Rotterdam Port looks to capture CO2 in ambitious emissions reduction plan

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The Port of Rotterdam is taking its first steps in going green. On Thursday Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port, is meeting with almost everyone involved in the port on the ss Rotterdam to present two ambitious options for the port's energy transition, NRC reports.

The options were researched and brought together by the German Wuppertal Institute, which specializes in climate, environment and energy. Option one involves capturing all CO2 emitted by the port factories and storing it underground through carbon capture and storage (CCS) and replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. Option two is a closed system for the complete recycling of fossil materials for the chemical industry, in combination with renewable fuels such as hydrogen from wind energy. 

The massive Port of Rotterdam is responsible for 3 percent of the Netherlands' national income, and also for about 20 percent of the national CO2 emissions. If the port does not go green, there is no way that the Netherlands will be able to reach the climate goals set in the Paris Climate. The agreement states that global warming may not increase by more than 1.5 to 2 degrees this century. To achieve this, CO2 emissions must be reduced by between 80 and 95 percent compared to 1990 by no later than 2050. 

Castelein considers the renovation of the port as one of the Netherlands' biggest challenges for the next 30 years. He can't say which scenario will be adopted. "In my previous job at Shell I worked with a lot of scenarios, I know it is always a combination of measures. It is the result that matters, not how you get there", he said to NRC.

He believes that Rotterdam is well suited for the energy transition, and that the port can play a leading role. But it is important that a climate law is implemented with clear goals and when they must be achieved - reduce CO2 emissions by this much in 2030, and this much in 2040 etc., Castelein said. 

According to Castelein, the construction of new infrastructure is absolutely crucial. A network is needed to collect CO2 from the companies and transport it to empty gas fields at sea, as well as a network that collects waste heat and takes it to residential areas and greenhouses. He plans to have the first lines built within three years. 

Castelein is confident that many of the port companies will see that sustainability is a prerequisite for survival. And those who will not cooperate with the energy transition, will soon have no place in the harbor, he said.