Matthias is in tune with society

Tuesday 08 01 2019

Can a sea lock be completely energy-neutral? Engineer Matthias Lootens thought it could and came up with an innovative idea: the hydroturbine. In this way he contributing towards a sustainable port.

Maintenance engineer Matthias Lootens has been working at Port of Antwerp for eight years now. Currently he is testing out whether a sea lock can operate in a fully energy-neutral way. With this initiative he is contributing towards our ambition to develop alternative energy sources, in addition to the existing wind and solar technologies.

"Port of Antwerp has seven sea locks, each of which is also able to regulate the level of water in the dock behind it by letting water flow through the drainage channels," Matthias explains. "There is actually a huge flow of water, due to the tidal rise and fall of the river Scheldt. Our project team is now looking at how we can use this to generate electricity in the Kallo lock. This is the first time that a sea lock has been equipped with such a system." 

"We hope to learn a great deal from the test phase. This will be followed at the end of January 2019 by an evaluation period. If the tests are successful we will install a generator and the hydroturbine will be connected to the grid. The Kallo lock currently has an annual energy consumption of around 500 MWh. Depending on the output that can be achieved, by 2020 we should have one or two turbines enabling the Kallo lock to operate entirely on hydroelectric power. In a further stage we should be able to make the surplus electricity available to the rest of the port platform."  

"Our ambition is to equip several locks in the port with hydroturbines. The trial project is a first step in that direction. This is one of the many exiting initiatives that Port of Antwerp is taking in the transition to a sustainable port, along with onshore power supplies for ships at berth, wind turbines, solar panels, ISO 50001 certification and more besides." 

"For me it's fantastic to do a job that I believe in," Matthias concludes. "I hope that our trial project will inspire others to think about the question of energy. Everybody says that we will have to tap other forms of energy, but actually doing something about it is not so simple. With this project Port of Antwerp shows that we can play a pioneering role, by taking practical steps and making the necessary budget available."