Double first with 100% sustainable beach replenishments in Belgium

Jan De Nul helps Flemish Government with its climate ambitions

Jan De Nul Group is the first dredging company to carry out 100% sustainable beach replenishments. Moreover, this world first takes place at the Belgian coast. From 1st February, Jan De Nul will deposit about 500,000 cubic metres of sand on the beach of Raversijde by order of the Agency for Maritime Services and Coast (MDK) of the Flemish Government. The equipment that Jan De Nul will use for these dredging and earthmoving works, meets the strictest sustainability standards.

The  ambitious targets that Jan De Nul Group is achieving are thanks to a sustainable course that the dredging company has been following for some time. During mid 2019 Jan De Nul Group contractually committed to reducing its annual CO₂ emissions by 15% during the maintenance dredging works in the coastal marina of Nieuwpoort, also commissioned by the MDK Agency. Never before has a dredging company achieved a CO₂ emission reduction of this magnitude in a commercial application on a project.

“The MDK Agency gives us another opportunity to show the industry that these ambitious targets are achievable. And we are quite proud of that,” says Bart Praet, Head of Dredging Benelux. “If you apply all the technological possibilities available today, you will have come a long way on the transition path to the 2030 targets. We hope that other governments will take note of this example and will do their utmost to ensure that tenders are awarded to companies offering sustainable solutions.”

Better air quality thanks to advanced biofuel and emission reduction of up to 90%

Jan De Nul Group is using sustainable fuel for the dredging works in Raversijde. During the works, the dredger Pedro Álvares Cabral will sail on 100% sustainable drop-in advanced biofuel. That is a sustainable replacement for fossil diesel, made from oils from plant waste and not from food crops. ‘Drop-in’ means that these engines do not need modification in order to be able to use this biofuel.

This sustainable variant not only reduces CO₂ emissions, but also releases significantly less particulate matter into the air. The combustion is much more efficient than the combustion of conventional diesel. Because drop-in biofuel uses waste flows as resource, it is also beneficial to the circular economy.

For the earthworks on the beach, Jan De Nul is mobilising the most advanced bulldozers and excavators, all equipped with exhaust gas filter systems. And the project management team on site will have the latest generation of ecological site offices at their disposal, equipped with well-insulated materials and a heat pump.

As a result, Jan De Nul Group reduces its CO2 emissions by 90% and its NOx emissions and energy consumption in the site offices by 80%.

“We have already used this sustainable biofuel for various vessels in the Benelux,” Michel Deruyck, Head Energy Department at Jan De Nul Group explains. “Of all the dredging companies, we certainly have the most experience with this fuel.  Meanwhile, we are not standing still and we are also looking at possible alternatives. We strongly believe in diversification, using different types of sustainable, carbon-neutral fuels for our fleet in order to drastically reduce our emissions. Decarbonisation is high on the agenda at Jan De Nul and is supported throughout the company, commercially, operationally and technically. We always strive to go beyond what we are supposed to do. We go for zero.”

Decarbonisation is high on the agenda at Jan De Nul and is supported throughout the company, commercially, operationally and technically. We always strive to go beyond what we are supposed to do. We go for zero.

Michel Deruyck

Head Energy Department Jan De Nul Group

Jan De Nul helps realise the Flemish Government’s climate ambitions

With this approach, and by choosing Jan De Nul, the Agency for Maritime Services and Coast (MDK) once again demonstrates its pioneering role within the Flemish government when it comes to achieving the reduction targets for Belgium. Within the Flemish Climate Strategy 2050, Belgium aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, compared to 2005.

"As the maritime partner of our Government, we want to do all we can to limit our environmental impact. That is why we pay special attention to environmental criteria in our public tenders. Today, this is already leading to concrete CO₂ reductions through the environmentally friendly execution of dredging and replenishment works based on the initiatives of the contractors we work with," says Administrator General Nathalie Balcaen.

After Raversijde, the works in Knokke will start

At the end of February, the team and equipment will move to Knokke for a six-week beach restoration at Duinbergen. The beach will be reclaimed with some 900,000 cubic metres of dredged sand to protect the coast from the sea. These works are part of the ‘Coastal Protection’ Master Plan.

For the realisation of the works, MDK applies the principle of 'soft where possible, hard where necessary'. Wherever appropriate, MDK will create a wider and higher beach, and where there is no other option, the agency will install storm walls or storm surge barriers.

However, beach replenishment still remains the most effective measure to protect the coast from flooding, even though this method regularly requires maintenance. Moreover, replenishments create a natural environment where not only people, but also fauna and flora can have their place. After Raversijde and Duinbergen, the beaches of Bredene and Wenduine West will be restored in spring.

Learn more at the information centre in Knokke

Curious passers-by have the opportunity to learn more about the works and the ambitious objectives of the Flemish Government in the information centre, which was especially set up for this purpose on the seafront in Knokke. From the panoramic roof, they have a unique view over the works.