Henry Ford strengthens electricity grid in Port of Antwerp

Grid company Fluvius has just inaugurated the brand new Henry Ford switching station: an important new node in the electricity supply of the Port of Antwerp. It also provides a permanent replacement for the old Wilmarsdonk switching station, which was hit by an explosion and fire last summer. The investment provides greater grid reliability in the port and is also a future-proof strengthening of the energy supply on site.

'Electric island' was weak link

Energy supply in the Port of Antwerp is constantly evolving. On the one hand, the port is continually expanding, so more electricity is needed step by step. At the same time, many companies are switching from fossil fuels to renewable electricity, which is also putting more pressure on the electricity grid. In addition, the amount of locally generated electricity, for example from wind turbines, solar panels and combined heat and power plants, has increased exponentially in recent years. To anticipate this, Fluvius is building through its investment plan continuously building the networks for tomorrow, including in the port.

In the summer of 2023, disaster struck. An explosion and fire at the old Wilmarsdonk substation caused a power outage in which some 60 companies could not immediately be supplied with electricity again. With all its might, Fluvius then built an emergency substation at night to restore energy supplies as quickly as possible.

Henry Ford brings reinforcements!

Over the past few months, Fluvius continued existing plans to replace the affected Wilmarsdonk switching station with the brand new Henry Ford switching station. It ended up on the same site, at the intersection of Wilmarsdonksteenweg and Henry Fordlaan. Such a switching station is a gigantic fuse box for a large part of the port, which Fluvius can monitor and control remotely via a central management system. The Henry Ford substation started up with 18 active supply lines and 6 reserve cells. Like just about every other switching station in the port, it operates at a voltage of 15 kilovolts.

In addition to the new substation, Fluvius also took care of the laying of new power lines that provide electricity to the connected customers. A total of 18 different medium-voltage bundles were laid in a trench 1.5 m wide. The new grid is constructed in such a way that Fluvius can intervene much faster and remotely, should a problem arise in the future.

With the commissioning of the new substation, the emergency substation can be removed for good. Thanks to the renewal, the on-site electricity grid has been significantly modernized and reinforced. Such grid reinforcement operations are also planned at various other locations in the port of Antwerp, for example at the Ekeren transformer substations and the 7the Havendok and for the new Blauwhoef transformer substation. ​

What is a switching station?

Fluvius' 860 switching stations are part of the backbone of the electricity grid in Flanders. In these stations, electricity is safely distributed (or "switched") to a series of underlying electricity networks, each at a medium voltage level of 10, 11, 12, 15 or 30 kilovolts (here and there in Flanders also 36 and 70 kilovolts). From there, they feed our entire electricity grid, right to you.

David Callens

David Callens

Regionale woordvoerder, Fluvius


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