From energy waste to energy source

A column by Max van der Meer, European Operations Director Huntsman Polyurethanes and Managing Director Huntsman Holland

Visionary leaders are willing to do things differently and have the ability to look beyond their own company borders. In my opinion, that is what we need to see in order to exploit the economic and sustainable possibilities the port of Rotterdam has to offer. The days people and companies were only concerned about their own business are over. Or better said, these days should be over. It is time to cooperate better so we can share our knowledge and benefit collectively in an integrated green industrial complex.

Take, for instance, the chemical cluster in the Botlek where also Huntsman is located. A unique location, because all the companies are gathered closely together, which distinguishes  the port of Rotterdam from other ports and business complexes. Here in the Botlek, the energy waste of Company A could be of great value for Company B, because energy costs are high in Northwest Europe and the odds these prices will drop in the near future are minimal.

Energy integration, however, is still in its infancy in the port of Rotterdam. The main obstacles are the companies themselves. They have trepidation to directly depend on other energy sources besides their own. Depending on other businesses’ energy remains, like steam, raises the question about the quality and terms of delivery: is the steam of the same nature and what happens if the plant of company A falls out? Does this mean a total breakdown for all companies that depend on this energy source? Questions of this nature will become less relevant if boards are able and willing to see the bigger picture.

But changes or, better said, a mental shift like this does not happen overnight. So I see it as my responsibility to show this bigger, sustainable and greener picture to the whole business. Because today we have to start working in a different way, if  we want to profit from it over 3 to 5 years. Meanwhile we at Huntsman continuously work on reducing our CO2 emissions. At the moment we translocate our freight entrance to dock sight, this saves thousands of kilometers on a yearly basis. Relatively small adjustments, but with a significant impact. I therefore challenge other companies in the port of Rotterdam to get out of their comfort zone and open their eyes for  every small and major possibility that comes along.

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