This week, the port of Antwerp is taking another important step forward in the transition to alternative energy sources and a sustainable, low-carbon circular port. ENGIE, Fluxys, Indaver, INOVYN, Oiltanking, Port of Antwerp and the PMV – investment company of the Flemish Government - have established a consortium for the sustainable production of methanol, an essential raw material used by industry in the Port. Construction of a demonstration plant at the INOVYN site in Antwerp is scheduled to start by 2022, with the aim of producing 8000 tonnes of sustainable methanol annually, thus avoiding at least an equivalent volume of CO2 emissions.
Scoop for Belgium: production of sustainable methanol
Methanol is an essential multi-purpose raw material for the chemical industry, with many applications in wider industry as well. This key raw material is indispensable to the daily operation of the port of Antwerp as the largest European integrated energy and chemical cluster in the region. Currently, methanol is produced using fossil raw materials. The 'power-to-methanol' project aims to replace this with sustainably produced methanol, a first for Belgium. This methanol will be produced from captured CO2 and sustainably generated hydrogen. The carbon dioxide is captured by means of Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU), through which CO2 emissions are partially recovered and then combined with hydrogen generated on the basis of green energy produced from renewable electricity.
Strong consortium with international players and the Flemish Government
This week, a formal consortium called 'Power-to-Methanol Antwerp BV' was set up. In this important next phase of the project, the consortium will be working on all the necessary steps to prepare for the expected construction of the demonstration plant.
Each partner brings its own expertise to the project. For example, ENGIE has its knowledge of the electricity market; Oiltanking provides advice on the logistical aspects of methanol production and storage; and Indaver provides expertise on CO2 capture. Fluxys brings infrastructure experience and specific expertise with regard to the certification of green gases. The Flemish Environmental Holding Company (Vlaamse Milieu Holding) will provide part of the financing, while Port of Antwerp bridges the gap between private companies and the Belgian Government. As well as providing a site for the demonstration plant, INOVYN (subsidiary of INEOS) contributes to the project with the supply of hydrogen along with its chemical and electrolysis expertise.
Demonstration plant, good for 8000 tonnes less CO2 emissions
In the subsequent phase, due to start in 2022, a demonstration plant will be built on the INOVYN site at Lillo. The plant is expected to be operational in the same year.
The demonstration plant could produce up to 8000 tonnes of sustainable methanol. Future development could see increased volumes made available for wider industry use, including as a sustainable fuel for water and road transport. For every tonne of produced methanol at least an equivalent volume of CO2 emissions can be avoided.
Port alderman Annick De Ridder declared: "Our future prosperity will be sustainable, or there will be no prosperity. Innovation is key to tackling climate change. In Flanders we have a tradition of innovative entrepreneurship and as Port of Antwerp we play a pioneering role in serving as a testbed for technological and sustainable innovation. We combine this innovation with our strengths as a multi-industry port platform to promote promising applications such as CCU and hydrogen. In the meantime it gives a strong signal that Port of Antwerp is keeping to its transition agenda and working hard towards it, even during the Covid-19 crisis."
Hilde Crevits, Flemish minister for the Economy, Innovation, Employment, Social Economy and Agriculture: "Innovation is essential for the transition to a sustainable, circular economy. But collaboration is also crucial. The consortium demonstrates that by combining the know-how and expertise of different partners we can get a whole lot moving. As the Flemish minister for Innovation I can only be proud of this achievement. In this way we are putting Flanders on the map as a region that is going ahead fully with alternative sources of energy. I am glad to support this initiative through the Flemish Environmental Holding Company."
A spokesperson for the industrial partners commented: "The formal continuation of the ‘power-to-methanol’ project in the Port of Antwerp confirms the conviction of this group of cross-industrial players to pursue our cooperation. The project shows in a very practical and innovative way the importance of industrial symbiosis as part of the energy transition pathway. The different partners have the ambition to advance the energy transition and to strengthen their presence in the Port of Antwerp not only for the business of today but also for that of tomorrow."