Recommendations for pipeline infrastructure in North Sea Port to realize climate ambitions

Recommendations for pipeline infrastructure in North Sea Port to realize climate ambitions

In the cross-border port area of North Sea Port, research was conducted into the possible roll-out of a large-scale pipeline infrastructure for the transport of CO2, hydrogen, synthetic naphtha and heat. These pipelines play an important role in reducing annual CO2 emissions in the port area by almost 22 million tons in the next 5 to 30 years. And to achieve the transition to a climate-neutral industry by 2050, in line with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement. The study provides a number of recommendations for achieving this.​


To use reduce and use CO2, it is necessary to capture it from companies and use it as a raw material (Carbon Capture and Utilization - CCU). To get this CO2 to the place of destination, the construction of a pipeline infrastructure is needed. CCU is - in the different scenarios - not always immediately feasible. As a transitional measure, the capture and storage of CO2 will be required (Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)). The study is very clear about that.

Green hydrogen

To limit the capture and storage of CO2 (CCS) to a few million tons, a strong effort will have to be made to produce green hydrogen based on electricity. Up to 200 kton in 2030 and an exponential growth thereafter. This green hydrogen will be used to replace current hydrogen consumption (based on fossil fuels) and for new, innovative production processes. An important example of this is the Steel2Chemicals project in which residual gases from the ArcelorMittal steel plant are used as a raw material at the chemical company Dow Chemical.

More demand for electricity

To produce this green hydrogen, large quantities of sustainable electricity will also be required. The same applies to the replacement of natural gas by electricity for the production of heat. This increase equals the production of 2.7 GW at sea in 2030. Compared to the current electricity demand of industry in North Sea Port, this means at least a quadruple increase in 2030, with further growth thereafter. The electricity grid will have to be substantially strengthened for this, especially in the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal Zone. The connection of Dutch offshore wind farms within the port area is important in order to have sufficient renewable electricity.

In order to meet the increasing demand for hydrogen, hydrogen will also have to be imported in the long term.

Pipeline infrastructure inside and outside the port area

There are already many pipelines in the port area. Some pipes can be reused, while in many cases there will be new pipes. However, many existing routes can be used. The costs for the necessary network for the transport of CO2 and hydrogen within North Sea Port are estimated at 110 million euros.

This network must also be connected outside the port area, initially for CO2 transport. This is estimated at 95 to 130 million euros. The actual costs of this depend on the timing and the cooperation with the Antwerp and Rotterdam port partners.

Smart Delta Resources

To realize a cross-border pipeline network, collaboration will be necessary. On the one hand, between the authorities across the border so that the routes can be realized in terms of planning and legal requirements. On the other hand, a consortium must be formed between industry, network companies, governments and North Sea Port. The Smart Delta Resources platform will play an important role here.

Conducting research together

The research into pipeline infrastructure - the 'Clean Underground Sustainable Transport', or simply the CUST project - is a joint initiative of North Sea Port, the City of Ghent, Smart Delta Resources (Dutch and Flemish energy and raw material intensive companies that want to achieve a CO2-neutral industry in 2050), the Provincial Development Agency East Flanders, the Province of Zeeland and the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) and Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) in the Netherlands.