On 19 November 2021, the BENELUX Parliament’s Committees on Finance and Mobility and Spatial Planning, Environment and Climate visited the H2Ships project partner and pilot site Port of Ostend.
Welcome by Dirk Declerck
The delegation was welcomed by CEO of the Port of Ostend, Mr. Dirk Declerck who gave a presentation about the port of Ostend and its vision on making a hydrogen a central component of its energy plan. Mr. Declerck explained that PoO was a niche port which focuses mainly on wind energy, sustainable aquaculture and hydrogen. The port CEO stressed that these activities would ensure the long-term continuity and sustainability of the Port of Ostend. Citizen engagement is a core element of the port strategy and PoO intended to involve citizens by inviting them to various events.
The Port of Ostend is planning to install a hydrogen plant and – within the scope of H2SHIPS and ISHY, another Interreg-funded project addressing the shipping applications of hydrogen – a hydrogen refuelling station in the port to fuel ships but also other heavy-duty vehicles. At the end of his presentation, Mr. Declerck emphasised that the lack of green hydrogen could become a threat in the future because of an increasing demand and emergence of new applications and therefore asked the Benelux parliament to start discussions on blue and grey hydrogen.
Port Cruise on the Hydroville
Following the presentation, members of the parliament and the port were invited to a short cruise aboard the Hydroville – a hydrogen powered ship – while being informed by CMB (the oldest shipping company in Belgium) about their plans to diversify their fleet with hydrogen powered vessels. CMBTech, the engineering department of CMB, has developed a combustion engine that uses a mixture of hydrogen or ammonia and diesel. A transition solution – although not entirely green – that according to CMBTech allows to lower CO2 emissions significantly and is – in the short term – easier and less expensive to implement compared to alternative hydrogen propulsion system.
Meeting with stakeholders from the Ostend Science Park
After lunch, the members visited the Ostend Science Park. This site in the port of Ostend is home to several companies active in the research and development of the “blue economy”. The members were greeted by the company e-BO Enterprises that is active in the IT sector and provide services to the wind farm operators and to other offshore customers They are now building new offices in the Port of Ostend. The building is designed to be heated and cooled with hydrogen once enough green hydrogen is available.
In 1955, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg signed an agreement to establish the Benelux Interparliamentary Consultative Council (short: Benelux Parliament). The Benelux Parliament advises the governments an economic and cross-frontier cooperation and keeps the governments informed about opinions of the parliamentary assemblies. It is one of the institutions of the Benelux economic union and consists of members of the three national parliaments. The seat of the Parliament rotates between Brussels, The Hague, and Luxembourg.