Pipe to go underground: starting signal for construction on Antwerp North Heat Network

On 20 December 2022, the first pipeline of the Antwerp North Heat Network was symbolically installed. Work on this large-scale heat network started in the autumn and will continue until the end of next year. From 2024 onwards, Boortmalt will be able to produce malt with the heat from the Antwerp North Heat Network. Network company Fluvius will then build a residential grid from this network. When that is realised, the residents of some 3,200 social housing units of Woonhaven in the Luchtbal and Rozemaai districts will be able to heat their homes with industrial residual heat. This means significant savings on fossil fuels and a reduction in CO2 emissions by as much as 80,000 tonnes a year. This heat network is a crucial part of the city of Antwerp's urban climate policy, which aims to make the city climate-neutral. This grid will be the first 'open access' heat grid in Belgium.

Heat grid with industrial residual heat

'Residual heat' is heat that is released from an industrial production process.  A residual heat network is an alternative to fossil fuel heating. It consists of a network of well-insulated underground pipes that bring hot water from one place (industry) to another (industry and homes) for various heat applications.

Antwerp North Heat Network utilises residual heat from Indaver's rotary kilns where industrial waste is thermally processed. In a first phase, Antwerp North Heat Network will serve industrial customer Boortmalt, which took a long-term commitment and will use the heat in its industrial process. In a second phase, Fluvius will link a district heating network to this, allowing schools, public buildings and 3,200 households from two districts in the north of Antwerp to source their heat supply more sustainably.  In total, the network will have a capacity of about 150 Gwh/year. Given this scale, the social importance of this project cannot be underestimated. This heat network is one of the instruments used by the City of Antwerp to realise its urban energy policy.  It is part of a city-wide heat network programme (Roadmap 2030).

In addition to each partner's investment, additional investment grants are necessary for the project to succeed. Both networks can count on Flemish subsidies. The Flemish government encourages the recovery of industrial residual heat for heat networks.

Heat network reduces CO2-emissions by 80.000 tonnes a year

The heat network is implemented in a closed loop. The heat is transferred at a temperature of about 105°C from Indaver to Boortmalt, some 10 km away in the port. Boortmalt uses this heat in the malting process. The cooled water (65°C) flows back to Indaver through a second pipeline to be reused. From the first part of the heat network, a second, so-called 'residential' network goes to social housing, but also to schools and public buildings in the Luchtbal and Rozemaai districts. This is also set up in a closed circuit so that no water is lost. By eliminating the need for Boortmalt and the residential users to use fossil fuels, a significant saving is made on natural gas. The transition from fossil fuel to waste heat also means a reduction in CO2 emissions of 80,000 tonnes per year (when the full capacity of the heat network will be utilised). This corresponds to the annual emissions of 25 000 Antwerp households.

Open access

Of particular note is that this network will be an 'open access' network. In other words, any company in the port that produces and/or wants to use heat can join even at a later stage. The pipeline network will run along, among others, the sites of the so-called 'Next Gen District'. Port of Antwerp-Bruges intends to cluster companies active in the circular economy on this site. These companies can deliver or take residual heat from the network. This is the first open access network to be realised in Belgium.

Collaboration with many partners

In order to provide climate-friendly heating to more than 3,200 social housing units as well as to facilitate the industrial heat consumer in its sustainability plans, cooperation was established with numerous partners. Indaver and Port of Antwerp-Bruges are jointly building the first part of the pipeline that will supply heat to Boortmalt. Fluvius is building the second, residential grid on behalf of and in cooperation with the City of Antwerp. For this, agreements were concluded with social housing company Woonhaven, among others. All agreements between the partners were signed in December 2021. The works are being carried out by the temporary association of companies Denys-Visser&Smit Hanab, 2 specialised contractors in sustainable energy transport.


"Flanders strongly believes in the valorisation of waste heat and actively supports this through the 'call green heat, heat networks and waste heat'," says Jan Jambon, minister-president of the Flemish government. "Heat network Antwerp North is a textbook example where surplus heat is put to good use both for industry and households. This makes us less dependent on fossil fuels and brings us closer to our climate goals. Moreover, this is an open source network to which suppliers and customers can connect in the future. A unique project in Flanders that deserves every support and will hopefully be widely copied."

Annick De Ridder, port alderman of the City of Antwerp and chairman of the Board of Directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges: "Our port is the economic engine of Flanders. Keeping that engine running as strongly but also as sustainably as possible is something we are working on very hard with the city and the entire port community. Making heat sustainable is an essential part of this. The Antwerp North heat network ensures an annual CO2 saving of 80,000 tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of 25,000 Antwerp households, and at the same time provides heat to heat buildings and create process heat for industry. In short, a collaboration that benefits both city and port, as well as the entire region."

We are proud to take up our to contribute to achieving climate objectives, says Indaver CEO Paul De Bruycker. "With the Antwerp North Heat Network, we ensure that residual heat from the processing of industrial waste is used efficiently. Our society gains doubly. We make industry in the port and families in Antwerp less dependent on fossil fuels and we save on CO2emissions by valorising the energy from our process to the maximum. For Indaver, waste is not an end product. It is a source of raw materials and energy. We engage in projects to give value to every joule from waste. And this while also offering a sustainable solution for our customers' waste. This is how we demonstrate that sustainable waste management is an essential link for the circular economy of today and the future."

"With the Antwerp city council, we want to halve emissions on our territory by 2030. Antwerp North heat network is essential for this," says Tom Meeuws, alderman for Environment Antwerp. "We are helping both households and industrial customers on their way to climate neutrality. By connecting social housing to the Luchtbal, this network embodies like no other the social climate transition we consider so important."

Tom Ceuppens, Customer Service Director at Fluvius: "The city-wide heat network of which this project is part is unique in Flanders. The largest city in Flanders is thus demonstrating how climate and energy transition can be tackled from a global urban vision with the support of Flanders. A heat network of this size, with fully sustainable heat, is only possible because of the choice the city has made to look at it from a social perspective together with Fluvius. Moreover, projects like this are only feasible if sufficient securities are built in for all parties - heat producer, grid operator, supplier and customers. In this way, both as grid operator and supplier, we can guarantee heat customers that affordable heat will always be available."

Rudy Clé, head of engineering at Woonhaven: "As a social housing company, we like to work on solutions to environmental and energy issues. Through the future heat network in the north of the city, Woonhaven Antwerp can guarantee a CO2-free heating system for around 3,200 families in Rozemaai and Luchtbal that is affordable and easy to use."

Yvan Schaepman, CEO Boortmalt: "Sustainability is at the heart of our business strategy. We are determined to help make a difference. We are working on a series of concrete targets in line with our SBTi 1.5°C commitment to halve our carbon footprint by 2030. But, we are taking it one step further and are already looking at how we can bring our emissions to ''0'' well before 2050. We also believe in the power of cooperation to achieve these ambitions. This project fits right into this approach and we are particularly proud of it, as Antwerp is our largest site and our headquarters are located here." 

Temporary association of companies Denys - Visser & Smit Hanab: "Warmtenetwerk Antwerpen Noord is a project we are delighted to see in our capacity as specialists in complex construction projects and infrastructure works.  In such projects, you can find the enthusiasm and creativity of our co-workers. This project fits perfectly within our objective of thinking along and helping to build sustainable solutions in the industrial developments of the necessary energy transition to protect our planet."

Contact for press:  Antwerp North Heat Network, Silvia Colazzo, communications manager
M. +32 476 63 18 27 email: silvia.colazzo(at)indaver(dot)com

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