Putting the Water-Energy Nexus to Good Use

Flanders is rolling out a large-scale, climate-friendly, district heating network in the south of Antwerp that uses warm water, rather than natural gas, to heat homes and businesses.

By Robert C. Brears

After the oil crisis in the 1970s, Belgium, and also Flanders, decided to make a large-scale transition to natural gas for heating houses and other buildings. During the 1990s, this led to a statutory obligation for the government to provide a gas connection in every new housing development. The outcome was 90% of Flanders being connected to the gas network. However, with climate change, as well as volatile prices and security of supply, heating by means of gas is no longer a valid option.

Warm water beats gas

A district heating network with houses and buildings supplied by already warm water has numerous advantages over gas, for instance, the energy is not generated in the houses and buildings themselves, but rather in a central installation, resulting in a significant CO2 reduction.


Antwerp’s new District Heating Network

Antwerp’s new district heating network will be fed by the waste incinerator of ISVAG at Wilrijk, with two phases in the project:

Phase 1: The grid will be built under a neighboring industrial site (Terbekehof). As a result, around 10 SMEs and companies will be able to heat their buildings and generate hot water

Phase 2: The network will be rolled out to a number of neighboring residential districts in Wilrijk as well as the city’s new district New South. The second phase will coincide with the installation of a new incinerator at ISVAG in Wilrijk

New South capturing every drop

New South, in addition to having the new district heating system, will be rainwater neutral, with rainwater infiltrating the soil naturally via a wadi system that in turn is connected to the footpath network. Meanwhile, rainwater from rooftops will be captured for reuse or infiltration.

The take-out

Water will play a key role in future district heating projects as we transition towards a carbon-neutral world.

**New ‘Blue-Green Infrastructure’ LinkedIn group here:https://www.linkedin.com/groups/10412555/

**New ‘Circular Water Economy’ LinkedIn group here:https://www.linkedin.com/groups/10416662/