Jan De Nul reveals ambitious CO₂ reduction targets

Jan De Nul Group has revealed its commitment to reduce CO₂ emissions by 15% a year during maintenance dredging works at the Nieuwpoort coastal marina. It is the first dredging company in the world to aspire to such a reduction in a commercial application for a project. In collaboration with the Flemish government, the company also wants to include by 2020 a minimum requirement of 15% CO₂ reduction in 80% of maintenance dredging contracts in Flanders.

Upon issuing an invitation to tender for the maintenance dredging works in the Nieuwpoort coastal marina, the Flemish governmental Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services gave the market maximum opportunities to focus on CO₂ reduction through innovation. Jan De Nul Group won the contract by promising to reduce CO₂ emissions by 15% annually. This is unprecedented in the sector. Never before has a dredging company aspired to such a CO₂ emission reduction target in a commercial application for a project.

Drop-in biofuel

Jan De Nul Group is focusing in particular on drop-in biofuel to achieve the ambitious CO₂ reduction target. This is a high quality, sustainable replacement of fossil diesel, made of vegetable oils or waste flows. The thing about drop-in biofuel is that engines do not have to be adapted in order to use it. Furthermore, not only are CO₂ emissions reduced, but far less fine dust is released in the air. Drop-in biofuel also burns a lot more efficiently than conventional diesel. Because drop-in biofuel uses waste flows as a raw material, it is also beneficial to the circular economy. Finally, it is a very clean fuel that is extremely suitable for high-grade engines.

With this approach and by choosing Jan De Nul Group, the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (known by the Dutch initials MDK), within the Department of Mobility and Public Works, has showcased its pioneering profile within the Flemish government to achieve the reduction targets. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, our country has committed to reducing CO₂ emissions by 15% by 2020.

Nathalie Balcaen, chief executive officer of the MDK: “As a maritime authority within the Flemish government, we want to focus on reducing our environmental footprint in every possible way. We therefore pay particular attention to green criteria when we define specifications for the market. This already leads to concrete CO₂ reduction today, particularly by paying attention to ecological performance during dredging works and to the contractors with whom we cooperate.”  

“The MDK pays attention not only to climate requirements when drawing up procurement contracts,” Nathalie Balcaen continues. “We assume our responsibility in the way we work as well. We are greening our own vessels as well in order to reduce our CO₂ emissions. For instance, we are in the process of building an electric boat.”

Reducing CO₂ sector-wide  

The project also is in line with Jan De Nul Group’s aspiration to play a pioneering role and to roll out a sector-wide CO₂ emission reduction programme. The dredging company wants to have a minimum 15% CO₂ reduction requirement introduced in 80% of maintenance dredging contracts in Flanders by 2022. “We want to make the utmost effort and, in doing so, inspire other companies in our sector to focus on energy or CO₂ reduction measures,” Bart Praet, Head of Dredging Works Benelux department at Jan De Nul Group, says. “We are therefore delighted to be engaged in dialogue with the Flemish government and the non-profit organization Vlaamse Waterbouwers VZW, and are working closely together with Zero Emission Solutions and the advanced sustainable fuel sector.”

The announcement of the targets comes shortly after the Flemish Government’s decision to agree to a three-year pilot project for testing the CO₂ performance ladder for government contracts. This ladder was developed in 2009 in the Netherlands as an instrument and certification scheme to stimulate CO₂ reduction, and turned out to be very successful. The Flemish pilot project will kick off in September 2019 and last until September 2022. The expected result is that contractors will be awarded contracts if they offer maximum quality, minimal CO₂ emissions and a fair price.

“We are convinced that Jan De Nul can play an absolute pioneering role,” adds Bart Praet. “We want to be one of the first contractors to make a significant contribution to the Flemish pilot project as well as one of the first to achieve actual CO₂ reduction in a project.”

Bart Praet: “Our project in Nieuwpoort is a concrete example of how we wish to launch a dialogue on reduction requirements.  We want to encourage our sector to quickly and forcefully come up with energy and CO₂ reduction measures through innovation.”

We want to make the utmost effort and, in doing so, inspire other companies in our sector to focus on energy or CO₂ reduction measures.

Bart Praet

Head of Dredging Works Benelux Department at Jan De Nul Group