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A global energy transition

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The Netherlands continues to play a vital role in the petrochemical industry and aims to keep this position for the future.
This was reiterated at the 28th annual Opslagtanks conference in Rotterdam, organised by the International Institute for Research (IIR). Key themes included energy transition and safety and which three words were the areas the industry needs to focus on: communication, trust and together.
Arjen Littooij of Veiligheidsregio Rotterdam-Rijnmond launched the conference by stating how important it is that businesses in the region learn from each other. A great example is the ‘just culture’ concept in aviation, whereby the industry learns from each others’ mistakes. Accidents or near-accidents need to be discussed in an open and trusted environment so that everyone can learn from it. Littooij said this programme would be great for the petrochemical industry as the safety culture needs to be transparent.
Margit Blok, from VTTI and Betty Zaaijer from Vopak then discussed the meaning of the ‘Urgenda’ verdict for the storage industry. The Urgenda foundation brought the Dutch State to court for a climate case as they believe the state needs to be more proactive in lowering emissions. The emissions need to be reduced by 25% in 2020 compared to 1990.
In October 2017 the Dutch Court ruled in favour of the Urgenda foundation. Blok and Zaaijer argued that it is challenging to reduce emissions by 25%. Questions from the audience focused on whether the storage industry should invest in reducing emissions by adding extra chemical processes. However, this would be very expensive. Blok and Zaaijer said that the storage industry could help with VOS emission reduction, ZZS minimising and NOx emission reduction. However, an integrated policy was seen as the best option as all emissions are linked.
Femke Brenninkmeijer from the Port of Amsterdam then explained how the port is focused on the energy transition and sustainability. She said that Amsterdam has a great network for storage, which has grown significantly since Vopak joined in 2011. All storage industry players are in Amsterdam, she said, and all have great expertise which needs to be used for the future.
Port officials see a great energy potential from wind generated at sea from the Tata wind farm. They also see a region that will demand more energy in the future and said that the port aims to be that link. Brenninkmeijer said that the challenge facing the industry is the transition to H2 (hydrocarbon) yet there hardly is any H2 in the area. The key question is how can we prepare for this, she added.
Vopak’s Martijn de Gier says that the energy transition is very different in each region of the world. In the Benelux region for example, there is a focus on CO2 emission reduction. De Gier states that there are strong reasons as to why the energy transition is a great opportunity for the Benelux region.
Europe is an importer of energy, wind and solar as there is not enough in this region to serve energy demand for the whole continent. In order to do so, a stable and sustainable network to transport it is required. Additionally, new energy sources are also emerging such as LNG and H2. He said that the storage industry is an imbalance position, but no matter the circumstances, the industry will always adapt.
Sandra de Bont from Votob added that no matter what the new energy transition will entail, the storage industry will need to continue to adjust and that the key is to keep incorporating smart technologies.
The second day opened with Peter Vucins, director EMEA at GPS Group, who discussed growth opportunities from the perspective of private equity investors. GPS sees great potential in LPG and small to mid-scale LNG projects in the future. LPG in particular is experiencing high growth, especially for domestic purposes and the main geographical focus is Southeast Asia.
Vucins said: ‘Longer-term, GPS believe that new storage solutions also will be required in mature markets as a consequence of a higher share of renewable energy in order to balance demand/supply and to mitigate opportunity losses for power producers and traders.’
Other sessions included an update on the PGS 29 regulation, robotic tank inspection, the use of augmented reality as well as a tank fire demonstration at Falck’s fire academy.
Overall, Opslagtanks was a great platform for delegates to discuss how the industry can ensure a strong focus on making existing infrastructure compliant and how to future-proof it.
By Lisa Mattes