To help Flemish companies bring innovative and fully-integrated energy products and – services to the international market, Flux50 sets up and coordinates living labs in five ‘innovator zones’. These zones reflect the thematic priorities of Flux50. A first innovator zone is Energy Harbors.
Market opportunities – Context of the innovator zone Energy Harbors
Harbor areas are destined to play a crucial role in the energy transition. They are at the crossroad of multiple energy vectors - electricity, heating, cooling, gas, hydrogen, bio fuels, etc. In addition they offer the opportunity to set-up circular economies and to valorize a large potential of residual heat. Harbors are also multi-modal nodes for transport, where rail, water, road solutions meet. Not only in a local and regional, but als in an international context they function as hubs for energy transport. Moreover, harbor areas are highly energy intensive due to a strong geographical concentration of large energy users and energy suppliers.
Harbors worldwide have put sustainability on top of their agendas. The 4 sea-linked harbors in Flanders (Antwerp, Ghent, Zeebrugge, Ostend) have clearly positioned their energy strategies in the last few years with e.g. major innovative projects on local energy generation (e.g. . Wind aan de Stroom, Terranova Solar), use of residual thermal energy (e.g. Ecluse), exploration of new opportunities for power-to-X (e.g. Greenports project Zeebrugge, CCU-Hub Ghent, Power-to-Methanol Antwerp) and international import of energy carriers (e.g. hydrogen coalition).
As such the Flemish harbors are searching for business cases to increase the sustainability of their energy system and their economic attractiveness. Port authorities play a leading role in this general trend towards an integrated energy approach in harbors.
Existing strengths of Flanders – Energy Harbors
Flanders has 4 harbors with direct access to the North Sea. Their economic importance can hardly be overestimated: in 2013 their total direct added value exceeded EUR 14,7 billion, the direct employment was 103.739 full time equivalents and EUR 3,0 billion was invested. With their strong ties to local knowledge centers and the Flemish chemical industry, our harbors offer a unique setting to launch integrated energy solutions into the market.
Focus of the innovator zone Energy Harbors
The innovator zone ‘Energy harbors’ focuses on the following break-throughs:
- Innovative solutions for local renewable generation of thermal energy (heating, cooling)
- Technologies and systems for thermal transformation, transport and storage linking different suppliers and users of thermal energy in an industrial harbor context. This includes the smart management and business models for flexible operation of these systems.
- The integration of large-scale renewable generation parks (e.g. wind, solar) in the specific harbor environment.
- Integrated control and management systems, using the growing amount of data from processes, energy technologies, energy networks, energy markets, etc. to optimize the interaction between different vectors as heat, cold, electricity, (bio)fuels, hydrogen.
- Innovations tackling the challenge for long term energy storage, e.g. with power-to-X; in this field the further coupling between the dynamics of the energy sector and industrial processes is relevant.
- Sustainable energy for harbor related transport: e.g. bi-directional shore power using renewable energy as an economically profitable solution for sustainable shipping.
- Advanced harbor infrastructures (e.g. locks, cranes) by using renewable energy supply and electrical storage.
- Innovative concepts/infrastructures for harbors as (international) energy hubs, forming an essential node in the energy landscape of the future, with links to the local energy infrastructures and international import of energy.
We notice that a growing amount of these solutions are only possible if tackled in a cross-sector initiative and if linked to circular approaches.