The energy transition task is clear: We aim to bring the Port of Rotterdam in line with the Paris Climate Agreement objectives. Together with companies, we are working in 3 steps towards a CO2-neutral port. Steps 1 to 3 are, respectively, efficiency & infrastructure, towards a new energy system and towards a new raw materials and fuel system.
Step 1: Efficiency & Infra
Step 1 Energy transition
Before society runs on a new energy system, there is still a lot of technology to be developed and scaled up. The first major step in the energy transition is therefore to use current sources more efficiently. According to studies, industry can save around 20% energy by optimising production processes, using better insulation, applying fuel savings or using alternative fuels, and above all by cooperating more intelligently with other companies. For example: one company has steam left over that another can use.
In the meantime, we are working hard on new technology needed to further improve the sustainability of the Rotterdam port area.
A lot of additional infrastructure is needed to improve sustainability in the Rotterdam port area in the coming years. This applies to various sites. The companies in the Rotterdam port area are currently closely connected. They supply products to each other via pipelines and cables. In the coming years, more and more sustainable products will be exchanged between companies, including steam, heat and hydrogen. We will also be generating more and more energy from offshore North Sea wind farms. The electricity generated by these wind farms needs to be transported to the high-voltage network on land. And finally, we will be capturing and storing CO2 beneath the North Sea. New technology is needed for this infrastructure too.
Step 2 projects - Towards a new energy system
Step 2 Energy transition
Over one third of the energy demand in our country comes from industry and is mainly used to generate heat for industrial processes or the production of electricity. Fossil fuels such as oil and gas are currently used for this. This releases a lot of CO2. For a CO₂-neutral port, oil and gas will then need to be replaced by electricity and hydrogen.
The industry can use electrification in various ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. This is particularly the case here:
- Replace grey electricity generated from fossil sources with green electricity based on, for example, solar and wind energy.
- Use green electricity to produce the heat needed in the process industry.
- Using green electricity to produce hydrogen.
The requirement for electricity in the port will only increase in the coming years. In order to be able to use electrification on a large scale in the long term, a great deal of green electricity is needed, especially from sources such as the sun, wind and hydropower. This electricity must also be affordable. And the port’s high voltage network will need to be strengthened.
This development has been set in motion, for example with the increase in the number of offshore wind farms and the landing of mainly wind energy on the Maasvlakte. The animation below lists the ins-and-outs of electrification.
Blue and green hydrogen
Large-scale production of hydrogen currently only takes place using natural gas. We aim to capture and store the released CO₂ beneath the North Sea. This method creates blue hydrogen. After 2030, large-scale production of green hydrogen will also be one of the options. This green hydrogen is made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is called electrolysis. Electrolysis requires a lot of electricity. When the electricity used is generated by a wind farm, this process and product is entirely sustainable and the hydrogen is known as green hydrogen. However, we currently do not have sufficient wind power available. That is why green hydrogen will only be one of the options after 2030.
Renewable energy such as wind and solar power is crucial for a CO₂ neutral port. The Port of Rotterdam considers it vital that companies in the port generate more electricity from renewable sources. Where possible we must use solar power. Company buildings in the port area are therefore increasingly being equipped with solar panels. Solar panels on company buildings are good for the environment and result in lower energy costs.
We are increasingly switching to sustainable energy sources, mainly solar and wind power. However, energy can also be obtained from the deep subsurface. Every 100 metres the ground is approximately 3 degrees warmer. This geothermal heat is also an alternative for fossil fuels.
Together with NAM, the Port of Rotterdam is examining the opportunities for a geothermal heat source in the western port area. If the heat (approx 170 degrees) is brought to the surface as hot water, it can be used as a renewable source of energy, particularly for the production of steam for industry.
The port of Rotterdam is an important port for the import of biomass to Europe. Wood pellets, the main product group for biomass, are mainly used in the European heat and energy market. Excellent connections for supply and transit, processing of biomass in the port, existing cargo flows and specialised transhipment and storage facilities make Rotterdam an attractive biomass hub.
STEP 3 - TOWARDS A NEW RAW MATERIALS AND FUEL SYSTEM
Step 3 Energy transition
The road to a CO₂-neutral future is no easy and quick task for an industrial logistics complex as Rotterdam-Moerdijk that operates on a global scale. It concerns a radical transition, in which many interests are at stake. As part of the national climate agreement, a working group with representatives from the business community, science, administration and social organisations has also set out a route for the Rotterdam-Moerdijk industrial area that introduces far-reaching innovation.
In the circular economy, production, innovation and recycling are key issues. Products and substances are reused as far as possible. The Rotterdam port area, with its many circular companies and projects, is an attractive region for the circular economy. Extensive connections with the hinterland offer a strong starting position for the reuse of waste streams. Green hydrogen will be used on a large scale as energy for industry and raw material for the chemical industry. The port will also be an important import port for secondary raw materials (waste, plastic) and sustainable biomass. In addition to hydrogen, carbon is also needed to manufacture products. This requires the cooperation of parties throughout the production chain: obtaining raw materials, product design, production process, repair, reuse and recycling.
Together with others, the Port Authority is exploring how to handle raw materials. We are investing in, facilitating and advising potential coalition partners. We aim to support existing industry in the transition from fossil fuels to bio-based and circular, while also attracting new industry.
Recycling and biomass
Mechanical recycling is the most environmentally and cost efficient way of converting plastics so they can be properly recycled. The growing demand for high-quality raw materials for new plastics has resulted in a need for further expansion, scale-up and professionalisation of recycling capacity in Europe. The presence of primary plastics manufacturers and the large supply of waste and sorted flows make the Rotterdam region an interesting location for high-quality mechanical recycling.
In addition to mechanical recycling, chemical recycling technologies offer the opportunity to convert non-recyclable plastic waste into products such as polymers, fuels, waxes, aromatics or synthetic gases.
TRANSPORT AND DIGITAL SOLUTIONS
The Port of Rotterdam’s leading position as Europe’s largest port is partly due to its excellent accessibility by sea and good connections with the hinterland. But these high sea and inland shipping volumes also result in CO₂ emissions. That’s why the Port of Rotterdam Authority is taking the initiative to improve the sustainability of the logistics chains in which Rotterdam participates. We do this using such things as digital tools to ensure that vessels sail more efficiently, promoting the use of electric motors and electric cranes and by stimulating transition fuels such as biofuels and LNG. These transition fuels will be replaced in the long term by hydrogen and synthetic fuels.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority’s Incentive Scheme for Climate-Friendly Shipping is stimulating the use of sustainable fuels in shipping. The Port of Rotterdam Authority initiated the Incentive Scheme for Climate-Friendly Shipping to create demonstration and other projects in Rotterdam in which new climate-friendly fuels are used in sea-going shipping. In total some € 5 million is available for shippers, shipping companies, fuel producers and suppliers, motor manufacturers and vessel owners. The scheme will run until the end of 2022.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority rewards vessels that have a Green Award certificate by offering discounts on port dues. The Green Award is a quality mark for vessels that meet high requirements with respect to safety and the environment.
Read more about Green Award Discount
We are working towards a CO2-neutral port in partnerships with companies. This demands radical innovation and new technologies. We test innovations in practice, apply new techniques and link existing companies to new ones. In the meantime, we are already taking measures to reduce emissions as far as possible in the short term. The following ongoing projects show that the Port of Rotterdam is working full steam ahead towards the energy transition.
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