Port of Antwerp-Bruges on the way to circular economy

2022/06/16 at 10:16 AM

Being a major European hub for containers, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is also planning to become a hotspot for circular companies. Therefore, two new production facilities will be erected in the NextGen District, an industrial zone within the port area that is devoted to implementing circular solutions. This will result in turning the Belgian port into a true hydrogen hub with an efficient water treatment plant.

By 2025, two new plants, one for producing green hydrogen and another for water treatment, will be commissioned in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges. They will be constructed by experienced specialists in the related areas: Plug, the US-headquartered developer of the green hydrogen ecosystem, and Ekopak, the Belgian company that is focused on optimising water consumption and water treatment. Both companies acquired the plots of land at the NextGen District for building the dedicated facilities. The total value of the two projects is 400 million euros.

NextGen District in the Port of Antwerp will be a base for the circular economy, source: Port of Antwerp-Bruges Authority / Tom Dhaenens

“These new investors are a confirmation of the attractiveness of our port and NextGen District, both nationally and internationally. These firms and their projects are exactly what we have in mind when developing this circular zone. After all, green hydrogen and circular water use are the basic elements of the climate transition. I am convinced that these projects will ensure that other change-makers will follow. I thank the firms for their trust and all the staff for making this happen,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Hydrogen production plant

Trying to achieve its strategic goal to become the world’s largest producer of green hydrogen, Plug is regarding the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the NextGen District in particular as a convenient location for strengthening its position in the European market. “The site location provides the opportunity for a ready supply of electricity from on-site and site-adjacent wind turbines generating dozens of megawatts, with an electric interconnection point less than a mile away. In addition, the site offers water, road, rail, and pipeline access for the delivery of green hydrogen to customers,” Plug explained its decision to conclude the 30-year concession agreement with the Belgian port.

The Antwerp facility of the American company will annually produce up to 12,500 tonnes of liquid and gaseous green hydrogen for the European market. “With this plant, we aim to help Port of Antwerp-Bruges become a European hydrogen hub,” added Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug. Moreover, the US hydrogen producer plans to make its new facility a part of a European open-access hydrogen network. To this end, Fluxys, the Belgian operator of the natural gas transmission system, will construct a dedicated pipeline.

Water treatment plant

Another investment to be implemented in the NextGen District is the construction of the water treatment plant by Ekopak, the Tielt-based water recycling company. The planned facility will convert the rainwater and wastewater from the inhabitants of Antwerp treated by Aquafin into a much higher quality level of sustainable cooling water that the industrial companies in the port can reuse. According to Ekopak, the water treatment plant will produce up to 3,000 cubic metres per hour of sustainable cooling and process water so that at least 20 billion litres of wastewater can be reused on an annual basis.

“We are going to build a circular water management plant with Ekopak technology in the NextGen District. This will be the model of the future for any industrial estate. We are very enthusiastic about this project, which we consider an important milestone in the development and implementation of grid-independent water solutions,” said Pieter Loose, CEO of Ekopak.

Related stories:

  1. Innovations to improve water quality in ports
  2. First multimodal hydrogen refuelling station opened in Port of Antwerp
  3. Moving waste: how rail contributes to circular economy in Switzerland

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