New circular energy network helps power Antwerp’s port


The Ecluse project uses steam from incinerated waste to enable chemical companies to power their operations – cutting CO2 emissions and helping Flanders reach its climate targets

‘Everyone wins’

The first large-scale industrial steam power network in the port of Antwerp is now in operation, and should reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000 tons a year.

The Ecluse network delivers steam power from incinerating waste materials to half a dozen chemical companies in the Waasland harbour, on the left bank of the port of Antwerp, meaning they no longer need to produce steam for their production processes in their own boilers. It will supply at least 5% of all the green heat produced in Flanders, making it a key component in realising the region’s climate targets.

“Ecluse is invaluable to Flanders, particularly in the light of the challenges we face on climate and energy,” said Philippe Muyters, Flanders’ minister for economy and innovation. “Thanks to Ecluse, everyone wins: our society, through the undeniable environmental advantages, our entrepreneurs, through lower energy costs and security of supply, and our economy, as it gains ground in the chemical industry.”

The perfect heat chain

The network was created by waste processing companies Indaver and Sleco and energy distribution network manager Fluvius. When waste is incinerated at the two plants, it produces heat, creating steam that is transported via insulated pipes to five nearby companies: Ineos Phenol, ADPO, Lanxess België, Monument Chemical and Ashland Specialties Belgium.

Via a condensation pipe, warm water then returns to Indaver and Sleco, where it is reused. On the way back, it is used to heat the offices of DP World. The complete network of pipes is five kilometres long, of which four are underground.

Ecluse received €30 million, with one-third coming from the government of Flanders. “The Ecluse network is a very good example of how heat can be used,” said energy minister Lydia Peeters. “A waste processing plant produces valuable – and green – steam that via a heat network is directed to six energy-intensive companies. It’s an example of the perfect heat chain, as aimed for in the Flemish Heating Plan.”

Before even entering operation, the project won the port of Antwerp’s  2016 Sustainability Award, the Belgian Energy and Environment Prize in 2017 and the international Confederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants award last year.

Photo: Koen Broos