10 March 2022

In 2021, the Hydrogen Import Coalition was created: 7 big players of the Antwerp harbour collaborate, aiming to establish a renewable hydrogen import value chain in Belgium. Together, they intend to capture half of the CO2 emissions in the port by the end of 2030. With energy security heavily reliant on Russian export of coal, oil, and gas, the emphasis on rolling out national clean energy technologies has accelerated. 

Capturing green energy by the Schelde 

The Coalition is a project part of the wider Antwerp port plans on carbon capture and storage technology. After completing a feasibility study in 2021, it will go ahead to:  

  • Prepare the seaports’ infrastructure to receive the hydrogen carriers of the future; 
  • Seek maximum synergy to serve national interests; 
  • Set up specific pilot projects to make maximum use of the Flemish expertise and strength in the area of logistics, industry and technology. 

The European Commission announced at the end of 2021 that the coalition was one of the projects selected for grants from the European Innovation Fund. It is one of seven large-scale projects to be awarded more than 1.1 billion euro to get breakthrough technologies off the ground. 

The Coalition was subsidized with 9 million euro to make a detailed calculation of the cost of the basic infrastructure needed to enable CO2 capture, storage and, in the long term, reuse by: 

  • The basic infrastructure, consisting of a pipeline network for transport across the port’s territory 
  • The cost of building a terminal which will allow cross-shipping to empty oil or gas fields across Europe 
  • A pipeline to connect Antwerp to the port of Rotterdam, from where pipelines would leave for the Dutch gas fields 

Importing renewable energy sources for the future 

Belgium is ideally positioned to become a global leader in the hydrogen economy thanks to its extensive network of terminals and pipelines. The focus on renewable energy sources becomes more prominent, with solar and wind energy being key players. Added, hydrogen will play a role in the energy transition and making the Belgian industry sustainable. 

The objective is to establish a complete hydrogen import value chain by 2030. By creating ways of local production of green energy, Belgium establishes major opportunities for the future: 

  • A long-term sustainable green industry 
  • Added employment 
  • R&D innovation chances 
  • A low carbon future society 

Flemish grants encouraging cooperation and innovation  

Industry and electricity generation account for almost half of all CO2 emissions in Belgium. Enterprises active in any part of the hydrogen value chain can apply for grants when it comes to: 

  • Renewable energy production 
  • Hydrogen technology (production, transport, storage of hydrogen) 
  • System integration and grid operators (gas, electricity) 
  • Development of hydrogen applications 
  • End users of hydrogen (transport, chemistry, …) 

Enterprises facing renewal and challenges can receive support from experienced consultants at FI Group. With expertise in the field, Flemish projects focused on innovation can look for extra funding to make a difference in the industry: 

  1. Ecologiepremie+: a financial compensation to companies that will realize ecology investments in the Flemish Region 
  1. Onderzoeksproject: Flemish funds for expanding or strengthening R&D-activities 
  1. Ontwikkelingsproject: Flemish grants for the implementation of certain development projects 
  1. Kmo-groeisubsidie: supporting SMEs in Flanders in their own growth trajectory focussed on sustainable enterpreneurship (among other themes) 

The big 2022: funding and growing internationally  

Now that the study has finished, decisions are made regarding the investment in the project by the end of 2022. The project will be looking for funds on both a European level as a national level

In the long term, the Port of Antwerp sees the potential to prevent half of the 18 million CO2 emissions per year from escaping into the atmosphere. Initially, the intention is to safely store it underground, but in the long run, reuse: 

  • The captured CO2 from Antwerp to be transported by ship to empty gas fields in Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Denmark 
  • The link of a pipeline to the Porthos project in Rotterdam, and pump it from there via pipes into empty gas fields in the Dutch North Sea 
  • The encouragement of local and national projects to expand the network and strength of the seaports 

Flanders is positioned in a way to play a pioneering role in the hydrogen economy at a European level: it has the energy hubs of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, transportation infrastructure, an extensive network of pipelines to those ports and to Germany, and technology companies operating in it. The port has key assets to make it a leading player in the transition towards a durable society: 

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to support you in understanding and intercepting the available R&D+I opportunities. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse your project and to take the next steps together with you.

Yvette Poumpalova 

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