It’s an early Friday morning when two YES-DC vans depart from the city of Utrecht on their way towards Gent, Belgium. Goal of the day is to get to see some parts of the biomass supply chain that comprises an important part of the Belgium biomass capital that Gent is nowadays. Part of our program are the Electrabel 100% biomass plant and the bio-based Europe pilot plant facility, which is to be concluded with an informal program downtown.
Thanks to our drivers Frank and Berry we quickly make our way towards the Belgian border. Localizing the correct power plant, however, doesn’t seem that straightforward as one would expect (conventional pathway: just follow the overhead lines) since there are two plants in the same neighbourhood with a canal in between. Some indepth research and phone calls are urgent but decently executed by our trip planner Michiel who finally steers us towards the right direction.
At the plant we receive a warm welcome and the well-known hats and safety glasses.. Of course with some belgian chocolate. Our guide invites us to absorb some detailed information on the history of Electrabel, their renewable energy policy and the Rodenhuize plant. After this pleasant introduction we start making our way towards the plant. First of all we get to see the silos and hammer installations, which were installed only a few years ago after the retrofit of the original coal-fired plant. The interior of the plant is still original where we see the turbines, control room and the heaters. We conclude our tour outside with a group picture.
Lunch is served at the local road restaurant after which we set sail towards the Bio Based Europe Pilot Plant, which is a research facility on bio-based products and processes. The building was refit recently (the fire department used to be located there) and it’s impressive to note how an old building can be assigned a new functionality. One of the employees explains us their business and tells us about their collaboration with their Dutch partner in Terneuzen. They own all state-of-the-art equipment, which we all get to see. Of course we also get to see the famous fire-fighter slide-down pole which is still at its original position.
This excursion concludes the formal part of the day and we depart for the city of Gent. After a short stroll through the gorgeous ancient town centre of Gent we decide to take a boat tour. We manage to acquire the tickets quickly and after a short wait we receive pleasant company from a group of girls celebrating a bachelorette party. They aim their tequila guns at us and we quickly become friends. The tour guids shows us the beautiful spots of old Gent and we end up the tour where we started it from where we start hunting for a food and beer place. We quickly manage to localize a decent restaurant with an inner yard which proves a slight deception when it starts pouring quickly after our first Belgian beer. We move inside but nevertheless it’s a perfect closure of the day before heading back home.