power to Methanol (8,000 tons)

Construction of a demo plant will start on the INOVYN site in Antwerp in 2023. This will produce methanol from captured CO₂ and renewable hydrogen. Methanol is a potential hydrogen carrier.

Importing energy and hydrogen

There is not enough wind or solar energy in Belgium and Western Europe. This means we need to import renewable energy from regions where renewable energy is available in large quantities. Hydrogen is the solution there.

How do you import energy?

You can import energy in the form of hydrogen bound to another molecule. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is committed to importing large volumes of sustainable hydrogen (carriers), such as liquid hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, synthetic methane and Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier. The latter substance is a pure transport molecule. At the port, we convert these substances back into pure hydrogen that we can use as a raw material or fuel.

The hydrogen import coalition aims to promote the production, transport and storage of hydrogen.

We are therefore committed to the global supply or importing of green hydrogen from countries such as Chile, Oman, Namibia, Egypt or Brazil. There is a surplus of green-generated energy there. Their global spread of these regions ensures that Belgium and Europe are less dependent on a small number of countries for their energy supplies. We expect the first imports of hydrogen in 2026.

 

To this end, we are joining forces with Deme, Engie, Exmar, Fluxys, and WaterstofNet in the hydrogen import coalition. This focuses on concrete projects that shape the production, transport and storage of hydrogen.

2. Infrastructure and distribution

Port of Antwerp-Bruges has the necessary infrastructure for receiving and further distributing hydrogen. This includes quays, terminals and pipelines. We are developing new infrastructure and increasing capacity.

Ecluse supplies residual heat to surrounding companies.

Industry uses both the hydrogen carriers and the hydrogen gas stored in them. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working on plants that extract hydrogen from hydrogen carriers.

3. Consumption

Both industry and transport at the port already consume hydrogen, ammonia and methanol today. For example, the chemical industry uses hydrogen in large quantities in the refining or production of chemicals. The market for green hydrogen and derivatives is growing rapidly: for reuse as a raw material, in heat production and heavy transport.

NextGen District

In NextGen District, a great many companies will be experimenting with new hydrogen-based technologies.

Alternative fuel

As the fifth-largest bunkering port in the world, we offer alternative fuels for shipping in addition to conventional fuels. Again, hydrogen is a good alternative here.

 

  • At CMB's petrol station in Antwerp, ships, trucks, cars and tractors can fill up with hydrogen. 
  • HyTrucks wants 300 trucks in the Antwerp port area to run on hydrogen by 2025.
  • Through the PIONEERS project, we are testing port equipment that runs on electricity, hydrogen or methanol.
  • Along with Port of Duisburg, we are facilitating the development of the hydrogen chain and hydrogen economy. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a member of the German foundation H2Global, which promotes the import of green hydrogen and wants to get the market going.
Hydrotug, the world's first hydrogen-powered tug.

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