At Belgium’s Zeebrugge terminal, the skyline has seen a change lately. Two windmills were recently erected and now tower over buildings and cargo below. The windmills belong to WWL, and apart from showing the company’s strong commitment to reducing its CO2 footprint, they’re signalling a new green dawn at the port.

“More and more customers want every part of their logistics chain to be green, and honestly so,” says Filip Declercq, technical purchasing and maintenance manager at WWL in Zeebrugge. “You can no longer sell products that are not sustainable. It’s an attitude that’s growing, and everyone is getting more environmentally aware.”

The installation of the windmills is a result of this new attitude. WWL wanted to erect them seven years ago, but only recently did the company get everyone, including the port itself, on board.

“It’s difficult to install a windmill because you need a lot of permits, but if several parties want the same thing, the process becomes a lot easier,” Declercq says. “Our terminal neighbour Toyota, for example, is also installing windmills. It’s a green wind that’s blowing through the Zeebrugge port. We all want to be more sustainable, and once the ball starts rolling it cannot be stopped.”

The windmills, produced by Danish Vestas and installed by Dutch Eneco, will produce 15,000 megawatt-hours per year, which is enough renewable energy to power all of WWL’s facilities at the terminal as well as 6,000 homes nearby. “Our kilowatt usage at the terminal is very little compared to what the windmills can produce, which means   electricity is injected into the grid.” Declercq says.

The installation of the windmills is the latest of many sustainability initiatives that WWL has carried out at Zeebrugge. The company has installed LED lamps on some parts of the terminal and in its High and Heavy workshop, and is looking to install an EcoNation LightCatcher, which will project sunlight into the building from a mirror on the roof.

“The Castor Green vision is ambitious but not impossible,” Declercq says.

On the other side of the Atlantic in Baltimore, Maryland, WWL is also taking major strides in reducing its CO2 footprint by retrofitting all ships’ lighting with LED lights and replacing half of its fleet with electric vehicles, such as yard vehicles and forklifts.

“We have set up solar panel charging stations to charge all the electric vehicles, which means we’re actually taking renewable energy to charge our vehicles,” explains Michael Rye, head of North Atlantic Port Operations at WWL in Baltimore. “These are just some of the steps we’re taking to cut down on our overall emissions and carbon footprint.”

WWL in Baltimore is also getting ready to set up its first windmills. The electricity from the windmills will power the fumigation facility, and Rye sees this latest initiative not only as a good investment from an economic point of view but also as an opportunity to strengthen WWL’s brand as the leading green supplier.

“In Baltimore we’re the leading facility when it comes to environmental initiatives,” he says. “No one at the port has come close to what we have put in place. The Port Authority has recognised WWL for best practices. It’s one more feather in our cap, and hopefully it puts us at the forefront of our customers’ minds when they choose which logistics provider to go for.”


Facts about the windmills in Zeebrugge:

Two windmills produced by Danish Vestas and installed by Dutch Eneco

Mast height: 105m, blades 90m.  Maximum total height: 150m

Windmill foundation stands on 28 pillars

Works on 36 kV

Yearly production: 15,000 MWh = WWL’s needs plus those of 6,000 families

CO2 emission reduction: 6,840 T/year

CO2 for building and erection of windmills will be offset after one year

About one year elapsed between paperwork and the time the windmills were up and running

Collaboration between WWL, MBZ, Eneco and Portfineco

The windmills have an ice-detection system. 


Facts about the windmill in Baltimore

One windmill produced by XZeres Wind

Mast height: 43m. Weight 1,045kg

Blades: Three with rotor diameter of 7.2m and swept area of 42 square meters.

Windmill foundation will be a 170cm-deep reinforced concrete pad

Design life: 20 years

Yearly production: 12,000 kWh (Monthly: 1,000 kWh)

CO2 emission:  7.8 T/year

Power from the windmill will power WWL’s Mid-Atlantic Terminal fumigation centre.  Leftover electricity will feed back to the grid.