Energy and environment

As a port, we connect Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium and Europe with the world. We provide the infrastructure for transporting goods from point A to point B. But we don’t do it without careful thought. We do it with a weather eye on, working with the whole of the port community.
The companies that operate at the port have to take measures to reduce pollution of the air, the water and the soil. They are constantly looking at their transport capabilities, their waste production and their consumption of energy so that they can ferret out more sustainable solutions.

Hydro tug, the world's first hydrogen operated tug


Port of Antwerp has ordered construction of a tug powered by hydrogen, the first in the world. This unique "Hydrotug" is driven by combustion engines that burn hydrogen in combination with diesel. The motors also comply with the very strictest standard, the EU Stage V, making them the lowest-rated for emissions on the market.


This ultra-low-emission tug is being built by Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), a pioneer in the field of hydrogen power for shipping. With this world first Antwerp is making an important step in the transition to a sustainable, CO2-neutral port.



Ecluse: a steam network with residual heat


Ecluse is a steam network that will supply the heat from six incinerator facilities in the form of steam to the nearby port companies. This will enable them to heat their buildings sustainably. It also offers a host of benefits for the environment: over time, 100,000 tons of CO2 less will be discharged into the air each year.


At the Port of Antwerp we actively encourage companies to join the circular economy. For instance, land in the Churchill Industrial Zone, the former site of General Motors Belgium, is available for lease to companies that operate in the circular economy.



Shore-side power for better air quality

By using shore-side power, when ships tie up at the quayside, they are able to turn off their diesel generators and switch to mains electricity. The use of shore-side power means that emissions (NOx, SOx and fine particulates) from ships in the port can be reduced to a minimum. Which is yet another way we are working to achieve better air quality at the port itself, as well as in the city.


There are nine locations on the Noordkasteeldok where shore-side power cabinets have already been available to inland vessels for some while. The Port of Antwerp’s own fleet has also been using shore-side power for some time now.


Power sockets for oceangoing ships


The next step is to offer shore-side power to oceangoing ships. The average oceangoing ship emits approximately 18 tons of CO2 during a visit to port. That is a huge amount – as is the power that these ships consume. For this reason, the amount of mains electricity required has to be calculated based on these needs, as does the entire technical infrastructure. This means there is a great deal to consider when offering shore-side power to large oceangoing vessels.


To cater for this need, the Port Authority signed an agreement in March 2018 with Alfaport-VOKA and five technical partners, which will make their expertise available to make shore-side power at our port a possibility.


More about onshore power


Energy-neutral lock: the hydro-turbine


As a result of the tides on the Scheldt, there is often a significant difference between the water level in the Scheldt and the level in the docks. This is why the sea locks were put in place, so that the water level in the docks can remain the same and also so that smaller ships can be loaded or unloaded at any time of the day.The Port of Antwerp currently has seven sea locks, through which a huge amount of water passes every day. This flow of water can also be used to generate electricity.


We install a turbine with a vertical shaft in a water discharge channel. In actual fact, it is a screw that uses the force of the displaced water to generate energy. That way, a generator is able to provide the electricity required and, over time, the whole lock should be able to operate energy-neutrally.” Matthias Lootens, maintenance engineer for the Port of Antwerp


Innovative iNoses identify strange odours in the port


Is there a funny smell hanging about the port? It could be caused by any number of things. Such as the degassing or loading and unloading of ships. It could also be from the normal residues released during industrial processes. And while one person thinks it stinks, for another there’s barely a smell to be detected. Odours – smells, call them what you will – are and remain a subjective thing. To be able to give an impartial answer to the identity and origin of these strange smells, in 2013 the Port of Antwerp began work with dotOcean to develop iNoses. 


23 smart noses


23 iNoses have been installed at the Port of Antwerp since 2017. These smart iNoses constantly measure and monitor changes in the air composition and are capable of identifying patterns, known as ‘fingerprints’. By comparing them with the fingerprints of known chemical substances, the iNoses are able to identify what they are. They are also equipped with little canisters that enable samples of air to be taken remotely. Chemical analysis then confirms what the substance is, which is of particular value should there be an incident.


Plenty of spadework still needed


Detecting and identifying chemicals in the port atmosphere is very different from working in the sterile conditions of a laboratory. In other words, there is still along way to go to achieve optimal analysis of the air. Which is why at the moment the results still need to be assessed with a degree of caution. In fact, there is still plenty of spadework for the iNoses to do before they can correctly identify the substances with greater accuracy and detect the quantities correctly. The iNoses are put to work on a daily basis to detect and identify chemicals. Equally important is that, over time, they will also provide an insight into any hotspots and emission trends in the port. This knowledge will then help make targeted policy choices in terms of the environmental policy applied.