Ineos joins Fluxys project for Antwerp hydrogen network

British chemical company Ineos wants to build an open hydrogen network in Antwerp together with gas distributor Fluxys. The hydrogen network must serve as an alternative to fossil fuels. The Ineos factories may later become one of the largest customers of this hydrogen network.

Climate-neutral

Ineos is the first industrial player to sign an agreement with Fluxys to participate in a feasibility study for a hydrogen network. Other companies in the port of Antwerp should also be able to connect to the network, which could help them make the transition to climate-neutrality.

The European Commission considers hydrogen essential for becoming carbon-neutral.  Fluxys is therefore keen to match the supply and demand for hydrogen in the Belgian industrial clusters. This is a good thing for Ineos since hydrogen is an important raw material for the chemical industry.

“An open-access grid to which everyone can connect on an equal footing is certainly necessary”, says Raphaël De Winter of Fluxys. “We also provide connections between different industrial clusters and to neighbouring countries. We will conclude the contracts in early 2023 and then the construction will start.”

Fluxys is also planning similar hydrogen networks in North Sea Port, where an agreement is already in the pocket for connection to the Gasunie grid, and in the Walloon basins of Liège and Charleroi.

Controversial

Ineos, which previously already experimented with a hydrogen project in Antwerp’s port, plans to use the future hydrogen network mainly within its so-called Project ONE: a 3 billion euros investment in a plant that will make ethylene. According to CEO John McNally the construction of the ethane cracker is the biggest investment in the chemical cluster at the port of Antwerp in decades. Environmentalists point out that these plants are in themselves bad for the climate, something Ineos consistently denies with stats.

At the end of last year, Project One received a new environmental permit from the province of Antwerp, after numerous modifications. A condition of the permit is that Ineos must strive to become climate neutral within 10 years.

An appeal was lodged against this environmental permit by the international NGO Client East and 13 other NGOs. According to them, the basis of this project is fossil raw materials, such as shale gas, and there are local effects on nature and health. The province of Zeeland also went to court because it fears that the project will cause too much nitrogen to be deposited in nature reserves. The case is pending before the Flemish government for approval.

Energy transition

Fluxys, on the other hand, is not interested in producing energy as such. Its expertise is in the transport of gases, as it is managing Belgium’s natural gas grid today and the LNG terminal in the Port of Zeebrugge. With its investments in hydrogen, Fluxys wants to advance the energy transition and gradually transport more carbon-neutral gases in its infrastructure.

Together with Colruyt’s Virya Energy it also plans the first 25 MW hydrogen electrolyzer plant in Belgium.

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