Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) are broadly seen as instruments that could help achieve climate change targets by emitting a lower net-amount CO2 into the atmosphere. The process of CCS consists of three steps which are capturing, transportation, and storage. In 2018, there were 43 large-scale CCS facilities, of which 18 commercially operational, 5 under construction, and 20 in various stages of development.
Port ecosystems have developed a keen interest in the large-scale application of CCU and CCS solutions as these are indispensable in view of meeting the CO2 reduction targets. Some examples of projects in Flemish ports in Belgium are provided below.
The discussion on Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) in Flemish ports started in 2011 in consultation with the Flemish Institute for Technical Research (VITO), the Belgian Geological Service, and the Environment, Nature, and Energy department of the Flemish government. The study “Towards CO2-neutral industry in Flanders – the role of Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS)” created momentum among policymakers and the Antwerp port community to move in this direction. A CCU-hub was founded within the Cleantech Cluster. The Cleantech Cluster wants to connect economic, ecological, and social considerations through clean technologies and stimulate the transition from a linear to a circular economy.
In early 2019, the Port of Antwerp launched an initiative to bring different players together to produce sustainable methanol. The pilot project aims for 4,000 to 8,000 tonnes of sustainable methanol per year. Methanol is an important raw material with multiple uses in the chemical industry and also has many applications outside of it. The idea is to produce methanol from waste CO2 and sustainably generated hydrogen. The waste CO2 will be collected by Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) in which at least some of the CO2 emissions are recovered. This CO2 is then combined with hydrogen generated on a sustainable basis using green energy in a new electrolysis plant.
A 2019 study provided a detailed analysis of the possibilities for Carbon Capture & Utilisation for the port area of North Sea Port Flanders. With a view to creating a circular economy, AM Ghent is focusing on so-called Carbon Capture & Use techniques (CCU) so that CO2 can be used as a raw material for numerous applications. On the one hand, CO2 can be used in pure form, for example, in the food industry or as a coolant. On the other hand, the CO2 can also be used in production processes, such as a basic raw material in the chemical industry, for the production of biofuels, or after carbonation in building materials. A good example is Steelanol, a CCU project of AM Ghent in partnership with LanzaTech (who licensed the technology) focusing on the biological transformation of CO linked to the steel production process into bioethanol. The construction of a new installation for converting carbon-containing gas from blast furnaces into bioethanol started in June 2018 on the site of AM Ghent in the North Sea Port Port area. It is the first installation of its kind on an industrial scale in Europe. Commissioning and first production is expected by mid-2020.