Atlas Copco ZBC energy storage systems optimize the use of renewable energies at Antwerp Euroterminal

Experiencing the energy

13 September, 2023

Antwerp Euroterminal (AET), the biggest multipurpose terminal in Europe, is undergoing a vast energy transformation. Based at the Belgium’s Port of Antwerp-Bruges, which is the world’s largest roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) port, AET specializes in different types of cargo and processes including breakbulk, containers, project cargo, heavy lifts, cars and other RoRo units on a daily basis. To operate more sustainably, the terminal is reviewing its power supply infrastructure and energy use.

Central to its energy transition are four ZBC 250-500 energy storage systems from Atlas Copco. The innovative battery-based ZBC units are being used to store and deliver renewable energy to optimize consumption on-site and power the commissioning of thousands of cars. 

Pioneers in the transformation of power supply in ports

As society becomes increasingly environmentally conscious and governments worldwide pledge to reduce their environmental impact, ports are also looking to operate more sustainably to reduce their carbon emissions. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges aims to reach net zero by 2050 and become the world’s most sustainable port. 

Antwerp Euroterminal storage facilities for vehicles

Antwerp Euroterminal storage facilities for vehicles

The Port’s CO2 emissions are approximately 17 million tons each year, which is around 10% of Belgium’s entire CO2 output. In a bid to reduce these emissions and to reach its carbon-neutral goal, it is embracing renewable energy and innovative technology, and coordinating the PIONEERS consortium – part of the Green Deal of Horizon 2020.


PIONEERS is an international association of 46 partners, including Antwerp Euroterminal, who are working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ports . The terminal has already installed three wind turbines, which can generate 10.6 MW, and fitted solar panels, which will generate an additional 2MW of renewable energy. To ensure that the electricity generated from these renewable energy sources can be used flexibly, where and when it is needed, and regardless of the presence of wind and sun, the terminal has developed an energy storage strategy.

We are witnessing the transformation of the power supply before our eyes. In the past, we have been heavily net-dependent, but we needed an innovative solution that would enable us to store renewable sources of energy and allow our operations to be more independent from the power grid. Energy storage systems are ideal because they optimize the use of energy, reduce emissions, and help us to meet the Green Deal goals as part of the PIONEERS project.

James Deignan , Terminal Manager at Antwerp Euroterminal

A reliable energy storage solution would enable the terminal to efficiently manage various sources of energy, by integrating the use of renewables and limiting the required power output from the grid, and potentially bring significant savings to the end user.

The largest carport in the world

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the largest carport in the world and is extremely busy exporting and importing roll-on, roll-off cargo, including electric vehicles. In 2021, the port managed 2.2 million cars and it has a parking capacity of 365,000 units. Once the new cargo of vehicles arrives in port, they are unloaded and sent to specialized centers within the port where tests and inspections are conducted before onward delivery.

Four Atlas Copco ZBC energy storage systems installed at Antwerp Euroterminal

The four Atlas Copco ZBC 250-500 energy storage systems installed at Antwerp Euroterminal

James continues, “Currently, we have approximately 50,000 cars on the terminal’s quay and over 1,000 truck visits a day, with freight arriving by train, road, and water. We wanted to have a reliable energy storage system to power the commissioning of these vehicles, and to allow us to check their electronics and charge their batteries before they reach the market.”


Antwerp Euroterminal approached Air Plus for support, requiring a flexible, reliable, and sustainable energy storage solution. “Antwerp Euroterminal was looking for a versatile solution to increase its energy efficiency. It was a challenging project, requiring high energy needs, and the terminal wanted a mobile solution to integrate the energy input from various sources,” says Mark Adams, Sales & Marketing Director at Air Plus.

A custom-made solution based on Lithium-ion batteries

The energy storage systems needed to be able to store the energy coming from the various renewable sources and the grid and deliver it as required to ensure the correct functioning of the batteries and the electronic system of thousands of vehicles.

We were contacted by our partner Air Plus and challenged to go back to the drawing board and find a way to connect solar panels and wind turbines to our battery packs, to store that renewable energy and use it on-site. When there is a request for power, the ZBC energy storage system gets instructions to start discharging and delivering that energy. It can be used to charge and commission vehicles, but it can be used in other applications on-site at the terminal.

Pieter Willems , Business Line Manager at Atlas Copco
Installation of ZBC energy storage systems and Z Charger

Installation of ZBC energy storage systems and Z Charger

Leveraging the benefits of high-density Lithium-ion batteries, the ZBC energy storage systems enable Antwerp Euroterminal to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. By storing the wind and solar output, these units not only ensure efficient use of energy, but they reduce the overall fossil fuel consumption and consequently CO2 emissions.


Each system has a storage capacity of 537kWh and there are four systems on site, providing a total storage capacity of 2.15 MWh, which is equivalent to the average daily consumption of 232 families.


“Atlas Copco’s ZBC energy storage systems are modular and mobile. They can be moved around to be integrated into different solutions, with variable sources of energy. Since the terminal wants to transform its whole power supply structure, this flexibility was especially important,” continues Mark.

Atlas Copco technician operating the Z Charger

Atlas Copco technician operating the Z Charger

Atlas Copco's new Energy Management System (EMS), the ECO ControllerTM, delivers the stored energy when it is needed, optimizing its distribution, and making sure there is always enough power output. Having the ECO ControllerTM as the brain of the solution enables peak shaving with the power grid, flattening the load profile, covering low loads, and efficiently managing peak hours of energy demand.


Additionally, Atlas Copco has recently launched its own fast charger, the Z Charger. This innovative solution increases the charging rate by boosting the voltage so battery-driven electric vehicles and machinery can charge quickly. The Z Charger, with a rated power of 160kW, can deliver 7 times faster than an ordinary wall box, and 42 times faster than a regular wall charger.

Energy Storage Systems to become net independent

Initially, the ZBC energy storage systems were specified for use with vehicles, and since installing them, Antwerp Euroterminal has been able to efficiently commission and charge them, as necessary. However, the terminal has subsequently realized a wider benefit as the systems are contributing to, and having a vast impact on, the terminals’ energy transformation. The innovative solution has become a key component in the terminal’s understanding of its energy consumption, helping it to reduce its carbon footprint and achieving its goals as part of PIONEERS.

Atlas Copco ZBC energy storage systems and Z Charger

The energy storage systems offer much more than simply testing and readying cars. That is just the first step in making port operations and activities increasingly energy efficient. We have made these energy storage systems part of our wider electrical supply to achieve a more sustainable business. We are at the beginning of our battery journey, and I can only hope it is a considerable success.

James Deignan , Terminal Manager at Antwerp Euroterminal

Energy storage systems will be critical to future renewable power supplies worldwide, enabling all companies and wider society businesses to transform their energy usage and make their operations more efficient and sustainable. Everyone will be able to use energy more flexibly to meet their needs, by having it available at the right time, and in the right place. 

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