In the Spotlight : Flemish companies' efforts to contribute to a greener world

  • November 4, 2021

In this feature in our monthly newsletter we usually present an inspirational person who has crossed our paths and has a professional link with Flanders. To mark COP26, we focus on the efforts of a few Flemish companies to contribute to a greener world. This month, we highlight hydrogen and biomass boilers. Stay tuned for two more companies next month! 


Hydrogen in the Ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge


The Ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge recently took part in a study researching the economic and technical feasibility of importing hydrogen. Working together in a hydrogen import coalition together with the Port of Zeebrugge and a range of utility companies active in Flanders, the idea is to sustainably create hydrogen in countries around the world where renewable energy is abundantly available. This hydrogen would then be transported in tankers, much like today’s liquefied natural gas, to Antwerp and Zeebrugge. There, it can be stored and used in industrial processes, transport, heating of homes, etc.

As the viability of importing hydrogen is studied further, the Port of Antwerp has decided not to wait and to take the first steps towards using hydrogen technology in its daily operations. It has commissioned the Hydrotug, the world’s first ultra-low-emission tugboat powered by hydrogen and diesel, which will start sailing around the Port from 2022. The results of switching just one fossil fuel-powered boat to a cleaner form of propulsion are huge: a conventional tugboat easily burns through about 700 litres of diesel per day!


Hydrotug 2

Justin Atkin, representative of the Port of Antwerp in the UK, told us that adapting well-oiled industrial processes can take a lot of effort, involving many different actors. Think about importing hydrogen: it takes a producer, a shipper, shipping crews, storage facilities, distribution networks,… to make it all work. The fuels we have relied on for so many years will have to be phased out in favour of greener and more sustainable sources of energy. We can all play our part in this transition. We can safely say that the fuel of the future is collaboration!


You can find more information on the hydrogen import study here.
More information about the Hydrotug can be found here.


Vyncke - biomass boilers in Scotland


Vyncke, fourth-generation energy experts based in Waregem, are a family-run multinational company specialising in harvesting energy from industrial waste streams. They investigate industrial processes around the world, and make sure no waste goes to landfill that could otherwise be re-used in the production process.

We are happy to highlight one of Vyncke’s flagship projects here in the UK: installing biomass steam boilers in the distillery of Aberfeldy, a Scottish whisky producer. Doing this has allowed Aberfeldy to adapt a production process fuelled by heavy fuel oil, to a production process that is run on cleaner wood pellets. These wood pellets are a by-product of the Scottish timber industry, of which there is plenty in the area where the distilleries are located. Using this type of fuel allows distilleries to catch two birds with one stone: they get rid of a fossil fuel-based energy source, replacing it with a product which would otherwise be going to landfill.

Vyncke has also worked with the Scottish timber industry to make sure that the excess energy created in their production processes is converted into two energy streams: heat – which is then used to power the big industrial dryers used to dry wood products, and electricity – which is fed back into the Scottish power distribution network.


You can find more information on Vyncke’s activities here.


Vyncke biomass steam boiler